On the fourth day of Refugee Week, we speak to Hoda Arab, who grew up in Aleppo, Syria. A promising fashion designer, her dreams were cut short in 2012 when the Syrian civil war made its way to her doorstep.
Arriving in Coventry in October 2015, the Syrian Integration Project; a partner project funded by Coventry City Council, in which Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre works with the Citizens Advice Bureau and Coventry Law Centre to welcome Syrians to the city, helping them with the first crucial steps in rebuilding their lives.
Since then, Hoda has began rekindling her dreams, whilst also helping other refugees to find sanctuary in Coventry. This is her story…
Hoda Arab grew up in Aleppo, Syria, where she worked for a clothes company as a secretary. She had big dreams and in the evening would work on her own designs which her boss allowed her to cut and sew the following day. She showed promise and was working hard to achieve her dreams when in 2012 they were shattered, as she was forced to flee Aleppo in fear of her life.
In October 2015 Hoda arrived in the UK, a place she is now very happy to call her home. She said:
“I have been welcomed here, accepted and I feel safe.”
The Syrian Integration Project has been critical in helping her to settle. They have supported her with securing access in English and IT classes and more recently she has begun working as a volunteer interpreter at CRMC with other Syrians, so that they can take the first steps in rebuilding their lives in Coventry.
Hoda becomes animated when she talks of the team that has helped her, and she has high praise for David London, the Employment Officer on the project. She said: “He has helped me so much and given me so much confidence. I cannot thank him enough.”
David said: “The credit should all go to Hoda. All we have ever done is try to encourage her.
“She has shown drive and determination since arriving, and I’m confident she can accomplish her dreams.”
She advises others to follow in her footsteps and to volunteer. Now Hoda is in the process of applying for jobs and hasn’t let her dreams die. She said:
“One day I want to own a small factory, making clothes here in the UK.”