“Our dream is to become a center for all of the poor in the city”, said Bassem, one of the local leaders who has become integral in partnering with SowHope to support women in the Middle East. Bassem’s team took Mary Dailey Brown, President of SowHope, and several SowHope volunteers to meet with women who take refuge in a rehabilitation center run by Bassem’s team. All of these women have been abused and discarded by their families or those close to them – some sold or forced into prostitution, while others, like Abia (her name changed for security purposes), were exiled from their homes because they were no longer “useful”. Abia shared her story, describing how her brother physically and sexually abused her from a very young age. When she became pregnant, Abia’s family disowned her while defending her brother for fear of bringing shame on the entire family. Before she heard about the rehabilitation center that SowHope supports, Abia had nowhere to go. She felt worthless and destitute. Now, she has a sense of community, a sense of self-worth, and is working hard every day to overcome her lifelong trauma.
Another life-changing project created by Bassem’s organization is a conference and vocational training center, situated on a 100-acre farm. Many women are able to take advantage of free vocational training in skills such as sewing and hairdressing. They find safety in this remote location while gaining expertise that empowers them, making them less vulnerable to kidnappings and human trafficking.