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“I believed the recipe of a good marriage would be respect, two-way communication and love”- I.O. to UNFPA - “Unfortunately, I was mistaken!”.  

Married at 23, I.O. experienced different kinds of abuse (verbally, psychologically, and emotionally) from her husband. “From his family, too” she continued - “I was beaten, in front of them, and I felt that they enjoyed watching”.  Soon she discovered that her husband was an addict to drugs and alcohol. After only a few months of marriage, I.O.  was brave enough to ask for a divorce, but she ended up being isolated, feeling herself miserable all the time.

Abdel Shafi Community Health Association (ACHA) (former The Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip) is a developmental NGO that seeks to contribute to health, educational, cultural and social conditions improvement of the community through comprehensive quality programs based on justice and equality. ACHA commits to deliver abused women and girls with social services in a friendly and safe environment.

 

“My friends encouraged me to seek services at ACHA. I looked at their Facebook page and reviewed the work that they do with women. I decided to visit them and this is something  I will never regret” - I.O.

ACHA assisted women in finding their passion by offering them vocational training, such as embroidery, handmade accessories, crochet, and others. “I.O.'s put all her energy and patience into learning embroidery. She received a small grant, and she opened her own small business, this is a great success for us” says Soha Musa, ACHA GBV case manager.

Several months later, I.O. was diagnosed with a small lump in her left breast. She had to go through chemotherapy and mastectomy to survive. ACHA medical team provided her with health services including hormonal therapy which is free of charge, vitamins and supplements. She participated in psychosocial support sessions and group therapy organized to cancer survivors. “Such sessions are beneficial when women share their pain, experiences, stories, and triumphs to overcome low self-esteem and negativity” says Hanan Diab, ACHA therapist.

“This experience didn’t kill me, it made me stronger. It made me aware of the importance of having a positive role in someone else's life” says I.O.  “I am now eager to empower and support people who are facing detrimental challenges, as the ones I went through”.

Today, I.O. volunteers at Jabilya safe space at ACHA by conducting accessories and embroidery training for other GBV survivors. She is an example for many women in the community, her contribution is vital for the organization and her will to live as big as ever before.