Stories of Change

a child plays at the StARS Naimo childcare center

Fatima Discovers her Greatest Potential

Becoming a mother at a young age, by choice or by force, is challenging on its own. For refugee women, this challenge can feel extra difficult because they have to face it in a country that is not their own. Young and single refugee mothers face significant challenges: they are often ostracized by their own communities and struggle to find support to provide and care for their children. Due to their young ages, income-generating opportunities are very limited.

Fatima became a mother when she was just 16 years old. She came to CWS’s partner in Cairo, St. Andrew’s Refugee Services–known as StARS–to ask for financial assistance so she could meet her and her child’s basic needs. In the end, she discovered much more. Fatima received psychological services and learned new skills to better care for and bond with her child. She started attending classes through the StARS Unaccompanied Youth Bridging Program for young mothers so that she could eventually generate her own income. Fatima found a safe, welcoming space in the StARS Naimo Center. She shared, “at first, I did not know how to breastfeed and care for my little boy. I used to get tired and cry a lot, but StARS provided me with skills and training on such topics, which I now pass on to other young mothers.”

While attending classes on a regular basis, Fatima leaves her 5-month-old baby boy in the loving hands of the StARS nursery staff. The nursery takes care of babies and children up to 5 years old. They engage them in different activities according to their age groups, while the children’s mothers attend classes, group activities and appointments without having to worry about their children. Fatima shared, “[StARS Naimo Center] saved my life and my child’s. The daycare staff took care of him while I was studying. They also taught me how to take care of him. My feeling of safety is great as I am assured that my child plays happily there.”

At Naimo, Fatima received psychological and material support, including food assistance and baby supplies for her child. She told us, “this support made me realize that I want to help other mothers too. Working at StARS now is helping me open up to different cultures and learn languages while growing in my experience. I also interview and support other young mothers through training. My experiences with them have made us all grow together in a safe environment that helps us integrate and adapt to our situations while working to improve them.”

Now, Fatima is excited and feels empowered to pursue her goals and dreams. She is passionate about computer studies and has been able to learn new skills through the youth bridging program. She said, “[With the right opportunity] I believe that every mother is a leader, so I am learning and dreaming of becoming a pediatrician so that I can help all the children in refugee communities.” At StARS, a helping hand is available to anyone who needs it and the team will always help participants like Fatima reach their greatest potential