A Palestinian mother confronts the stigma of divorce to create a better life

Nadera turned to SOS Children’s Villages Palestine for guidance and support. Through an SOS programme that helps about 600 vulnerable families in both the West Bank and Gaza, Nadera received psychosocial and emotional counseling as well as financial support to open a small clothing boutique in 2017.

“My dream was to have a clothing boutique and it was fulfilled by SOS Children’s Villages,” Nadera says. “It takes care of all our financial needs and especially my son’s medical needs.”

“Now I have created some independency in our own home in which my children feel warmth and independent in their life,” she adds.

SOS Palestine social worker Valentina Shalaldeh says Nadera is a role model for women in similar circumstances. She sought help to develop herself and now lives independently. “SOS helps women, children and families dealing with problems by building their skills and providing them with psychosocial trainings to one day be self-reliant and support their children,” Valentina explains.

Nadera became fully self-reliant at the end of 2019, no longer needing support from SOS Children’s Villages Palestine. In her apartment, photos and artwork by Bayan and Fadi, now ages 11 and 12, hang on the walls. Her boutique is in the same building where she lives so she is flexible to spend time with her kids and to manage the shop.  

“The biggest challenge has been to rebuild my life again – to say that I achieved something,” Nadera says. “SOS Children’s Villages gave me the motivation to move forward.”

Deciding to divorce and raise her two children alone was a hard decision for Nadera.

Divorce comes with stigma for women in her Palestinian community and can even be an impediment in finding work.

But Nadera’s former husband did not take responsibility for the children as a parent or breadwinner. For the sake of her children, she felt she needed to take control. However, without a job or formal education, she struggled.

“My life before I got support from SOS Children’s Villages Palestine was limited,” says Nadera, 36. “I didn’t know who to turn to for guidance, because I was divorced and this is a problem in our society.”

Her daughter, Bayan*, and son, Fadi*, were quite young when the couple divorced more than 10 years ago. Raising them by herself was particularly difficult since her son’s medical issues required long stays in the hospital.

What Nadera lacked in skills and education she made up with a fierce determination in build a life for herself and her children. She had the courage to face the insecurity and stereotypes of divorce for the chance of a better future.

“I’m a fighter when it comes to raising my children,” she says.