New beginnings.. on World Refugee Day

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Save the Children commemorates World Refugee Day on the 20th of June by sharing success story for one of the refugees who had a lot of challenges but were able to face them. Nermine* is #NotJustARefugee, through Save the Children’s interventions and activities, she was able to start a new beginning in Egypt.

Nermine* is a 26 year old African woman who arrived in Egypt 5 months ago with her husband and her 3½ year old daughter. Nermine was 5 months pregnant with her son, Faisal* at the time.

Before coming to Egypt she was supporting her family as her parents were elderly and she also had to take care of her four siblings.  She was working as an agricultural labourer and her husband worked in the electronic maintenance field. Nermine moved many times inside her own country, but when the political and social situation escalated she decided to leave.

“In my country, our financial situation was terrible.  I had to live with my in-laws. There were days when I didn’t have enough money to feed my daughter and I had to sell everything I had. It was an awful feeling to see my daughter hungry and being so disappointed that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her because I didn’t have money for food for myself.” 

 “When we arrived in Egypt I spent the whole first month in front of the UNHCR Office (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in the street. I was pregnant and I had many complications with my pregnancy. In early September I was granted financial assistance from UNHCR for one month. I rented an apartment for my family. I also met Seif*, who comes from my country and he told me about a Save the Children program and helped me get in touch with their Community Health Worker.”

“Faten*, the Community Health Worker, contacted me and I went with her to a Primary Health Care Unit. She helped to open a health record for me and for my daughter. She followed up with me and visited frequently to see how I was. Faten also kept giving me health tips that were very beneficial to both my daughter and me. The day came when I had to deliver, but no hospital wanted to admit me because my case was a very complicated delivery - I was about to give birth in the street. But when I called Faten to let her know I was about to give birth she came quickly and I was admitted into a hospital. Save the Children has saved my life and my son’s.” 

Save the Children collaborates with the Ministry of Health and Population at Provincial, District, and Health Facility levels on Family Planning program delivery and scaling up Family Planning services in emergency health responses. Key interventions include outreach support services for vulnerable women like Nermine, improving medical equipment and supplies used in health services, and training doctors on new approaches to family planning services. This project reaches vulnerable women through home visits and community leaders. Also, through the home visits, beneficiaries refer other members from their communities to Save the Children’s services.

Through her engagement with the health program, Save the Children also linked Nermine to a livelihoods improvement program, which aims to improve the economic circumstances of vulnerable youth and women. Nermine participated in an entrepreneurship program which provides intensive training and practical experience on the essential business skills required to establish a micro-business, and well as providing mentoring and other incubator support to establish successful micro-enterprises.

“I attended the program with Save the Children and it benefited me a lot. They developed my skills, now I am more professional and have a plan for the future. The experience was remarkable. I started my own business, in which I sell Sudanese products. I feel more empowered, which has affected my relationships with my children. I can secure a living for my children and myself. The project has affected and impacted my life on different levels personally, and affected my health and raised my awareness. I wish that my children are in good health and have a good education.”

Save the Children is implementing a Family Planning project in Cairo which targets vulnerable refugee and host community women, with support from a private foundation.  It aims to ensure that Family Planning-Post Natal care service delivery is fully integrated in humanitarian health responses.  Working with the Ministry of Health and Population Services, the project provides support for deliveries, and builds the skills of Community Health Workers from different nationalities to provide outreach services to vulnerable women.  The project also supports local health services through providing equipment and supplies, and building the skills of health service providers

Save the Children is also providing livelihood improvement programs for vulnerable refugee and host community women and youth in Greater Cairo.   An entrepreneurship program is offered and provides an intensive training program covering the essential business skills required to establish a micro-business, and well as mentoring and other support to establish micro-enterprises.

*Names marked with a star have been changed to protect identities.