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From Syrian make-up artist to refugee mental health worker in Iraq

Noura's story


From Syrian make-up artist to refugee mental health worker in Iraq

A make-up artist learning new skills in Iraq

Becoming a refugee|Training|Supporting others

From Syrian make-up artist to refugee mental health worker

Noura is 26 years old and trained as a make-up artist in Damascus. Her life before the Syrian war began was comfortable and seemed secure. She enjoyed meeting with friends around the city and had ambitions for her career.

The growing violence in Syria made it harder and harder for Noura to go out of her home. 

She stopped going to work to stay close to her family but she always believed she would stay inside Syria. 

Leaving Damascus

However, eventually the fighting became so serious in her district of Damascus that her family decided they had to leave or their lives would be in danger.

Noura fled Damascus and became a refugee in the Domiz camp in Iraqi Kurdistan in the summer of 2012.

In the months since leaving Syria, Noura has seen up close the suffering and hardship of her fellow refugees. She quickly became aware of just how difficult the new situation was on families.

“There are many social and family problems, such as gender violence, couples breaking apart and young people traumatized after experiencing atrocities in Syria, including kidnapping.”

At first she felt helpless as she heard these stories of alienation and conflict from her neighbours and family members.

“I just wanted to help my people.”

Things began to change when she was invited by International Medical Corps to begin a course of training sessions in psychosocial work. As someone who has experienced many of the same things as those she supports, including loosing family members to the violence, the fear of leaving your home for the uncertainty of life in a strange country and the feelings of helplessness experienced as a refugee, Noura is well placed to offer help to her fellow Syrians.

The courage to overcome

Today her life as a make-up artist feels very far away as she moves around the Domiz camp as an International Medical Corps outreach psychosocial worker.

Noura said of her work, “I feel strong when I succeed in helping a person overcome their fears. In our culture, it is not easy to seek psychological support because of false social beliefs. Encouraging an individual to do so is a first step forward to success.” Noura sees more and more people who take the initiative and ask her for help. “Young people are so desperate that they now have the courage to overcome the stigma of mental health,” she adds.

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