12,000 people live in the displacement camp that Saaid, Nada, and their children have called home for the past five years. Like thousands of others, they fled the death tide of ISIS when it came to destroy their community in the north of Baghdad.
Saaid worked as a teacher before they were displaced, and he volunteered to teach at the school when they came to camp, while Nada took care of their five kids. He didn’t have a job, but for him, having something meaningful to put himself to was crucial.
Jobs are so much more than just income. Income is critical to survival and building a better future. But the daily routine of going to work, in the myriad ways that people do all over the world, is one that provides purpose, meaning, and is critical to self-esteem. We spend a third of our lives at work, so besides its larger purpose of providing for our families, work inevitably gives us our perspective on life. It shapes our identities, our aspirations… our worlds.
The job market is depressed in Iraq, and in refugee and displacement camps, with thousands vying for the same few opportunities, jobs are scarcer still and often irregular, so there’s no stability in income. Saaid’s family had been surviving primarily on stipends given by other humanitarian organizations, and what little he could make getting odd jobs as a laborer.
So they are incredibly grateful and thrilled to have started this electrical store with your help. It’s a perfect one for Saaid and Nada for several reasons.
“Keeping the lights on” is critical, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do. Lights, air conditioning, and refrigerators are important to maintaining the function and stability of daily life, and all equipment needs repairing, maintenance, and adjustment.
A combination of talents
Before they were displaced from their hometown, Saaid took on side jobs doing electrical work on building sites, outside of school hours where he was an Arabic teacher. More than selling small items like plugs and extension cords and bulbs, he’s the one with the expertise to offer solutions to customers who ask for them, and the hands-on skills to do repairs and installations. In five months, Saaid and Nada have gone from selling smaller, everyday things, to stocking big-ticket items like satellite dishes, which Saaid also installs for customers when they request it.
Before ISIS, Nada ran a successful clothing business back in their town. Now, she’s the boss of the electrical shop and runs it while Saaid is out on jobs, managing its logistics, stock, and finances. She’s always enjoyed the challenge of retail and is an incredibly savvy business manager.
In five months, Saaid and Nada have cleared their family’s debt, started turning over a tidy profit, and are now planning to expand their shop and start yet another enterprise: a clothing store, just like the one Nada had in their old home.
A successful collaboration
Saaid and Nada make running a business while being married look easy, when having professional and personal lives so entwined is often a challenge, and occasionally, impossible. Against the background of displacement from war, loss of home, and the immense difficulty of remaking their family’s life from the devastation, what they are accomplishing is phenomenal.
All they needed was a modest investment to help them past the initial struggle. So you said yes.
When you donate to start small businesses like Saaid and Nada’s, you gave business owners a brand new start. The day we spoke to Nada, five months after they started this business, she told us just how much of a difference this shop has made to their lives. It is enabling them to do so much more than meet daily needs and keep their kids in school. It has made saving for their family’s future possible.
This shop has been the difference between the enormous uncertainty of their survival, and the powerful process of taking control of their destiny.
Having this business is helping them to heal from war.
You gave Saaid and Nada’s family the critical foundations they needed to reclaim their lives, and plant the seeds of a better life for their children.