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Updated: Sep 9, 2022

Migrant & Refugee Mom's Leading The Way

My name is Asma, a Syrian Refugee from Zaatari Camp, and a mother of four children. After the war in Syria, we refuged to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Of course we went through a very hard journey, and now we are refugees for almost 10 years. I want to sent a message to refugee women and mothers around the world, not only Syrians, to never give up in the face of challenges and bad circumstances because life will move on.Ten years have passed while we are living in tents and caravans in the refugees camp. Those ten years were spent out of our lifetime, therefore, I would like us to continue the journey and keep making change even if we were only women or refugees. My strong message to all women around the world is that we should be a part of this world and make a difference for women specifically and for the world in general. I want to tell you that I have a lot to share and I want everyone to know about it. I want to ask women to be strong and be able to sustain themselves and create a beautiful future for themselves. I would like to share with women that I am in the process of establishing an association to help all refugee girls and women around the world. I want to continue helping others wherever I go and I want to meet and talk to all the amazing women making a difference in their very own communities.

أنا أسما عمري ٢٩ سنة ام لأربعة أطفال تمارا ومايا ومحمد ومادلين أعيش في مخيم الزعتري في الاردن هربت من سوريا في عام ٢٠١٢ بسبب الحرب والدمار الذي حدث في وطني كنت اسكن في وطني في قرية جميلة اعيش في بيت زوجي بعد أن تزوجت في الخامس عشر من عمري انتقالي إلى المخيم كان نقطة تحول لي في حياتي بعد وصولي لمخيم الزعتري تلقيت تدريب نحن نحب القراءة مع الدكتورة رنا الدجاني تعلمت من خلال هذا التدريب كيف أكون حكواتية للاطفال وأصنع لهم مكان أمن في كرفاني استمريت لسنوات وبعدها عملت في روضة أطفال وحصلت على راتب شهري وكنت اكتب في مجلة الزعتري قصص للاطفال ومقالات توعية للاهالي والأطفال وبدأت اطور من نفسي تحسنت شخصيتي وأصبحت امرأة عاملة وأم وزوجة في نفس الوقت وعمري لم يتجاوز العشرين عاما صنعت نفسي وبنيت شخصيتي بعد أن كنت شخصية خجولة ومنعزلة أصبحت امرأة قوية صاحبة قرار ورأي وعربية للجيل القادم والآن أنا بعد مرور ١١ عاما على اللجوءفي المخيم في ظل كل التحديات والصعوبات التي تواجه المرأة في مجتمعنا أنا الأن الزوجة والأم والمعلمة والقائدة والمتطوعة وصاحبة مبادرة إقرأ وبطلة فيلم قصة الحي الي حصل على جائزة المرأة لعام ٢٠٢٢ هدفي يكمن في إنشاء جمعية نسوية تساعد النساء على اكمال تعليمهن وتلبية طموحاتهن وزرع حب الحياة في نفوسهن ومساعدة اللاجئات في كل أنحاء العالم

Now, I am 29 years old, a mother of four children, Tamara, Maya, Muhammad and Madeleine, I live in the Zaatari camp in Jordan. I fled Syria in 2012 because of the war and the destruction that occurred in my country. My move to the camp was a turning point for me in my life. After my arrival in Zaatari camp, I received training. We love reading with Dr. Rana Dajani. Through this training, I learned how to be a storyteller for children and create a safe place for them in a caravan. I continued for years and then worked in a kindergarten and got a monthly salary. In Zaatari magazine, there are stories for children and awareness articles for parents and children, and I started to develop myself. My personality improved and I became a working woman, mother and wife at the same time. I was only twenty years old. I created myself and built my character after I was a shy and isolated personality. 11 years have passed since asylum in the camp, in light of all the challenges and difficulties facing women in our society, I am now the wife, mother, teacher, leader, volunteer, owner of the Iqra initiative and the heroine of the film “The Neighborhood Storyteller” that won the Women’s Award For 2022. My goal is to establish a feminist association to help women complete their education, meet their aspirations, instill a love of life in them, and help refugee women all over the world.

I want you also to meet my partner of this important project, Patti Bartelstein, aka bella luca, Founder of The Project Room and creator of our BLOG-


Welcome, As-salamu alaikum, Bienvenido, Benvenuto, Witaj, Willkommen, Bienvenue, plus so many more for me to learn "Welcome" in all the languages around the world.

Asmaa and I are so excited to build with you this brilliant community of real "Superheros" of our times, one by one, we believe together we can move mountains and empower each other like you've never seen before. This project came to mind after I had the fortune of meeting Asmaa while I was working for HOMEStorytellers as the behind the scenes photographer for the upcoming film, The Neighborhood Storyteller.

I am a single MOM of four adult children and I am proud to say that after 29 years of passion and dedication, giving all I had, through thick and thin, I raised four children who are citizens of the world, community leaders, lovers of life, nature, curiosity, creativity, all things, people and places. I understand how fortunate I have been to not have had to leave home due to war and persecution. I am eternally grateful that I have had freedom and choices my whole life. I left home when the time was right, when I went off to college and when my children had their wings and were ready to fly on their own. I left out of the desire to see more, learn more, do more, give back more of what I have learned along the way to those who are in need. I am an artist, a visual storyteller, photo documentarian and educator. I have always been drawn to personal stories of triumph over tragedy and I find these stories to be the most important and inspirational life long lessons I can learn from. It is not just the stories that entrance me, it is the deep connections that I make along the way. Thanks to the gateway of the internet, I have been able to follow brilliant people and learn about their stories which has given me a life full of depth, character and wisdom that keeps me inspired and learning more day after day. I call this the power of connectivity and this has become my life practice, building bridges to enrich human in-depth interaction. I always wanted one day, when the time was right, to work in the refugee space and help support and share life altering monumental stories that should be heard more in our global community. This is how I came to work with HOMEStorytellers. One day I was listening to the founder of HOMEStorytellers tell his backstory on a podcast and I immediately ran to my computer to send a personal letter explaining my dedication and passion for storytelling and how I want to help support his work and mission of supporting refugees and the proven solutions that enable refugee self-reliance. Fast forward, this is how I ended up meeting Asmaa, by working with the HOME Storyteller's team on producing her story in her home at the Zaatari Refugee Camp. We both instantly felt a deep connection between us, regardless of our language barriers, we felt a real connection. Both of us found commonalities, as Mom's, we shared compassion, empathy and understanding for each other. We understood without needing to explain the desire to want our children to grow up with all things possible and be given the best foundation, no matter the odds against us. Fast forward, this is how the BLOG was founded. I have always believed, where there is a will, there is a way. And so, here we are today.

Asmaa and I want to hear from all of you incredible MOM's, the Superhero's of our times to share your stories of strength, leadership, resilience, wisdom and self-reliance. We believe together we can empower each other and build more bridges between us while making our mark on the world, making our global community one by one, a better, richer and deeply connected place for all of us to live in.

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Once upon a time, there was a lovely little girl named Cinderella. She was as beautiful as she was kind and treated everyone with compassion and respect, from the lords and ladies that lived in her village to the small mice that lived in her garden. Cinderella had a heart of gold and was beloved and befriended by all she met.

She lived in a charming home with her mother and father, and they were as happy as a family could be, until the unfortunate day her mother passed away.

Fearing Cinderella would grow up unhappy without a mother, her father soon remarried a widow from the village who had two daughters of her own. Her stepmother wasn’t as warm or gentle as Cinderella’s mother had been, and her stepsisters weren’t very kind, but Cinderella loved them like the family she hoped they’d become.

Sadly, shortly after the marriage began, Cinderella’s father also died, leaving her alone with her stepmother and stepsisters. It was then that her new family’s true nature revealed itself. They removed everything from the home that had belonged to Cinderella’s mother and father and filled the house with their own belongings. The stepsisters took Cinderella’s bedroom for themselves and made her sleep on a stack of hay in the cellar. The stepmother took Cinderella’s dresses away and gave her raggedy clothes to wear.

“If you want to continue living here, you’ll have to work for it,” the stepmother said.

From then on, Cinderella wasn’t treated like a sister or daughter, but like a maid. Her stepmother and stepsisters gave her grueling chores and frivolous tasks and made her wait on them hand and foot as they enjoyed their new home.

As time went on, Cinderella grew to be a beautiful young woman, igniting the jealousy of her two stepsisters. As punishment for her beauty, they added to her chores until she was constantly covered in dirt, and Cinderella forgot she was pretty at all.

Despite her misfortune, Cinderella remained a kind and compassionate person. She knew her heart of gold was something her stepmother and stepsisters could never take away, and that alone gave her joy on the gloomiest days. She may have spent her time working for her stepfamily, but the nights were hers to dream of a better life, and those dreams gave her hope that good things would come.

One day, royal invitations were sent throughout the kingdom inviting all the young women in the land to a special ball the king and queen were hosting at the palace. At the ball, the very handsome Prince Charming would dance with all the young women in attendance and choose his future bride.

It was the most exciting news the kingdom had heard in years, and Cinderella’s house was buzzing with anticipation. For weeks leading up to the ball, Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters spoke of nothing else. The stepsisters took turns fantasizing about what it would be like to dance with the prince and accept his marriage proposal. They purchased elegant fabrics and ordered Cinderella to make them dresses for the occasion.

While she listened to her stepsisters’ daydreams and sewed their dresses, Cinderella also dreamed of what it would be like to attend the ball. She had never been to the palace before and wanted nothing more than to attend the ball with the other young women of the kingdom.

MRS. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend closely to their neighbor’s business by dint of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain. She was a notable housewife; her work was always done and well done; she “ran” the Sewing Circle, helped run the Sunday-school, and was the strongest prop of the Church Aid Society and Foreign Missions Auxiliary. Yet with all this Mrs. Rachel found abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchen window, knitting “cotton warp” quilts—she had knitted sixteen of them, as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed voices—and keeping a sharp eye on the main road that crossed the hollow and wound up the steep red hill beyond. Since Avonlea occupied a little triangular peninsula jutting out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence with water on two sides of it, anybody who went out of it or into it had to pass over that hill road and so run the unseen gauntlet of Mrs. Rachel’s all-seeing eye.

She was sitting there one afternoon in early June. The sun was coming in at the window warm and bright; the orchard on the slope below the house was in a bridal flush of pinky-white bloom, hummed over by a myriad of bees. Thomas Lynde—a meek little man whom Avonlea people called “Rachel Lynde’s husband”—was sowing his late turnip seed on the hill field beyond the barn; and Matthew Cuthbert ought to have been sowing his on the big red brook field away over by Green Gables. Mrs. Rachel knew that he ought because she had heard him tell Peter Morrison the evening before in William J. Blair’s store over at Carmody that he meant to sow his turnip seed the next afternoon. Peter had asked him, of course, for Matthew Cuthbert had never been known to volunteer information about anything in his whole life.

And yet here was Matthew Cuthbert, at half-past three on the afternoon of a busy day, placidly driving over the hollow and up the hill; moreover, he wore a white collar and his best suit of clothes, which was plain proof that he was going out of Avonlea; and he had the buggy and the sorrel mare, which betokened that he was going a considerable distance. Now, where was Matthew Cuthbert going and why was he going there?

Had it been any other man in Avonlea, Mrs. Rachel, deftly putting this and that together, might have given a pretty good guess as to both questions. But Matthew so rarely went from home that it must be something pressing and unusual which was taking him; he was the shyest man alive and hated to have to go among strangers or to any place where he might have to talk. Matthew, dressed up with a white collar and driving in a buggy, was something that didn’t happen often. Mrs. Rachel, ponder as she might, could make nothing of it and her afternoon’s enjoyment was spoiled.

“I’ll just step over to Green Gables after tea and find out from Marilla where he’s gone and why,” the worthy woman finally concluded. “He doesn’t generally go to town this time of year and he never visits; if he’d run out of turnip seed he wouldn’t dress up and take the buggy to go for more; he wasn’t driving fast enough to be going for a doctor. Yet something must have happened since last night to start him off. I’m clean puzzled, that’s what, and I won’t know a minute’s peace of mind or conscience until I know what has taken Matthew Cuthbert out of Avonlea today.”

Accordingly after tea Mrs. Rachel set out; she had not far to go; the big, rambling, orchard-embowered house where the Cuthberts lived was a scant quarter of a mile up the road from Lynde’s Hollow. To be sure, the long lane made it a good deal further. Matthew Cuthbert’s father, as shy and silent as his son after him, had got as far away as he possibly could from his fellow men without actually retreating into the woods when he founded his homestead. Green Gables was built at the furthest edge of his cleared land and there it was to this day, barely visible from the main road along which all the other Avonlea houses were so sociably situated. Mrs. Rachel Lynde did not call living in such a place living at all.

“It’s just staying, that’s what,” she said as she stepped along the deep-rutted, grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes. “It’s no wonder Matthew and Marilla are both a little odd, living away back here by themselves. Trees aren’t much company, though dear knows if they were there’d be enough of them. I’d ruther look at people.


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