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My passion became my dream business

A woman in a black burka standing next to a pile of tires.

Jawhara standing at the gate of the house they rented after they left her father-in-law’s house

Jawhara standing at the gate of the house they rented after they left her father-in-law’s house

“Physical abuse and emotional abuse were constant,” says Jawhara Ahmed from Sana’a, a 30-year-old mother of four children. She has experienced things that most of us could never imagine. “My journey to hell and back started when I got married at the age of 14,” she says with a deep sigh from the bottom of her heart. “I lived in a violent marriage for years,” she says. “I was naïve.”

It all began when Jawhara’s mother convinced her to marry an aunt’s son. She believed that her aunt was kind-hearted and would give her a happy life, but her aunt’s desire to control everything became clear immediately after the marriage. Jawhara and her husband lived at her father’s-in-law house at the beginning of their married life. Her mother- and father-in-law were abusive. Carrying water cans, tending sheep and cleaning the yard were her duties.

“My mother-in-law took every opportunity to hurt me, demand more domestic work and belittle me,” says Jawhara. She used to tend sheep in the mountains to escape the treatment she received at home. “Sheep are attentive and understanding. They listen to me as I am telling them my stories and my worries. They love me more than the people around me.” A tear runs over her cheek.


A woman standing in a field surrounded by goats
Jawhara feeding her sheep and goats next to her house

Jawhara managed to convince her husband to leave the house and seek a better life. They rented a house where they live until now, but the eruption of war in 2015 added fuel to the fire and left them with no income, no food, nothing. Jawhara reached a stage of deep depression and considered suicide many times. She used to punish her children every time they talked to her or asked for food. Her husband tried to isolate her from people around her, always blaming her for the situation they found themselves in. Her life was a continuous hell, full of fear and horror. “It was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with,” she says.

When she was at her lowest, fortunately Jawhara heard about the Springboard programme and was told to join. She registered and began attending a training programme funded by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which provided her with skills in finance and entrepreneurship, as well as life skills. “These trainings allowed me to understand my bad behaviour towards my children, and to change my behaviour. Now my children love me and encourage me to attend sessions.”

With CARE’s support, Jawhara started taking care of sheep and goats to provide a source of income. “Tending sheep is a passion that I wanted to turn into my dream business,” she says. Jawhara received goats from CARE and recently sold a kid, giving her some income. Now she is able to support her family, and her children go to school every day.

A small boy feeding a goat
Jawhara’s son feeding one of their goats

“I hope I can expand my business and have more sheep,” she tells the CARE team. She also dreams of having her own house and helping her daughter complete her studies. She never wants her daughter to experience the life she had.


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