The story of Fawza, artist and refugee from Somalia
Fawza came to Jordan when she was 16 years old. Somalia, her homeland, was not a safe place to live and grow up. Her mother decided to move with the family looking for safety, and a chance of better opportunities for Fawza and her siblings, and so they arrived to Jordan in 2011.
“She is my role model. She is a resilient woman, and she has been through a lot, and she never lost hope. She wanted us to become role models, and leaders, and change-makers, and we are still working on it.” Fawza soon started to attend JRS courses. “At that time I was not very confident in myself, I was a bit shy, but all the knowledge and skills, and the people that came across my way, helped me to become a confident, an open-minded and non-judgmental person,” she says. From being a student, she started then to volunteer as English teacher with JRS and as Diploma program coordinator with JWL (Jesuit Worldwide Learning).
She says that “this was a blessing for me, because I have always dreamed to continue with my education, and finding these opportunities was a dream coming true.” She completed an online diploma program through Regis University and majored in education concentration. She then participated in academic research work as co-researcher, interviewer and translator.
Fawza tells that, “JRS feels mostly like home to people. It gives them opportunities again. It makes them feel they are valuable, they are important, they are cared for. The outside world sometimes can be risky, and dangerous, but when you enter JRS place you feel a sense of calmness, because you see different people, a diverse group of students, and teachers. It makes us build bridges of acceptance, of empathy also, and destroy the walls. Because before people have walls, and they are scared of everything that is different, but when they came under the roof of JRS, they step outside their comfort zone and they get to know different people. This helps them make friends, and connect with other people and learn from them.”
Fawza started painting just as a hobby, when she was a kid. What started as a hobby then became an expression tool. “It helps me to organize my thoughts, communicate my message, and to connect with other people through art. So it’s more like a therapy to me. It helps me to relax, to release some stress and the outside pressure. It helps me sometimes to disconnect from the world,” she says.
Fawza later started to collaborate with JRS, focusing on the portrayal of refugee stories and inspirational messages of solidarity, resilience and hope through her drawings. In a colorful and blossoming painting, she told the story of a refugee from Iraq, Amal*, met at JRS. The painting represents the strength and resilience of Amal, despite all the difficulties she faced. The colorful flowers represent the light and love inside her, whose seeds and petals fly and spread around her, to her community and the people she cares for. The hand and watering can is JRS, that waters her with care, support, love, and helps her blossom.
With the wish to share with others the power of art that she experienced, she started to run art workshops for JRS, and other organizations in Amman, and she played an important role in setting up JRS Jordan Art Club group of talented artists from refugee communities.
Art is a tool to spread a message, and it is part of the commitment of Fawza to serve the community, call for a change, and contribute to make the world a better place with her passion, kindness and talents. Fawza is now doing an internship in the Communications and Advocacy department of JRS Jordan, helping in different tasks and especially facilitating JRS Committee discussions, a group made of representatives from refugee communities that joins JRS mission of advocating for refugees and the most vulnerable.
Fawza recently participated in the art exhibition “Bridging Words – Artistic Expressions of Migrant Experiences,” aimed at sharing the stories and paying tribute to the role of migrant domestic workers, their hopes, dreams, resilience and perseverance despite the hardship they go through.
Next to her beautiful art work are her words, “I believe that art is an effective tool for conveying messages and delivering the voice of the voiceless.’