9 Women Who Have Inspired Us In 2019

International Women’s Day, 2019

We often muse amongst ourselves that we get to meet some of the strongest, most resilient women on the planet. Some of them are refugees, some of them are IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and some of them are our staff, the heart and soul of our organization. So, in 2019 we chose 9 of the women who have inspired over the last year - and there were literally thousands to choose from!

We hope that they inspire you the way that they have inspired us! Happy International Women’s Day!

- Julia (Kurdistan, Iraq) & Candice (Uganda).

(Click on the images to enlarge)

1. Rachel, From South Sudan

In this world, you need to go with the challenges. And then shake them off. Because the children will also follow in your path. Sometimes now, when the children feel life is so difficult and they come with a lot of questions, I tell them that we need to be calm. I just sit and talk with them and pray with them. We pray to God that He will give us strength. And we will be the winners. 

From Tutapona, I learned motivation and planning. I gained courage. I now collect firewood and sell it and I collect grass for roofs and use that money to support the food [that we are given in the settlements].”

2. Gilya, From Shingal, middle east

“It was midnight. In the first thirty minutes, the weather changed, and the storm came. The motor of the boat stopped working and we didn’t know what was happening as I couldn’t speak [the smuggler’s] language, he was from Afghanistan. A big ship came and took us from the small boat to save our lives. Then the police arrested us. 

But I’m responsible for my family, for my children. I can [do it], I don’t care what [people] say. I will try to provide everything for my family, as much as I can. I come to the GROW program to listen to Tutapona and put everything they teach in my mind. I feel good and when I’m here [with Tutapona].”

3. Immaculate, From Rwanda

“I have started planting my own things. I grow tomatoes and cabbages, and every Thursday I take them to the market. I have got some goats and pigs and chickens.

I believe that the future is very good! Though problems may come, the may not put me down. My husband [who was imprisoned for beating me] and I are now living peacefully because we cooperate. If we have a problem, we work on it together. We should not admire so much of what we don’t have or regret of what has already passed. We all forgive each other, like there is nothing else that can keep us holding onto anger.”

4. Waja, in khanke, kurdistan

She showed us something precious that belonged to her. It was a hot pink post it note with Arabic text. Written on this piece of paper were her daughter’s goals- ‘Learn to speak English,’ ‘Travel to Paris,’ ‘Travel to America.’ Her daughter’s future continues to fuel her hope.

Her love and devotion to create a future for her children helps her to carry on - against all odds.

Despite not knowing the future for her and her family, she remains hopeful, fuelled by her love and devotion to provide the best future she can for her children. Because Waja lives outside the camp she is unable to rely on distributions, but, despite what little she had, she invited us in as a friend.

5. Areen, Field Facilitator, Kurdistan

With a willingness to go wherever the need is, Areen is motivated to care, to love, and encourage young women in Kurdistan. Her desire to know and understand her clients, paired with her empathetic heart and determination to serve even when it’s hard, are enough to show not only us at Tutapona, but her community as well what it means to be a strong woman.

"I don't give up easy. When I see people being affected by what I do with Tutapona, that makes me stronger and more motivated to help people. Here, in our tradition, the women don't have many rights so when I encourage the women here to go to school and do something out [of the home], it makes me feel very strong. It makes me not want to give up."

6. NADIA, From Somalia

You wouldn’t know from her smile that she had seen horrors beyond imagination. It’s the sort of smile that lights up a room. She tells us that program taught her and her family the importance of forgiveness, of not giving up, and of thinking of the future. Most of all, it showed them that God loves them.

Nadia is only 11, but she’s already a world changer.

7. Rosemary, Regional Coordinator, Uganda

“Being a female leader means that I can be an encouragement to fellow women staff and other refugee women. I want to build hope for those who think they cannot make it. I believe it has helped me to bring light, especially to refugee men to stop violence against women. I am helping to break down the cultural belief that women can not be leaders, especially not leading men - still, this is sometimes not culturally accepted. Being a female leader is helping me to show the value of women.”

8. Sera, In Esyan, northern iraq

“Before I came to Tutapona, if my children asked me for something and they’d cry, I would just sit with them and cry with them because there was nothing I could do for them. But this morning my children asked me to bring them eggs and there was no money to bring them eggs. So, I told them, don’t cry. If me and your father work and we get money, we will bring many eggs for you. So, they feel happy. I was feeling relaxed and happy […]

Like I learned in GROW, if there is a bad situation or I have bigger problems, life is going on. There are bad things and good things too. I have to hold on and be strong and have a courage in life. Life will change, nothing is going to stay in its place.Your bad situation might change, you just have to be courageous to stay strong.”

9. Chaundra, Head of Communications, Tutapona

“Not only am I honoured to work beside and help lead a team of amazing, creative and passionate women in Communications, together we have the privilege of providing a voice to so many others, whose stories of strength, courage and hope inspire us everyday.

Some of the strongest people I’ve encountered are women, they care and carry their families despite their circumstances. They fight and protect, they empathize, teach and nurture those around them. Being able to play a small part in the amazing healing that these refugee women have experienced, by letting the world know they have overcome, they have hope, and they will persevere through some of the most unimaginable experiences has helped me to realize that, as women, we are capable of so much more than we could ever imagine, and we are stronger, together.”