Life after Al-Raqqah and Aleppo: Sana and Hoda’s story

Six years on from the start of the Syrian conflict, Sana and Hoda* share their stories of having to leave their besieged home cities of Al-Raqqah and Aleppo behind to move to Turkey, where they are continuing to work on promoting peace and women’s rights. They are both part of a Syrian youth empowerment project that International Alert is partnering on.

“My personality grew stronger and became more solid,” says Sana, reflecting on her work with several civil action organisations over the past few years.

Sana grew up in the now besieged Syrian city of Al-Raqqah, where she studied English and taught in a secondary school for 16 years.

ISIS captured the city and made it their headquarters in 2014. Soon afterwards Sana left for Turkey, where she continues to “seek justice, for all segments of society.”

Through my work I have gained many skills, including the ability to manage a dialogue, dealing with various groups and individuals, who have their own different views and opinions concerning big issues.

Gender and citizenship issues have been a main focus of Sana’s work.

“We conducted elections for women’s political representation at the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), in order to increase the percentage of participating women in the Syrian peace process. The goal was also to include women in negotiations and decision-making processes.”

Youth trainer Hoda has trodden a similar path to Sana. She comes from Aleppo – another Syrian city that has been decimated by the Civil War. Like Sana, Hoda is now based in Turkey where she too advocates for women’s rights.

It is important for women to receive a good education and completely understand the importance of their role, and to be more effective in the community. We must also support mothers from different backgrounds so they can also be productive professionally, allowing them to represent women on a bigger scale and in different sectors.

> How can we build a brighter future in Syria? Watch a video message from our Syria Projects Manager Caroline Brooks.

> Discover more about our work in Syria.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Photo: Aleppo, Syria, 2013. © IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (Creative Commons)