Islam and Public Health Workshops

Islam and Public Health Workshops

Last month, Global One, as part of our focus on Islam and public health and women empowerment, hosted three workshops in conjunction with our exciting new toolkit: ‘Empowering Women: A Toolkit for a Healthy Society’.  

The workshops included an interfaith session held at Finchley Reform Synagogue in partnership with Faiths Forum where female scholars of various faiths united to advocate the importance of preserving the mental and physical health of women and children from an interfaith perspective.[/fusion_text]

We can be everything we want to be!

Through the support of our attendees, we were able to create an inclusive environment focused on inspiration, self-determination and the use of spiritual power to drive powerful changes:

“We can be everything we want to be! Women are at the forefront of being able to effect small but powerful changes.”

Lessons of female empowerment from Abrahamic text helped to draw attention to the importance of spiritual power in drawing strength from oneself during times of difficulties.

The relevance of these sessions cannot be underestimated within the local and wider community. You can share our vision of female empowerment by forwarding the pdf version of the toolkit to friends and family.

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

GO Policy and Research Officer, Faeezah Hussain, travelled to Lebanon in May as part of our hygiene pack distribution for Syrian women in refugee camps. This World Refugee Day, she reflects upon her time in Bar Elias and meeting courageous women like Bara’a, a mother of three who still experiences trauma and anxiety when recalling the birth of her youngest child.

[/fusion_text]The word refugee is a dirty word. It strips her of her human – it takes away her name, her favourite colour, her homeland and leaves her with a number. That number is 65.6 million and counting. The word refugee denotes not just a second-class citizen, but a person who was born free but then constrained to a second-class citizen status before being left with no home and no rights.

I visited Bar Elias for the second time in a year last May, which shelters over 300,000 families living in the dry arid heat in the Bekaa Valley. Hundreds of small children run between tents and get tangled between grown-up’s legs, playing and shaking our hands. There are six of us from our team, including Tariq a filmmaker, visiting the camps as part of our distributing efforts of hygiene packs.

A year later

It’s my second visit after almost a year, and I am trying to remember where everything is.

The families here must see thousands of people passing through the camps all year round, bringing food, coming to look inside their tents and playing with their children. But a little girl runs up to me and pulls on my hand and asks me: “Do you remember me?”

Of course, I do. This very spot was the last place I saw her almost a year ago. It made me realise how in a year so much has changed for the rest of us. We have transformed and moved on but Huda was still here, just a little bit more nine years old and a little bit taller. And this would happen, again and again, walking through the same rows of tents and seeing the same faces, still here, still recognising me and still waiting for something different to happen.

Her name is Bara’a

During the distributions of the hygiene packs, I met a beautiful woman named Bara’a who lives in a small tent under the dry, arid heat with her three children and husband. We asked her if we could tell her story and she agreed. She welcomed us into her tent – the inside of which consisted of flat mattresses on the ground with a few scattered pillows. This is where they would all sleep, eat and host their guests. I noticed a small pretty silver tray on the floor with a little silver teapot and a small pot of za’tar, which is common to Arab hospitality. Despite being displaced, Bara’a still tried to make this basic tent into a home.

A mother’s struggle

Her two boys and little girl sat in a row behind her, silent, upright and bambi-eyed whilst they listened to their mum recount the horror of fleeing Syria whilst pregnant with her daughter and how she feared the hospital would be bombed whilst she was on the delivery table. Fighting back tears and hands shaking, Bara’a told us how God has given her children as a blessing, but she wished she wasn’t having a baby in these circumstances: “You want the child, but you don’t want the child.

Bara’a was too physically and mentally exhausted to breastfeed her daughter, and when she didn’t have anything to feed her baby daughter, she would mix either sugar or biscuits in water to replicate the sweetness of milk. Her children aged three, four and five all wet the bed from the trauma of rockets and bomb blasts, and the eldest still cannot speak properly. She told us how the life of a Syrian is a difficult one and thanked us for not forgetting about her.

It could be anyone of us at any time

When we asked her about Syria before the war, she said ‘it was heaven’. She lived in a big house with two big rooms and a garden where her children would play without a care in the world. No one ever asks to live in these situations. Definitely not Bara’a, who dreams of a better life and wants her children to go to school. World Refugee Day is every day. And we are all Bara’a.

On Refugee Day, I also can’t help but remember how the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy have now become dispossessed and displaced. That could also have been anyone of us at any time, and it still can. It just reminds me of just how volatile our idea of ‘peace’ and ‘security’ is.


Bara’a only dreams to send her children to school

Bara’a only dreams to send her children to school

“I felt fear, fear…You want the child, but you don’t want the child.”

No mother should fear the safety of their newborn when giving birth. But for Bara’a, a mother of three living in a camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, the trauma surrounding the birth of her youngest child, Rouba, four years ago will always remain with her. Her hands shake as she recalls the memory.

“Hospitals everywhere were destroyed. I was very afraid for my other two kids and didn’t want this baby because I was surrounded by conflict with no home to go to.”

Rouba feared the safety of her unborn child in Syria. The very thought of delivering a child in a hospital which could be destroyed at any time, severally traumatised her.

Support mothers like Bara’a this Ramadan

Unable to breastfeed her daughter due to mental exhaustion, Bara’a had to rely on donations to buy formula milk to feed Rouba. Unfortunately, once the donations ran out a week later, Bara’a had no choice but to feed her newborn a mixture of sugar and water. If this wasn’t hard enough, she had to take out loans to provide nappies for all of her children.

The scars of a Syrian refugee

Bara’a isn’t alone in experiencing trauma. Her six-year-old son, Abdurrahman, wets himself at night and is unable to speak due to the mental trauma he experienced in Syria. He was only two when the war started, but it’s left its mark on this innocent boy who was forced to escape with his family after an explosion destroyed their home in Homs.

My home in Syria was like my heaven”. Bara’a recalls the peaceful and carefree times before the war. Her children would happily play outside, and she had no worry in the world.

Since then, the family have moved from camp to camp, being forced to survive in seven different camps in Syria before migrating to Lebanon. Bara’a is consumed by constant fear. Fear of the safety and well-being of her children. Fear of the future that lies ahead. Even when her children drink water from the camp, she cannot stop herself from worrying about the possible illnesses they may contract.

“It’s not safe at all for my children here.”

The uncertainty of their future doesn’t stop Bara’a from dreaming.

“My only dream is to send my children to school…I am so worried about their future.”

Is there any hope?

The shortage of education facilities in Syrian refugee camps combined with the trauma the children experience has meant they are unable to read or write. When Bara’a attempted to send Abdurrahman to school outside of the camp, he was often mistreated and bullied. Stories of refugee children being pushed out of buses on their way to school, resulting in injuries and in some cases death are not unheard of and haunt Bara’a. She is too scared to send her children to school.

Over 2 million Syrian mothers living in refugee and IDP camps share a similar story to Bara’a. Scared, traumatised and living with mental anxieties, these women are crippled by the horrors which have ripped apart their lives and everything they have held dearly to.

Together with your support, we can restore hope to Syrian refugee mothers this Ramadan to provide them much-needed support to help ease their difficulties. Donate a Box for Life today to provide life-saving resources to both mothers and babies to give them a healthy start in life they deserve.

NEWS: Menstruation Should Not Be A Taboo

NEWS: Menstruation Should Not Be A Taboo

This Menstrual Hygiene Day (28 May) our Asia Programme Manager, Aleena Khan, shares her personal reflections of feeling guilt during her periods growing up and overcoming the taboos and cultural norms, which unfortunately often link menstruation to shame.
Global One is committed to smashing this shame, re-educating and empowering women and girls on their menstrual health rights.

Ramadan Reflections: Menstruation Should Not Be A Taboo

My relationship with periods has been complex; as is the case for many Muslim females across the world. We are often made to feel as though menstruation is something we should not only refrain from talking about openly, but something we should be ashamed of. This is often backed up using (abusing) faith and cultural norms. A time of year during which these attitudes are most apparent is in Ramadan. Women are exempt from fasting during their period but most go out of their way to keep up the pretence, either out of shame or because society expects them to.

However, growing up, I refused to sit at the dining table and eat Sehri with my family while on my period. I would tell Abu very matter-of-factly that I can’t pray Maghrib because I’m on my period when asked to join the family for congregational prayers. I would buy my pads from the pharmacy and tell the salesman the brown bag was unnecessary.

That being said, I will never forget the sinking feeling I got when I realised Maroof Chacha, our cook at home, had seen me drink water in Ramadan while he walked passed by the kitchen door. I will also never forget how I felt like I was going to die when a boy from my class told me I had ketchup at the back of my white shalwar kameez school uniform.

Read the rest of the article here

A 14 year old’s heart-wrenching tale from Beqaa Valley

A 14 year old’s heart-wrenching tale from Beqaa Valley

This Menstrual Hygiene Day we reflect on the courage and strength from the girls and women we met during our recent hygiene pack distribution to Lebanon’s largest Syrian refugee camp in Beqaa Valley.

When you stand in Bar Elias, Beqaa Valley , you can look across the mountains to Syria. Bekaa Valley is home to the largest population of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees currently living in camps in Lebanon.

Syrian refugees have fled war-torn Syria with a few of their belongings and the realization that their lives will never be the same. We were in Bar Elias and other refugee camps in early May to distribute the 700 female hygiene packs that you generously donated, taking crucial items directly to girls and women in need.

On our trip in Beqaa Valley, we met many incredible women. Their stories were heart-wrenching, but their strength and courage was inspiring. Each tent had a different story to tell.

The heart-wrenching story of Fatima

In the very first tent, we met 14 year old Fatima and her mother. The two of them traveled to Lebanon with their father two years ago. Fatima told us about how they all lived in a large apartment in Syria and were extremely close with their grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.

The day her family fled Syria is a day that young Fatima will never forget. She tells us how they went to visit her grandfather after school who had recently been released from hospital. After making sure he was okay, Fatima and her parents left the house to return home for dinner. They had only walked a few paces when a bomb fell on her beloved grandfather’s house, killing all of her extended family.

The family managed to escape Syria with very few belongings, and after to resettle in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

When we met Fatima and her mother and handed them the female hygiene pack, Fatima broke down in tears and revealed that they hadn’t had underwear since they left their home two years ago. The most basic of items, without which girls and women feel they have lost their dignity.

“I wish I had died in the attack that killed my family…” she said.

The absence of undergarments and feminine hygiene products has made Fatima’s life extremely difficult.

Please continue to support refugee women and girls like Fatima this #MHDay and provide them hope by sponsoring our hygiene packs. Find out more about our Hygiene Packs Project by clicking here.