Women's Group Member Spotlight: Mubarika
As program assistant of The Women’s Group (TWG), I am responsible for participating in seminars and making notes of all things good and bad. At times this means paying close attention to women who are exhibiting severe signs of depression or abuse, and referring them to TYO’s Psychosocial Program Manager. It can be defeating at times to hear the difficult stories women share during debriefing seminars, art and drama therapy, but at the same time reaffirming that they feel at home enough to bring these stories to the fore amongst this sisterhood. TWG is a budding program, yet we are already noticing the success stories it is yielding. One particular story comes to mind about a woman named Mubarika, who is from the Old City of Nablus. A housewife and mother of two daughters, she has been a member of TWG since its inception. When I first started monitoring Mubarika she came off as having a humble character with a quiet and reserved demeanor. She showed a high spirit to learn and determination to establish new connections. Her story intrigued me, so I decided to dig deeper.
In an introductory seminar with The Women’s Studies Center, the speaker asked women to describe the best day of their lives. Of 23 women Mubarika was the only one to say that she does not classify any of her days as being the best in her life. Because many women associate happiness with family in Nablus, this was surprising to hear knowing that she is married with children. But what I did not know was the story of her family that surfaced in a later seminar. A few days later, while attending a seminar with YMCA-Nablus, was when Mubarika decided to share her story. She confessed that she is an illiterate woman, and was married at the tender age of 18. Since the start of her marriage she has been sharing a home with her in-laws, a common circumstance in the community. Living in such close quarters with her with husband's family caused several problems, and after some time Mubarika gave up her will. She lost trust in all those surrounding her and became frightened by the smallest squabbles, leaving her defenseless. She preferred the silence and withdrawal because she was not aware of how else to improve her situation. As she lost the courage to face people and her problems she began confining herself and her daughter to a single room in their house. During this two year period her weight increased to over 250 lbs., and she continued down this slippery slope until the Outreach Coordinator at TYO encouraged her to join classes offered for women. Since then, she says, things have improved ten-fold - her weight has decreased, she is finally finding self-confidence, she not only has the courage but has developed a desire to socialize with people, and she knows she is strong enough to stand-up for herself again. Mubarika is currently enrolled in Women's Group seminars and fitness classes at TYO, but hopes to sign-up for Arabic and English classes next session as well.
When Mubarika reflected on the positive turnaround of her situation with the women I could see the happiness in her eyes, and it reminded me that moments like these far outweigh those that are overwhelming. I have a responsibility to the women to help them harness the best in themselves, and it excites me to create greater change. This is the very purpose of the TWG, to increase knowledge and awareness of women, the guardians of the future.
Inas Badawi is the Program Assistant of The Women's Group at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in Nablus.