One woman's story of strength and perseverance in Iraq

The sad truth of war is that it most often hurts civilians and innocent bystanders the most, shattering any semblance of stability and shelter characteristic of everyday life. This is the story of Sabeen*, a wife and mother of five, whose husband was taken prisoner during the Iraq-Iran war - leaving her to care for their five children alone.

The sudden absence of her husband and accompanying loss of security were the most difficult realities of war for Sabeen, and she immediately began to compensate for the loss. Working on an old sewing machine, Sabeen started making garments to sell as a modest source of income to provide for her family, and soon began applying her dairy production skills to prepare an assortment of dairy products as well.

Sabeen diligently cared for her family and business until her husband's return, but even then, her business was crucial to the support of the family, due to her husband's ill physical and psychological health.

In 2003, Sabeen applied for her first loan from the Access to Credit Services Initiative (ACSI) and was granted US$500 to be repaid over the next 10 months. She purchased a new sewing machine, some fabric, and a refrigerator for her dairy products, and over the ten months, she was able to repay the loan on time except for one delay caused by civil uprising. Because of this loan, Sabeen was able to expand her home-based business into a mini market, offering a variety of provisions in addition to her homemade dairy products.

After the success of her initial business expansion, Sabeen decided to apply for another ACSI loan and was granted US$1000 to be repaid over 12 months. With this loan, she helped her son to establish his own small shop from which to sell his mother's fresh products, and she also bought more fabric with which to increase her abaya (traditional gowns) sales.

Sabeen is just one example of a survivor who represents the strength, optimism and diligence of numerous Iraqi women that rise up against all obstacles and hardship to persevere. She constantly expresses gratitude to CHF as she considers it a true friend in her time of need.

* Name has been changed.