Born and raised in Mosul, the Governorate of Ninewah north of Iraq, I graduated from the Mosul Institute of Fine Arts in 2011. Due to the war against the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” my family and I moved to Sulaimaniyah in 2016, just like the majority of Maslawis who had to flee their hometown.
My husband and I have a 12-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. We live in a rental house. Unlike men, women have more responsibilities. Many of us work during the day, manage the household, and look after the family at the same time. I was unemployed for many years after graduation but kept applying for jobs. Fortunately, on 1 March 2020, I received a call from the Pizza Plus Fast Food and Café. I was thrilled to know that they have accepted my application. I am currently working at the restaurant as a receptionist with a fixed monthly salary.
Prior to this, we had no fixed source of income, so my sister used to support us financially. But with this job, we can now afford the expenses of our household and the children’s school.
On the other hand, I am the only female staff at the restaurant, although it is not easy for a woman to take such a job in our society. However, I don’t intend to give up but rather to work on changing that perspective.
I have gone through many challenges in my life. For so long, I felt despair and disappointment from everything. I could have easily escaped from reality, but instead, I decided to cope with and face all the obstacles. I believed that this would make me stronger no matter how difficult the situation gets. And I must stay positive to be able to survive.
After all, life teaches us that we can’t achieve what we want easily without struggle. It is the difficult times that teach us great lessons about life. And for this I am grateful.
The above text is a testimonial of Sara Thanoon, an Iraqi displaced woman who was among eleven unemployed youth the Pizza Plus Fast Food and Café was able to hire after receiving a grant from the Job Creation in KRI grant scheme. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syria Crisis, ‘Madad Fund’, under the Headway Programme, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Governorate of Erbil and Rwanga Foundation.
Launched in late 2019, the Job Creation in KRI grant scheme supported 56 businesses to hire 685 people (for 6-8 months each) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The recruits include 100 Syrian refugees, 488 host community members and 97 internally displaced people, of whom 227 are females.