Sabah: Empowered seamstresses strikes work-life balance

Sabah is a Syrian woman refugee who has found her way to economic empowerment and financially supports her family through her sewing business.

Sabah sitting at her sewing machine.
Sabah is a Syrian refugee in Egypt who now runs a successful sewing business.

Meet Sabah, Syrian Refugee

In the bustling city of Alexandria, Egypt, there lived a Syrian woman named Sabah. At the age of 40, she was a devoted mother of 3 children, who yearned to provide for her family in every way possible. Eager to contribute to her household’s financial security, Sabah longed for the means to support her husband. However, years of financial struggles and a resulting diminished social standing left her feeling helpless and with a need for psychological and social support. Despite possessing the remarkable skills of sewing and embroidery, Sabah was unable to purchase a sewing machine due to her limited resources.

Acquiring skills increases opportunities

One fateful day, Sabah’s life took a turn for the better when she decided to challenge social norms and take opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge through training. Intrigued by the prospect of financial support and the opportunity to enhance her skills, she decided to join a local programme.

“The feeling of being able to fulfill my family’s needs is priceless.”

Sabah, Syrian refugee in Egypt

As Sabah delved into the training programme, she gained much-needed financial assistance and acquired invaluable knowledge and expertise. Embracing training that honed her sewing skills to new heights, she discovered the beauty and market demand for handmade knitted products.

Developing her project

Sabah increasingly accessed various resources that supported her journey. Grant opportunities, including one unconditional cash for COVID-19 and a seed grant attained after attending skill-enhancing training, allowed her to procure a sewing machine and produce exquisite, high-quality products. Sabah best utilised the knowledge she is equipped with to target the right customers and effectively promote her work. Through this newfound knowledge, her creations resonated with people, and soon, her customers expanded beyond her daughter’s friends and teachers. Her work even began to receive international recognition, opening doors for export opportunities.

Improvements to different aspects of live

Sabah’s professional life flourished, and so did the life of her children. Sabah’s children got engaged in training sessions that nurtured their personal growth and well-being. Sabah’s daughter, in particular, was inspired by the Give Us Childhood initiative, which encouraged her to enhance her drawing skills. Sabah realised the potential of her daughter’s talent and incorporated her artwork into her creations. This collaboration strengthened their bond and brought joy and fulfillment to both of their lives.

Sabah underwent a targeted training sequence that addressed her needs. She began with Gender and Sexual Reproductive Health training, enhancing her understanding of gender dynamics and parenting. This was followed by Enterprise Your Life sessions, where she gained practical business knowledge and developed a robust business plan. To ensure personal well-being, Sabah participated in Psychological and Social Support gatherings, boosting her confidence and equipping her to manage stress effectively.

Sabah and another woman sitting behind her sewing machine.
Sabah managing her sewing project.

Creating work-family life balance

Expressing a desire for financial and psychological support, Sabah achieved both through the project. Empowered, she successfully worked from home, balancing her passion with dedicated care for her children.

Armed with cash grants, she procured the necessary materials and equipment to elevate her work. She learned the intricacies of implementation and discovered the power of effective marketing channels. As her customer base expanded, Sabah’s financial stability grew, allowing her to provide her family with everything they desired. The feeling of being able to fulfill her family’s needs was priceless.

Plans for the future

Gazing towards the future, Sabah now aims to expand her work, continuously learning new techniques, and aiding other mothers in need of support. The training she received during the project made a significant difference, not just for her but also for her daughter. Her daughter’s drawings, printed on Sabah’s creations, added a unique touch and captivated customers even more.

The psychological support sessions provided a boost in Sabah’s self-confidence, empowering her to face any obstacle that came her way. “The feeling of being able to fulfill my family’s needs is priceless. I’ve learned not to quit my dream and to spread the knowledge and skills to other mothers who need the support,” said Sabah. With a heart full of gratitude and determination, Sabah embarked on her extraordinary journey of resilience and success, proving that dreams can be achieved with the right support and unwavering dedication.

About the project

Our Koica-funded project SANAD aims to empower Syrian and Egyptian children, youth and parents by engaging them in training packages to enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes on various topics related to gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and financial literacy.