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An opportunity to be independent

a woman wearing a black veil holding a yellow lantern

Lara feeling happy with her son

Lara feeling happy with her son

My name is Lara and I am twenty-five years old. I got married when I was seventeen. I thought getting married was about a big beautiful white dress, a party with all my friends, and lots of gifts. What I didn’t know was that marriage meant having to give up all of my dreams and ambitions, but most importantly my childhood.

My first years of marriage were very difficult. My husband used to beat and insult me and I didn’t do anything about it. But after I gave birth to my second child I knew I had to do something to make it stop so I went to my family’s house and I got divorced.

The conflict in Yemen escalated in March 2015 – four years ago. Things were already difficult after the revolution in 2011, with the economy starting to decline. However, the situation took a dramatic turn and quickly deteriorated in 2015 as civil servants like my father stopped receiving salaries and the cost of living in Yemen became much higher. I felt like I was a huge burden on my family especially as I have two children and their father can’t provide for them.

Desperate for a source of income to support my family, I started seeking other options. It is very difficult to find employment in Yemen these days and I felt that it would be better to start my own project. I also wanted to do something that would not only provide me with a stable income but would also define me and be in line with my beliefs.

I thought of having my own business through having an online account on Facebook and WhatsApp where I buy clothes, accessories and perfume and market them on social media. But I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have enough money to start my own business.

Two women and a boy sitting on the floor
Lara with her son and a client

When I heard about the business grants offered by CARE and funded by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) I applied for a training opportunity within CARE’s women’s economic empowerment project as a first step in learning how to start my business. I was very fortunate to be accepted and to get a startup loan so with that and the skills gained from the training I received I was able to start my online clothing business.

I bought clothes and set up the online account. With my family and friends’ support I started getting some customers and many people encouraged me. Today I have my own apartment with my two children and I am so happy that I have had this opportunity to be independent.

There are many women whose situation is like mine and even worse. It is not easy to survive during this brutal war, and that’s why there should be more projects like this, to empower vulnerable people.

A woman and a young boy standing
Lara feeling happy with her son
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