A Broken Table Leg or Injustice against the Disadvantaged: I am Here to Fix the World! 

Fall 2016, Turkey: Zizinia watched her two daughters play with each other, Lina the older one assuming the role of the mother as she always does. She was amazed with the game that the mysterious genes played with them. How on earth that Celine was in the image of Zizinia’s sister Nour and Lina mimicked motherhood duties on her? “The most beautiful and annoying beings, my pearls, my heroines…” she almost got teary all of a sudden. She felt Nour’s soul flying from Britain to Gaziantep, canard dancing with her own soul and she began laughing. What a picture! She wondered how fast and drastically her mood can fluctuate in the past few years.


Zizinia grew up pampered by both parents who repeated and appreciated the importance of education for boys and girls alike. Her three siblings were living in different countries today as independent and self-confident individuals thanks to their high-quality education both on formal and informal levels. Although their mother was a homemaker all her life until recently, she encouraged their daughters to lead a different life, without complaining about her lost opportunities. She is now involved in charity work. Destiny has its own ways and having constant regrets about the past only leads to unhappiness. It was thanks to her family that Zizinia learned how to be grateful and appreciate one’s prospects, which was part of the informal religious education she received.

She continued to observe her daughters’ interaction with each other and wondered if she could manage to offer them a similar education that her parents granted her. Celine was 8 and Lina was 10. […] The times and conditions changed radically now. They could not return to Syria after their life in Dubai disintegrated. Zizinia settled in Gaziantep at the end of 2013 with the girls after her asylum application and the following 9-month-long contemplation about it in the U.S.  Although the decision-making process and feelings of in-between-ness and longing for her daughters while traveling across the different states of America was painful, she is glad that they are closer to home now, to her parents, and to the father of her two daughters.  Only 60 miles north of Syria, Gaziantep became almost a bilingual city where several schools and NGOs for Syrians were established. This city, renowned by its pistachio cultivation and rich cuisine, changed its demography after the flux of Syrians.


She was a strong-willed curious child, and these traits followed her throughout her life. She could easily be called a tomboy as a teenager, who preferred to play basketball with boys to flirting them. Spectacled, chubby with braces, she didn’t think of herself as a magnet for the boys despite her shining blue eyes and fair complexion. She always wanted to fix things, do manual work, which was not typical of girls but she could not help it: “Maybe I was brought to this world to repair things, be it a table with a broken table leg or injustice against the underprivileged”. As a child, she identified with Tom Sawyer and Robin Hood, or similar characters who stand by the poor and needy. Her colleagues made comments about this, apparently she just couldn’t help it: “Stop pampering us”, they would say, “take care of yourself”. Maybe it has got something to do with paying forward, extending the privileges that she once enjoyed. “Definitely, it is also related to my interpretation of Islam,” she carried on her inner conversation. 

December 2018: Last month, Zizinia accepted a new job and moved to Istanbul with her two daughters.

Lifelines: Syrian Womanhoods in Transition | Ozlem Ezer | Berkeley CMES