The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families, by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. Each year, around $2.1 million in education grants are awarded to around 1,500 women. This year, SIA is honoured to award $10,000 to three passionate, hard-working, strong women, one of whom is Sara, now pursuing her dreams of becoming an educator.
Here is her story.
Video Courtesy of Soroptimist International of the America’s Live Your Dream Awards
Sara was born and raised in Iraq. Escaping the chaos of her life at home, Sara’s family arranged for her to marry a man she did not know in the United States, eleven years her senior. Her dreams of a better and safer life, were shattered as she found herself trapped in a mentally and physically abusive marriage. Sara explains: “I lived in this miserable marriage for ten years. I did not speak any English and had no friends or family I could ask for help.” Repeatedly told she was unworthy, not good enough, not smart enough, once her children started school, Sara took parenting classes and it was here that she was given resources and information about domestic violence. “I realised that if I wanted to leave, I needed a plan for economic independence, so I enrolled in my local community college.”
Within two years, Sara completed her associate’s degree in pre-elementary special education, graduating with honours. From there, she transferred to a four-year university, and it was then that the abuse began to escalate. “[One day] my husband drove me to the university to force me to drop my classes, threatening to kill me if I did not. But in the parking lot, I was able to get away from him and call the police. University staff was able to help me find a place for my children and myself in a first step shelter.”
Still fighting legal issues surrounding her divorce, adding to the already painful and challenging emotional and financial struggle, Sara is happy that herself and her children are surviving and taking the necessary steps to move forward. Sara says that the ‘Live Your Dream Award’ has made her feel like a new woman, and she continues to work on her bachelor’s degree in elementary special education, all set to graduate this year. She now has a dream to become a teacher, and to help educate and support women in similar situations to herself, eventually hoping to obtain a PhD, so that she can help improve her State’s public schools.
“Education is so important for mothers because they have a major influence on their children’s education. This award will help me continue my education and graduate, so that I can provide a good example for my children and give back to my community.”
To find out more about the Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards please visit http://www.liveyourdream.org/
To read stories from this years Live Your Dream Awards please visit https://www.soroptimist.org/awards/live-your-dream-awards-finalists.html