As a 29 year old Eritrean mother of two girls, M.H was forced to flee her country after she lost her husband who mysteriously disappeared. She left across the Sudanese border and stayed in Sudan for a while where she was faced with discrimination an harassment for living alone. Eventually, M.H moved to Egypt one year ago and seeked support in Etjah’s Sanad Damietta safe space. The mere fact that M.H was conscious that she needed support in Sana was also an indicator that she was looking forward towards having a positive change in her life, which she actively pursued.
In her first moments of participation in Sanad’s activities, M.H attended psycho-social support activities like Yoga sessions administered by Etijah’s team with the aim of providing the safe space community with an opportunity to not only relieve the psychological stress they have, but also to help them rid off their negative feelings through physically soothing exercises. M.H has also attended different awareness sessions conducted by professionals in their fields including in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and Mental Health. Despite COVID-19, and as a sign of her commitment to develop n cause positive change in her own and her community’s life, M.H attended awareness sessions about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which were conducted online to ensure the participants’ safety. In the FGM awareness sessions, the participants, including M.H, received scientific and medical information about the negative effects of FGM. Eijah’s coordinators also ensured space for participants to discuss their thoughts about the topics addressed. Hence, M.H was able to share her own experience with FGM and how it negatively affected her.
The discussions in the sessions allowed M.H to share how she previously was convinced with the importance of FGM similar to how many around her were. However, by the end of the sessions, she also asserted how, as a mother of two daughters, she will not allow her younger daughter to go through that experience regardless of how others around her might pressure her. Thus, M.H has firmly taken her first steps towards not only mental resilience but also towards ensuring the safety of her community members after being equipped with the knowledge and tools she needs to achieve that goal.