Rebuilding my life after the earthquake

Dalia is one of thousands of Syrian business owners who had to start their lives from scratch following February’s earthquakes. But now, she’s standing on her own two feet again.

Dalia was just a teenager when she decided what career path she would follow.

“I had just passed the 12th-grade test, and couldn’t continue my education,” Dalia recalls. “But I made it clear to my family that sitting around in the house wasn’t for me. I wanted to work. So, I enrolled in a hairdressing training course.”

In 2005, Dalia started working in a beauty salon in Latakia. After eleven years of hard work and saving, she opened her very own beauty salon.

“I was the happiest woman! For seven years I was independent and didn’t need anyone’s help or money.

“But then came the earthquake. It took everything from me.”

Salon in ruins

Dalia’s salon was a place where women could gather ahead of happy occasions to get a new hair colour, a different cut, or a special up-do. But it turned into rubble in a matter of minutes in the early hours of a Monday morning.

On 6 February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Türkiye. The destructive extent of the shock hit a number of cities in Syria, including Latakia.

“A few minutes after the earthquake I ran to my shop and found the building in ruins. I wasn't able to restore my equipment safely, it was all destroyed,” says Dalia.

“For three months I was so lost and tired. We relied on the financial support provided by some acquaintances.”

Majd Aldroubi, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Livelihoods and Food Security Officer in Syria has been working to rebuild Latakia following the earthquake.

“Bustan al-Basha is a village located along the Mediterranean coastline in northern Syria and is a part of the Latakia Governorate,” says Majd. “It’s one of the areas most affected by the February’s earthquakes. Many families here lost loved ones and homes, and others, like Dalia, lost their income due to the earthquake.

“After assessing the needs in the area, NRC conducted a project to help breadwinners to restore their businesses. We provided several local business owners with grants to compensate for the losses they have endured due to the earthquake.”

Dalia speaking with Majd, a member of our livelihoods team in Syria. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC

Starting to rebuild

Dalia received a grant from NRC and purchased the essential equipment she needed to rebuild her salon from scratch.

“I placed the equipment in a room in my house and started my home-based beauty salon. When my neighbours found out I was back in business, my old customers, but also new ones, came seeking my services!” says Dalia with delight.

Like millions of Syrians, Dalia wants to recover from the impacts of the earthquakes and rebuild her life not needing to rely on anyone but herself.

“The losses I have endured due to the earthquake have pushed me several steps behind and erupted the progress I was achieving in my life. Still, I am very thankful to NRC for their support, and I am very happy that now I don’t have to ask anyone for money or support.

“Whenever I or a family member need anything we can open that drawer to take the money we need.”

Dalia is now back in business. Photo: Tareq Mnadili/NRC