Inshirah Zawahreh, a new university graduate from Ouja in the Jericho and Jordan Valley district, says her experience with change has special importance, in a community she describes as conservative.
Motivating and encouraging
Inshirah was one of the women who participated in the AMAL project through which she trained with the Women’s Center for Legal and Social Counseling (WCLAC). The atmosphere was not new to her; she had volunteered with the center for five years before her internship.
“The training was extremely beneficial to me,” says Inshirah. “I benefited in more than one way. Administratively, I learned how to enter data into a computer, the logistics of setting up meetings, I learned about documenting Israeli violations and about cases of so-called “honor killing” of women.” She explains that she had always been interested in these subjects but having access to the center was like “having an open book in front of me. I could find out whatever I wanted and I could ask anyone about a subject and receive an answer.”
An opportunity to change
At the personal level, Inshirah says this was the perfect match since she studied social services at university. “Now I want to continue my education; I want to get a Masters’ degree that will help me find a job that is more institution-oriented as opposed to academic.” Inshirah says her training with the Women’s Center was what swayed her in that direction. “Working in such an organization did not only help me assert myself, but allowed me to open up much more.”
Inshirah continued that the AMAL project was unique in that it showed her how to better handle issues such as “honor killings” because she attended meetings on such cases.” I learned the mechanisms for receiving the news and then dealing with it and knew the institutions and networks that were more involved in this issue.”
Inshirah said the practical part of the training enabled her to better understand how to deal with these problems, how to document crimes and tackle the obstacles and taboos that face centers such as the Women’s Center when dealing with them. “There is a lot of responsibility and fear involved in these cases so you have to be savvy and have a very strong personality in dealing with them,” she said. In turn, she says her self-esteem skyrocketed, which was an added bonus. “Not only do I feel like I am involved in something important, I know if I were not up to the task I would not be here,” she says.
Impact on family and friends
Inshirah says her experience even had a positive effect on her family and friends. “They asked me a lot of questions about the training and I would tell them all about it. They were so interested they even said they wanted to participate in similar trainings,” she said.
Still, Inshirah says no one should limit themselves to one place. “I volunteered at the Women’s Center but at the same time I was volunteering in other places, such as MIFTAH. People must get involved in organizations whose work they find interesting and important.”
She goes on to say that her family is now more aware of her capabilities. “They know they have a daughter who makes her own decisions and has her own responsibilities. My father was very supportive of me. I think he realized how important this training was and how many doors it could open for my career.”
In the end, Inshirah says the most important lesson she took away from this whole experience is that she learned how to connect and communicate with society and the problems its faces. “I even had an impact on my colleagues at work and instilled in them the importance of volunteer work, which they are now fully convinced of.”