Zhala, a Kurdish mother of three, came to London with her children in order to be reunited with her husband after 9 years apart. Soon after she arrived, he found a job in his home country. Leaving Zhala behind in the UK with the children, he moved back home promising Zhala she could return too at a later date. Vulnerable and alone in an unfamiliar city, Zhala rapidly lost her confidence and she became depressed and later suicidal. She lost the ability to look after her children and required the help of social services.
Zhala’s doctor referred her to MEWSo and our befriending program. We assigned her a Kurdish befriender to help her get back on her feet. From advising her on housing and schools to offering interpretation services, the befriender made sure Zhala had the support she needed to rebuild her life.
Gradually, Zhala felt her confidence return and with it, some of her former happiness. Through her befriender, she met new friends and after six months, she felt like a different person and was able to give up her medication. She also began to look for new activities to be involved in, keen to help others as she had been helped. She ran a beauty session for the other women which was a great success. Since then, she has become a volunteer for MEWSo and is involved with organising social events.
I was in a terrible stage of my life. I thought I had lost not just my mind but also my children. I thought that nobody could understand or help me. But I was wrong. I have my children and control of my life. I think that now when a problem arises I will know how to tackle it. I now have a network of friends and the good people from MEWSo. I asked for help before it was too late. - Zhala
When Suna was diagnosed with a terminal illness, she struggled with anxiety and suffered severe depression and panic attacks. Alone in London with no one to turn to for help, she confined herself to her house, rarely interacting with the outside world.
Luckily, Suna’s neighbour, on realising the situation, put her in touch with MEWSo and we offered Suna a befriender. In spite of having no idea what a befriender was, Suna accepted the offer of help, and after several meetings found herself able to open up and talk about her illness and worries. She began to attend MEWSo’s dance therapy sessions, and there she met some other women and made friends. After a few months she was feeling much happier. Suna still attends dance therapy and now helps out at our events, preparing her delicious Mediterranean food.
When the doctor told me about my illness I felt I collapsed. I thought nobody could understand me or what I was suffering and that I would never cope. But being with a befriender and visiting her every week was like a gift. My fear lessened and my life has gradually been filled with the friendships of women. I have started to believe in myself and know that I can manage and feel good about my life. Now I know I am not alone. - Suna