Tastakel

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SALAM AL-GHADER

Salam is from the city of Deir Ezzor. She studied at the Faculty of Arts, in the Department of Arabic Literature. She was always interested in public affairs and followed social as well as political matters. Salam was one of the Syrians who was waiting for change, and when the revolution started, she participated from the first day, as she felt this was a real opportunity for Syrians to achieve a new direction. With a lot of enthusiasm, she carried out many tasks in civil society activism. She lived through the liberation period in Deir Ezzor. “This was the most beautiful station of my life ever,” she reminisces. Despite the heavy bombing and siege she felt it was a positive meaningful struggle, that is, until ISIS entered the city. But even then, she tried to continue the peaceful struggle, especially in the education track, and worked to plan and implement a successful advocacy campaign. But the price she paid was great, as she was forced to leave Deir Ezzor, fleeing in the summer of 2015, and arriving in Turkey.

Salam felt defeated and broken, having left behind her dreams of living the moment of victory and seeing her country emerge from the grip of dictatorship. It took her quite some time to adapt to new life in exile. Salam went on to work in Syrian civil society institutions in Turkey, in more than one area, including social support, and women’s issues. She was also able to continue her studies in a master’s program. “I had to face many difficulties, some of which were internal. But there were also some challenging external circumstances.” Unfortunately, until today, Salam has not succeeded to secure a job, except for short-term or long-term contract.

Salam’s enrollment in classes with Tastakel was a major turning point in her life as she explains, because it gave her a new opportunity to recover and revive the energy within after having experienced stagnation for a while. Training with Tastakel was a shift. She says the lectures were important because they enabled her to deal with loss and to think differently. This prompted her to start writing a collection of stories, capitalizing on her personal experiences and the incredible events she came to witness under bombardment. She recognized the power of voice and narrative and to tell the story of Syrians and what they were dreaming about.

During the training, Salam came to realize the importance of local governance and its role in mobilizing society, which motivated Salam to participate in the Deir Ezzor governorate council enthusiastically. Today Salam owes her success to Tastakel in reviving her passion for working in public affairs and giving her back her assertive attitude after having felt a sense of defeat for a long time. Her studies with (Tastakel) was one of the most important milestones in her life, she says.

Salam is still dreaming of returning to Syria. She is passionate about contributing in the future to see Syria a free country with social justice. Salam worked with several Syrian civil society organizations in areas of social support and participated, also, in a promotional campaign with a Syrian team on the concept of transitional justice. She also volunteered in more than one civil campaign advocating for various issues such as raising awareness against child marriage, child recruitment and awareness about violence and sectarianism.