In the words of Zahraa Hussein Mohsin: “I know that I am strong and that I can succeed.”

Zahraa Hussein Mohsin is a young Iraqi woman who came to İzmir, Turkey, in 2015. Zahraa is benefiting from the services of the Women’s Solidarity Center, run by UN Women in partnership with the Refugee Support Center (MUDEM) under the project: the Social and Economic Stabilization of Refugee Women and Adolescent Girls, funded by the Government of Japan. Despite struggling with serious kidney disease, Zahraa is determined to learn new skills and be independent, which she says is exactly what the Center is helping her do.


A young Iraqi woman Zahraa Hussein Mohsin is holding a drawing with Eid greetings. Photo: From personal archive
A young Iraqi woman Zahraa Hussein Mohsin is holding a drawing with Eid greetings. Photo: From personal archive


 I am Zahraa. I am 22 years old. I am from Iraq. My father had difficult times in Iraq and sent us to Turkey. In 2015, I came to Turkey as a refugee. My father came here in 2016.

As a family we all suffer from kidney insufficiency. My sister passed away because of this condition. My brother has been receiving dialysis treatment for 13 years. In 2018, my mother donated her kidney to me, and I went through kidney transplant surgery.

Before the surgery, I spent most of my time at home. I would never go out. I didn’t have any friends. Before the transplant, I barely knew how life was.

After the kidney transplant, I enrolled in distance learning for secondary school in Turkey. I started to work as a volunteer in civil society organizations. I signed up for a Turkish course. I enrolled in a basic photography skills workshop and an apprenticeship course to train as a chef. My social life became more active and I made friends: Nur, Rama and Bedriye.

I heard about the Women’s Solidarity Center from a friend and I enrolled in a computer training course. We had a break because of the coronavirus pandemic but the course will start again in September. I participated in many personal development courses, learning about communication, gender, problem solving, time and stress management, financial literacy, and I found them really rewarding. I learned how to trust myself and express myself freely. The team at the Center, translators and the psychologist support me a lot.

I am used to being at home because of my condition. Staying at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic was such a normal period for me. On the occasion of World Refugee Day we all sang a famous Turkish song online, which is featured on UN Women Turkey’s social media channels. The Center also sent me some materials for painting. Together with my father and brother, we painted a picture and we painted vases. I am now going to attend the online trainings about work-life and even Pilates.

Thanks to the Women’s Solidarity Center in İzmir, I trust myself more now. The Center always reminds us how strong we are. Until today, nobody told me that ‘you are a strong woman’. Now I know that I am strong and that I can succeed. I want to finish school, study gastronomy at the university and become a chef.”