Founder and Executive Director
Born in Iran, Halaleh was part of the 1979 revolution against the Shah, and later against the Islamic Republic, after thousands of young activists were arrested and executed. She was forced to leave her home-town of Baneh, on the Iran-Iraq border, after it was bombed and occupied by Islamic troops.
Halaleh spent three years hiding in the nearby mountains, as one of many armed freedom fighters hoping to liberate the occupied towns and villages and fighting for an independent Kurdistan.
But as time went on, the task became impossible so she moved to Iraq where she lived for 11 years.
In 1992 the first Gulf War broke out, between an American coalition and Iraq, and Halaleh was forced to flee again, this time to neighbouring Turkey. With the help of the United Nations she was given asylum and a year later moved to Sweden.
She lived there for 14 years, studied - gaining a degree in Pedagogy (the science of teaching) - and qualifying as a social worker. Fluent in Farsi, Kurdish, Swedish and English, she made a career for herself, and became politically active again, fighting for women’s rights. In 2005, she moved to London and five years later founded MEWSo.
Halaleh made the decision early on in her life to dedicate her time to helping displaced women - first in Sweden and now in London. Over the years she has lost many loved ones in armed conflict in the Middle East, routinely witnessed violence against women (falsely claimed as honouring the family), and suffered gender-based injustices on a daily basis.
She knows the difficulties displaced women face and the help they need to rebuild their lives. Every year MEWSo helps hundreds of women across London to adjust to life in the UK by giving much needed advice and support and helping them improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
Hear Halaleh's story in her own words.