Invisible lives: Hannan Abdullah Arab

“I’m a teacher but it’s difficult for me to find work here. At first I was working in an NGO but now as a volunteer [for an NGO] I’m providing training in how to read and write for over-15s who are illiterate. Of course it’s not enough to feed my family so most of the time we are taking credit from the shop. Our debt currently stands at 700,000 IRD ($590).

“Finding jobs here depends on whether you have friends or relatives to help you. I have 15 years’ experience in teaching but till now no employers have replied to me. I’ve applied to all the NGOs, giving them my CV, but I’ve seen that they’ll take another person who doesn’t have any experience or knowledge about the job. I was the only person to be graded ‘excellent’ in the test but another woman still got the job over me.

“We have some families here who have friends and relatives living in Erbil, working for NGOs and they talk to each other. The NGOs coming here are from Erbil and where there’s already a connection they’re more likely to employ that person. My wish would be that everyone would employ people using the same criteria and treat everyone in the same way.

“In the camp they have to change the employees every 7–12 months so that everyone has the same opportunity to work. But there are some employees who have been working non-stop for three years.

“Because I don’t have the opportunity to teach, most of the time I feel angry, aggressive and nervous, having pressure because I can’t do what I’m supposed to do.

“It’s difficult for us to go out and bring the papers and permission from the police. The women can’t go out alone. The police made that rule last year. It’s for safety. I want to go out shopping or to the market or to the hospital and I feel like I’m in prison. I have to get permission to go anywhere.

“The difference between living here and living in Syria is the difference between the sky and the earth. I can’t tell you in words how different things are.”

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