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You Are the Key to Change!: Samira's story

Meet inspiring young women who transformed from survivors into empowered activists – thanks to you!

You are the key to change!: Samira's story
Women in Iraq face life-threatening violence. Your support brings them hope and healing. © Daniel Smith

Eight years ago, Samira* was a young college student in Iraq, excited for what the future had to offer.

But her life changed when a trusted family friend raped her. Instead of love and support from her parents, they rejected her and told her that she should be killed for the shame she brought on her family.

Like all too many rape survivors in Iraq, Samira faced an unthinkable choice: run away or be murdered to restore her family’s “honor.”

How You Helped Unlock a Door to Change

But thanks to you, Samira was not alone.

With your support, MADRE and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) help women and girls threatened with deadly violence find safety. We offer emergency transportation to our shelters, food, clothing, counseling and community.

Yanar Mohammed, leader of OWFI, counsels a woman at a MADRE-supported shelter in Iraq
Yanar Mohammed, leader of OWFI, counsels a woman at a MADRE-supported shelter in Iraq. © Daniel Smith

When Samira escaped to the OWFI shelter in Baghdad, she found safe haven and the support she needed to heal from her trauma. She received trainings about her human rights. Slowly but surely, she felt her power growing.

Your Impact: Turning Survivors into Activists

At OWFI, Samira gained the confidence to rebuild her life. Now an OWFI leader, she reaches out to young women whose devastating stories mirror her own. And she finds comfort in helping them to heal and transform.

Iraqi woman smiling
“It’s been a really long journey to get where I am today,” Samira told us. “But now, I am conquering the world. If you asked me today about the most important decision I’ve made, it was opening the door and escaping my house.” © Daniel Smith

Thanks to you, threatened women like Samira find escape, protection, and friends to lean on. What’s more, they reimagine their lives as empowered activists—together. Thank you!

*Samira’s name has been changed and she does not appear in photos here.