At sixteen, Rim, a daughter to Eritrean parents, fled Sudan with her mother and five younger sisters and brothers. They crossed the Sinai desert by foot and arrived in Israel, where they were placed in a detention center. In the dention center, Rim taught herself Hebrew and translated for others. Today, Rim works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) and also volunteers with Brit Olam’s Hagar & Miriam Project, helping young asylum-seeking women during their pregnancies and first months of motherhood. Rim received the 2012 Voices of Courage Awards from the Women’s Refugee Comiission for her devoted volunteerism.
“The most rewarding thing I do is my volunteer work with Brit Olam’s “Hagar & Miriam” program. I help young Sudanese and Eritrean girls who are pregnant or new mothers, who have just arrived in Israel. They often come alone, with only the clothes on their backs and the baby in their arms. They are overwhelmed by a culture and a language that are so foreign to them, and they have nobody to turn to for help. On top of that, they don’t know much about pregnancy, or childbirth or how to be a mother. We teach them how to stay safe and prepare for life in Israel, which is totally different than their home country.
When I left Sudan, I had nobody to help me or give me advice. Everything I learned, I learned by myself. Now, I am able to help other girls recover from their painful journeys and restart their lives in Tel Aviv. They have gone through so much – sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about it – but they’re also amazingly strong and determined.
I’m excited about the future. I want to become a children’s doctor and be able to save lives and make an even bigger difference. That way, I can become a role model not only to my younger siblings, but also to all displaced young women. I also want to honor the love and support my mother and family have given me.”