As we approach the joyous occasion of Norouz we find ourselves reflecting on the incredible journey we have embarked on together in the past year. At OMID, our commitment to empowering and uplifting disadvantaged young women remains unbreakable, thanks to the unwavering support of our community.

This Norouz, we want to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who has played a vital role in helping us strengthen the social, emotional, and economic opportunities of the young women we serve. Your compassion, dedication, and generosity have made a profound impact on their lives, giving hope and a chance for a brighter future.

This year, we also want to bring attention to a critical aspect of our mission – mental health. The challenges faced by the young women we work with go beyond the visible barriers that require our collective understanding and support. As we celebrate Norouz, a time of renewal and growth, let us come together to foster an environment that prioritizes mental health, well-being and prosperity.

Your support not only provides material resources but also contributes to the emotional strength and resilience of the young women in our programs. Together, we can create a community that nurtures both the mind and the spirit.

May this Norouz bring joy, prosperity, and a renewed sense of purpose to you and your loved ones. As we welcome the spring and the promise of new beginnings, let us continue working hand in hand to build a brighter and more compassionate future for all. Our purpose is to empower upcoming generations in handling trauma, gaining essential skills, and achieving employability for a more promising future.

In this edition, you will find:

● Our Norouz campaign which we would like you to support

● The journeys of Yasmin and Azadeh, which were enabled by OMID

● Our new partnership with Junior Achievement

● A glance and what we achieved last year

With heartfelt thanks,

Marjaneh Halati, President, OMID

In 2024 we aim to expand the 2023 education, trauma healing and empowerment programs which are described in this newsletter. For this we need to strengthen the capacity of both our North American and European co-workers as well as our on-the ground peer-to-peer facilitators in Iran and Afghanistan.

A new group of 25 new peer-to-peer facilitators will enroll in a 3-month trauma training program in which they will learn not only peer-to-peer teaching techniques but also how to recognize symptoms of trauma in our beneficiaries, and how trauma can result in attention deficit and poor knowledge retention. This is essential as most of the young women we support and provide services for, are survivors of complex trauma, with their ability to absorb new materials/ideas presented being invariably affected by their traumatic experiences, which is why the centrality of trauma is always incorporated in our programs and methods of service delivery.

All of our North American and European co-worker will be enrolling in online courses to remain up-to-date in the areas of their work and to learn state of the art teaching approaches.

Our budget for these training programs is $15,000 which we hope to raise in this campaign. Your continued support is integral to making this vision a reality and empowering all our team with the skills and knowledge needed to transform the future of disadvantaged women. We are confident that with your generosity we can reach this target and make a lasting difference. Your donation, no matter the amount, will contribute significantly to the success of our mission.

Yasmin, a young Afghan refugee lived in a world where societal norms often confined women to secondary roles, a young woman refugee dared to defy the limitations imposed by conservative conventions. Her roots came from a region where the status of women was often defined by tradition and antiquated expectations. Amidst the trials of displacement and uncertainty, she found solace and support through OMID, a beacon of hope for those seeking healing and growth. 

In the midst of her struggles, she forged deep connections with other resilient young women who, like her, were navigating the complex tapestry of displacement. Together, they formed a network of strength, sharing stories of resilience and dreams of a better future.

Through the transformative power of OMID, she discovered the tools to heal and continue to grow in her new environment. The foundation provided her with the means to rebuild her life, fostering a sense of community and empowerment that became a catalyst for her personal growth.

Now, Yasmin has risen above her circumstances. With the help of OMID’s lawyers, she successfully immigrated to Canada. She not only pursues education with determination but also imparts the healing practices of yoga as a yoga instructor. Yasmin now serves as an inspiration for her OMID sisters as she leads by example and is now a facilitator for other women to shed light amidst the darkness. Despite the societal norms attempting to suppress her, she found allies who recognized her worth and encouraged her pursuit of a brighter future. Her story is a testament to the enduring strength of the human spirit, the bonds formed through adversity, and the capacity for hope to flourish even in the most challenging of circumstances.

In the heart of Iran, a young girl named Azadeh faced the harsh realities of poverty and endured the difficult realities of depression. Life seemed like an endless struggle, but within her, an unyielding spirit refused to be extinguished.

Azadeh’s journey took a transformative turn when she discovered OMID. The Foundation became more than just an institution for her; it became the home she never knew she needed. Through OMID, Azadeh found more than just educational opportunities. She immersed herself in computer classes, art sessions, reading and writing courses, and language classes. OMID provided not only academic support but also became a sanctuary for her emotional well-being. The invaluable psychosocial support she received at OMID was more than just having mentors but lifelong friends who shared her journey and understood her struggles. 

As she thrived under the nurturing wings of OMID, Azadeh’s perspective shifted. She realized the power of even the smallest acts of service in creating a domino effect of change. With a newfound purpose, Azadeh aspired to “give back to the very foundation that had transformed her life.” As she believes in the ripple effect of change and was determined to be a light of hope for other women facing challenges similar to hers. She is now able to leave an everlasting impact on other young girls and women as she facilitates workshops of her own. Azadeh knew that her harrowing past was not a limitation but a source of strength, and she was driven by the belief that she could be an agent of change in the world.

Through OMID, Azadeh shared that OMID gave her peace she had never known, but once found was something she holds on to for the rest of her life with conviction–armed with education, support, and the spirit of service, she could indeed change the world, one step at a time.

Junior Achievement and OMID Collaboration

OMID is dedicated towards helping young women refugees and their families overcome the challenges of mental health and access resources for a better future. The process of resettlement extends beyond mere physical relocation and beginning anew; it encompasses navigating the intricate terrain of cultural assimilation and comprehending the multifaceted challenges of addressing past wounds and traumas from one’s homeland. It also entails acquiring new skills, tools, and perspectives.

We aim to create a positive learning experience for young women refugees and their parents in North America and Europe, by providing essential trauma-informed life skills that foster awareness and a sense of belonging. Our approach focuses on creating a supportive environment where youth feel secure and validated, allowing them to build resilience and personal development. We emphasize the importance of enhancing the skills and resources needed for young women refugees to navigate challenges. Through collaboration with the Junior Achievement team, we bring together expertise in trauma-informed practices, financial literacy, and leadership education. This comprehensive approach recognizes the connection between emotional well-being and practical empowerment, ensuring that young women refugees not only overcome past traumas but also gain the knowledge and confidence for a promising future.

Educate Girls Now is a program dedicated to liberating the women of Afghanistan through education and self-determination. We are ecstatic to be providing Educate Girls Now with the OMID Voices Program. This unique, therapeutic, and developmental program is specifically designed for adolescent girls, young women, and their supporters–with the primary goal of fostering self-discovery and empowerment. Structured modules create a safe environment for participants to embrace their authentic selves and navigate challenges related to gender, trauma, and personal growth. This transformative journey is particularly crucial for women and girls in conservative and patriarchal cultures, where open reflection and discussion about personal challenges are limited. Recognizing this gap, OMID has tailored cultural adaptations to address unique challenges in the Middle East, fostering a safe space for exploring identity and challenging gender-based limitations. Through Voices, OMID aims to instill resilience and self-awareness, empowering women and girls to embrace their individuality within cultural constraints.

The Voices program is intricately designed to foster personal development and healing, drawing upon a robust framework rooted in psychological development, attachment, resilience, addiction, and trauma theories. This multifaceted approach guides individuals through a therapeutic journey, comprehensively understanding and supporting them as they navigate various stages of personal growth. Attachment theory plays a pivotal role in forming meaningful connections within the therapeutic environment, fostering trust and security essential for healing. Voices stands as a testament to the integration of cutting-edge theories and compassionate strategies, aiming to empower young women to overcome challenges, foster resilience, and embark on a journey towards holistic healing and personal growth.

In retrospect of 2023, OMID Foundation achieved significant milestones across its core centers, marking a year of impactful endeavors in education, trauma management, and empowerment.

📚 Education Center:
The Education Center witnessed transformative growth, reaching and uplifting numerous young women. Through tailored programs and enhanced resources, we expanded educational opportunities for our beneficiaries. The implementation of innovative teaching methodologies and curriculum adjustments allowed us to better address the diverse needs of the marginalized young women we serve. By fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment, we have seen a tangible increase in educational engagement and empowerment.

Some of the workshops in the Education Center included:

● English: In our English courses, we aim to enhance participants’ English language skills–whether they’re a beginner or looking to advance their proficiency, our program offers a supportive environment to help them achieve their language goals.
● Computer Science (ICDL): In our ICDL program, we aid young women in learning computing skills and digital literacy needed in today’s digital world.
● Drawing: Participants in our drawing program get the chance to explore a variety of artistic techniques and mediums while experiencing the healing power of art and expression.
● Hair Braiding: In this course, participants will delve into a comprehensive exploration of various styles, techniques, and tools associated with different hair textures while mastering 50 unique hair braiding styles inspired by African, Russian, and Dutch traditions.

🧕🏽Trauma-Management Center:
In 2023, our Trauma-Management Center played a crucial role in providing comprehensive support to individuals affected by trauma. We enhanced our therapeutic interventions, ensuring that survivors received personalized care that aligned with their unique experiences. The center facilitated healing through evidence-based practices and therapeutic techniques, contributing to the emotional well-being of those on their journey towards recovery.

Some of these workshops in our Trauma-Management Center include:

● The Decider: This workshop summarizes thirty-two Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) informed skills under the four-core skill sets of distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
● TARGET: A strengths-based approach to education and therapy for survivors of physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional trauma.
● TIMBo: From the very first session, TIMBo gives participants simple tools to connect with their bodies and calm their nervous system. Tools everyone can use anywhere, anytime to help them navigate life with greater ease.
● The Zones: This program helps parents and professionals improve the social competencies of individuals with and without diagnoses, including neurotypical children.

🧕🏽Empowerment Center:
The aim of the Empowerment Center programs is to enable participants to have a better understanding of their situation, their rights, and options available to them, so that they are enabled to make informed choices.

The workshops in the Empowerment Center included:

● Reproductive Rights and Health: Issues covered in the workshops included reproductive rights, laws, abstinence, body image, contraception, gender, human development, human reproduction, pregnancy, and prevention. The beneficiaries not only increased their through these workshops but also learned how to access reproductive health resources as needed.
● Civil Society and Civic Participation: Issues covered in the workshops included human/individual/gender rights, civil society, community involvement, gender-based violence/discrimination, democratic political processes, and organizational capacity. The workshops not only cultivated a sense pf agency among the beneficiaries but also contributed to fostering positive change within their communities.