Reem, from Arbin, Syria, talks to us about joining the awareness-raising campaign entitled, “Speak, We’re With You,” organized by the Syriac St. Ephrem Patriarchal Development Committee:
I joined up after reading an ad about the campaign. I went to the center and attended a number of lectures, and I also enrolled in a skills class, choosing a course on crochet, where I learned how to work with yarn.
My motivation to learn was to be able to help myself in the future. Sometimes I have no income, so I might be able to benefit financially from this work, or benefit from it for myself at home. I also wanted to know my rights and duties, and knowing these rights means that I know what I have and what I owe.
On the program’s equal treatment of people with different backgrounds:
There was no discrimination whatsoever in the campaign. Everyone was treated excellently. We even attended a lecture in the church in Arbin. It was an awareness-raising campaign to combat violence against women, and everyone was equal there, meaning there was no preferential treatment for anyone.
Reem explains more about what she learned:
Part of it was how to assess a person. I learned this in the life skills classes, and I also learned how to deal with my husband and children at home. Sometimes I have the wrong idea about them. For example: how to deal with the people inside the household, and how to deal with people from outside the household. I learned not to form bad impressions about other people without reason. Maybe they deal badly with others but I don’t need to respond in kind. I also learned I don’t need to take the same approach or attitude as everyone else.
In the lectures combating violence against women, I learned my rights. I learned also the forms of violence against women. Meaning a woman might be subjected to psychological abuse, and other things that I didn’t know were actually my rights. I now know how to legally assert my right against violence, even within the context of the family.
On the way the program shifted her way of thinking:
I learned how to defend myself, for example, if I’m walking on the street at night alone, I learned how I can defend myself, what’s the appropriate way to defend myself in that case. I learned how to respond if someone attacks me. And if someone harasses me physically, I can also defend myself. From the lectures I also learned that the authorities consider it acting in self-defense even if I hurt the person attacking me. I’d only be defending myself. I also learned that I shouldn’t accept harassment on social media either, and that the government defends us in this and considers it an electronic assault.
On her general opinion of the trainers from St. Ephrem who provided her with support and lessons:
The trainers were excellent, and we benefited so much from them. I thank them very much.