Stories of Change

Tasnim presenting at recent conference for Community Based Organizations in Cairo

Tasnim Finds Beauty Everywhere

Since she was a young girl living in Yemen, Tasnim was fascinated by beauty and always sought to surround herself with it. Eventually, this appreciation for beauty led her to pursue a degree in interior design. She was a dedicated student and loyal friend. If she wasn’t intensely focused on her school work, she was likely spending time with her friends and family. “I was just like everyone else. I dreamt of getting a degree and making my family proud,” she told us.

Unfortunately, the beautiful life she had created was shattered when the war in Yemen began in 2016. Her family lived in one of the most affected areas and soon basic needs like food, water and medicine became scarce. The situation became unbearable so Tasnim and her family decided to abandon everything and leave their country. “It was difficult to leave my loved ones, my friends and my university,” Tasnim said.

The family first fled to Saudi Arabia where Tasnim’s father was working. “After everything we had been through, I was so relieved to see my father. The journey was difficult, and the circumstances of our reunion were heartbreaking,” Tasnim recalled. While in Saudi Arabia, all Tasnim could think about was her dream of becoming an interior designer. “It was my passion, and I was not gonna give up on it,” she stated. With the help of her parents, she was able to transfer her credits from Yemen to a university in Lebanon. Excited but nervous, she left her home once again.

Being away from her family was difficult, but Tasnim shared that she learned to be independent and become the strong woman she is today. She continued her studies and during her free time she volunteered at local NGOs to support Syrian refugees. She shared, “I related to the people in these camps because I too fled my country.”

Finally, in 2018 Tasnim achieved her dream and received a degree in interior design. Unable to wait any longer to reunite with her family, Tasnim moved to Egypt where her family was residing. “I couldn’t control my excitement to see my family after so long,” she recounted.

Finding employment was difficult for Tasnim and she spent many months just making a living off of freelancing. Thankfully, after some time she landed a volunteer opportunity at Balqees, an influential female-led Community Based Organization, which serves refugee women and children. The organization recognized Tasnim’s commitment, skills and passion and shortly after, hired her as a full-time employee. Today, Tasnim is a project manager and leads an entire team of brilliant and dedicated women. “I am proud of my team. They are confident competent women who devoted themselves to making the world better. I couldn’t ask for a better team,” Tasnim said proudly.

In addition to her work as a project manager, Tasnim is a member of the Executive Committee of the United Refugee Network*, a coalition of twenty community-based organizations which advocate for the advancement of refugee rights. She is also a leader and focal point of the Gender and Sensitivity Subcommittee which promotes gender equality within the refugee community. “The trust my community has placed in me is humbling. I do my best to represent my community and deliver for the most vulnerable,” Tasnim said.

Tasnim is now a trailblazer and changemaker in her community in Egypt and is actively changing the lives of refugee women. Her skill lies in her ability to find beauty and strength in everyone she empowers. Tasnim recognizes that to make the world the beautiful place she imagines, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. She, however, stated, “We will never give up! It is a goal worth fighting for.” As Tasnim has proved, once she sets her mind on a goal, she will achieve it.

*CWS partner in Egypt, St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (also known as StARS), has been a key player in the establishment of the United Refugee Network over the past eight years. You can learn more about the life-changing work StARS does by clicking here.