The village grows out of the very dirt we walk on. Most of the community is traditional—houses, fences, outbuildings and roads all made of the local earth. It feels ancient here, reinforced by the fact that since ISIS’ occupation of the area, electricity and water are hard to come by.
We meet Sohaila*. She is a traditional woman and a well-known figure in this place. Both a mother and midwife, Sohalia cares for her own family and ushers new lives into the village with each birth. Sohalia’s doctors introduce us to her.
We are partners, you, me, and Sohaila’s doctors—young women hired by an organization to provide maternal health in remote front-line positions.
These doctors want to care for their patients as whole people and not only their reproductive needs, so we empower them to do that. We fill in that gap.
Some of their patients can be helped with medicine. Some, traumatized by war, can be helped with a listening ear. And some patients, like Sohalia, can be best helped with work that can support her family.
When Sohalia returned to her village ten months ago, she didn’t have 25¢ to her name. She returned to a community liberated from ISIS, but without resources to rebuild their lives.
Her doctors listened to her story, listened to her needs, and responded by honoring her—caring for her as a whole person. You could say that Sohalia’s doctors prescribed her a small business, and we are the pharmacist providing the prescription.
Together, we honor Sohaila’s overall health by providing a business opportunity and sustainable work.
We gave her the means to keep her hands busy and her mind distracted—from the stress of remembering everything her community lost to ISIS and the ongoing daily frustrations of living without essential government services like electricity and clean water.
We honored Sohalia’s integrity, skills, and creativity by believing that she could run a successful business.
Sohaila started small in a room in her home, making just a few house-dresses at first. In short order, she negotiated with the nearest fabric store two hours away so she can bring fresh fabrics to her shop on consignment every few weeks—colorful fabric for the young girls, and darker fabrics that older women prefer.
We honoured Sohalia’s success by encouraging her to expand her business with her profits. Her business has only been open for three months and she has already expanded it to include a cosmetics shop in another room in her home. Her daughter now does the sewing, while Sohalia manages the business end and runs the cosmetics shop.
We honored Sohaila’s living situation by providing a traditional treadle sewing machine, run by her own power. With a treadle sewing machine, Sohaila and her daughter can work whenever they have a little time, not only during the few precious hours a day the local military shares electricity from their generator.
Sohaila and her daughter have worked hard and found success in these first months of business. Sohaila can now take care of her family’s expenses—clothes to wear, produce to eat, and water to drink.
With some prescriptions it can take time to see if the medicine will work as hoped. In this case, Sohaila’s prescription–opportunity–was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Thank you for your partnership to empower woman like Sohaila.
*In Sohaila’s culture, modest women don’t allow their faces to be photographed. Sohaila is a modest women, so we honored her by not photographing her face.