"I turned my hobby into a profession and a source of income"
Mrs. Khaldiyah Abdul-Khaleq Hamam, a 60-year-old , from Syria
My life was dominated by monotony and routine; I never worked before. Unfortunately, due to the displacement situation, the hardships of life and the pursuit of a sustainable livelihood, I had no contact with my relatives, nor did I have any friends.
After we left our country, every day felt the same, and time often passed so slowly and I felt so distressed and anxious, wondering what has become of us after all these years.
Therefore, I indulged in my hobbies as a skillful housewife; cooking all kinds of food, and what made me the happiest was making pickles and desserts. Cooking food has become my greatest pleasure, because I felt like I was doing what I loved within my family. Yet that didn’t feel enough.
A few months ago, I got to know more about the activities and sessions for older people through some of my elderly acquaintances and neighbours who visited the NAYA community network. At first, I felt uncomfortable with the idea, as I was a bit nervous about the idea of interacting with strangers. But after our first meeting in “Bait Al-Taqdir” (Home of Appreciation) – a project implemented by the NAYA Community Network and funded by HelpAge International in Jordan – I realized that people are “enemies to what they don’t know”. My fear quickly dissipated once I got to know them more closely and became acquainted with them. The best thing that happened to me during this time was being among these people; people with the same mentality and passion, close in age and even living the same harsh life conditions as me. Today, we communicate as if we were family, and communicating with them has become an essential part of my daily life.
During the sessions, I acquired many skills. I am now able to speak confidently in front of an audience, I even participated in group leaderships, although to be honest, it is my first time to participate in a group for older people, and the first time I hear that there is an organization specialized in the support of older people.
Through networking and socialization between individuals and institutions, I was able to join other entities, one of which funded me for a production kitchen project to make and sell pickles. And so, my hobby turned into a profession and a source of income, and because of the success I achieved through this project, today I have a brand name that is associated with high quality and perfection among the majority of women and shops. Today, I am seeking to apply for a grant to expand and develop my project.
I hope that these organizations and institutes continue to support and care for older people, as they have an active and positive role in providing a new space for us to de-stress, both psychologically and emotionally, and to improve our skills and capacities, especially during these stressful times for everyone due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the tough times that we are going through as refugees far from our motherland, Syria.