The Lotus Flower operates a women’s center that provides a safe and welcoming space for women while offering various activities and training programs. One of the aims of the center was to provide indirect psycho-social support for women who had experienced violence and/or sexual trauma at the hands of ISIS foot soldiers. Coming together to attend these classes has enabled the women to reconnect and create a network of support and friendship.
Some of the class offerings have included yoga, music lessons, professional beauty / make up, and first aid training. The center also offers regular awareness sessions to discuss important topics that affect the community’s daily life, such as health, social, and legal issues.
40 women have attended 2 first aid classes taught in conjunction with the Rwanga community hospital and learned skills they can apply in their daily lives. The women all received first aid kits at the end of the course, which contain basic first aid supplies so that the skills learned in the course can be put into practice when necessary.
Music lessons have been taught in one course so far, to 10 girls over the course of 2 months. The attendees went from no experience with the instruments to sufficiently skillful to put on a recital, much to the surprise and delight of the other women who attended, and they plan to continue to play at future celebrations at the women’s center.
Gulistan Sabri Alyas, 25, participated in the beauty course and enhanced her skills in hair dressing and makeup, even helping to teach others during the course. She now runs a small salon out of her home and earns an income from these skills every month.
Nora Mato, 30, is an ISIS survivor, many of whose family members were killed, and she now lives alone with her sick mother. Her first aid training has given her more confidence that she will be able to help her mother if she faints or has urgent medical needs. “I’m alone with my mother and I knew that I need to learn the first aid skills so as to be able to help my mother, she is the only one left for me and I want to take care of her very well.”
Khokhe Shivan Haji is 25, married, and has 2 children. She also attended the first aid course and was particularly interested in the talk on breast cancer. “I went home and practiced what the teacher told me [and] I noticed that there [was] a small swilling on one of my breasts that existed before. I never cared about it….[but] now I became worried,” she told us. She went to the doctor the next day and was given a prescription to take immediately. She’s now recovering well and visits the doctor on a regular basis.