Forever Young

Farah Issa

“Forever Young” may look to many as just another upscale salon that has opened in Abdoun over the past few years.  But this salon is much more than that and the story of how it came to be is a story of effort, fight and persistence which has come to empower many women economically, socially and legally.

Hanadi Zaidan, the founder of Forever Young is a divorced, 39 year-old, mother of two. Her story started back when she was still married to the father of her children. Having a husband who stayed home and provided no help at all, she was the bread winner, with the responsibility for her entire family lying firmly on her shoulders. She was working as a hair dresser in one of the local salons of Amman, and used to stay for long hours so that all of her family needs are fulfilled. With an increase in the living costs in Jordan, and with her two children’s growing needs Hanadi saw that the best solution would be for her to look for work abroad. If she found a job abroad she could earn more and be able to give her kids the care and support they needed financially even if it meant that she has to be far from them. For her, working aborad and having the kids live with her husband made sense, he could watch them and she could send money home to make sure that everyone was taken care of.  However, things didn’t turn out to be as planned. Soon after her arrival in UAE and after she had begun to feel comfortable with the new family arrangement, she heard devastating news: an eviction order had been issued for her family.  Apparently, all of the money she had been sending home that she had worked so hard for, her husband had just spent it on himself.    To make the situation even worse, both of her children began to suffer from bad medical conditions because of the lack of care and attention from their father which lead to malnutrition and psychological issues. For Hanadi, this was the last straw. She packed her things and came back to Jordan to look after her kids. For her, there was only one solution for everything that had happened and the danger that her family had been put in. She had to divorce her husband even if it meant giving up all of her rights.

Now, Hanadi had to face a different challenge; the family pressure regarding her new marital status. These pressures caused Hanadi to revert to food as a stress relief mechanism. As a result she became overweight and began to experience many negative health challenges, making it even more difficult to take care of her family as a single mother.  She did not know how she would be able to earn enough money to pay for her children’s treatment or even normal living expenses. This reality and low point was a trigger for her and gave her a push towards improving both her financial and medical situation, she knew that if she didn’t make change in her life immediately her family would be in danger again.  She went on a strict diet, and was able to lose the weight she had put on during this tough time as she was rebuilding her confidence she secured a job at one of the prestigious international salons in Amman. The salon hired her because they saw her as a very talented, driven and hardworking woman.

“They took advantage of my talent and made me work for long hours with no breaks, but still I accepted the challenge as I needed the income and at the time that was the only suitable option for me”- Hanadi said. She carried on with this work for many years until she saw an opportunity that could make her dream come true. Now she has enough money, her children’s education and health were back to normal, and an amazing opportunity came her way. After seeing her hardwork pay off, she was confident that she could do it again and Hanadi took the chance to open her own salon: Forever Young. After experiencing so many problems Hanadi knew that she must open this salon properly. She came to ARDD-Legal Aid for support and information in how to correctly file for her own business.  After being approved, she was finally ready to open her Salon.

“ARDD-Legal Aid supported me and helped me to open my own salon. They assisted me in finding all the documents needed and directed me into the right direction. If ARDD-Legal Aid existed back at the time of my divorce, I would have been able to know my rights instead of giving everything up, I am also sure that they would have been able to provide me with the psychosocial support needed at the beginning of my divorce. Women in our world need organizations like ARDD-Legal Aid to assist and guide them towards different means of empowerment, and I, through my salon, try to provide some assistance to my clients who come to me for advice given the things I have gone through”.

It is stories like this that show the importance of justice on all levels. Hanadi’s social, legal and economic empowerment allowed her to become incredibly successful and she is now able to share this knowledge and her advice to the women that come into her salon.

 This is the story of Forever Young and its owner; Hanadi.

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