I lived in Syria for just over 20 years before the war, running a language school for around 10 years. The night the war broke out, my life changed forever. Originally from Cambridge, I moved to Syria with my children and we had an amazing life. The school I ran brought me so much joy! However, once the war began, my family and I had no choice, we had to leave our home and the life we had worked so hard to build. My children and I returned to Cambridge with nothing but a small suitcase each. When we arrived in Cambridge we were homeless with nowhere to stay. After staying in temporary accommodation, we finally moved into our home. We didn’t have anything and had to start from scratch. That’s when I started shopping at Emmaus Cambridge. The companions and staff were amazing, always helping me find items for my home. I would come shopping at Emmaus Cambridge most weekends and just fell in love with the place! Everyone was always so kind and generous to me. I was so grateful, I knew I wanted to give back to Emmaus as I felt they had given me so much, that’s when I began volunteering in the community.

I have been volunteering for around 3 years. I struggle to put into words how much I enjoy volunteering in the community. Emmaus is just different, the community is filled with kindness, and everyone is so welcoming! I know what it feels like to lose everything, everyone deserves a chance to be happy! I volunteer in the community 2-3 times a week working on the mezzanine, sorting through textiles and having a laugh with everyone who works up there. At the beginning, I remember feeling really unsure about going into the community house to have lunch as I felt like I was intruding. But the companions insisted I come over and I very quickly felt part of the community.

During lockdown I was unable to volunteer in the community. Even my children noticed a huge difference in my mood whilst I wasn’t at Emmaus, I began to feel very down. Volunteering brings me so much purpose and joy, I love being able to give back. The week Emmaus reopened my two sons were cheering, they knew how much I’d missed it! I have Fibromyalgia, which makes my muscle very painful and it’s often difficult to move. Knowing I’m going to Emmaus gives me a reason to get up and push through the pain. Since leaving Syria I have struggled with Agoraphobia, I will often drive somewhere and struggle to get out of my car. But I’m always able to come to Emmaus, I feel safe and secure here. Even with the struggles and traumas I have faced, Emmaus always keeps me grounded, I always get home and I’m so happy for the day I’ve had.

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