SYRIA – May 14 2018 Sandy Listening to Whispers of Hope “At last, it is time to change my hearing aid battery! Mom lost her voice trying to make me hear what she says.” Whispered Sandy to the SOS Family Strengthening (FS) coordinator, when receiving her monthly financial support. Graduating from secondary school required serious extra effort from Sandy, as the 19-year-old has severe hearing impairment that significantly affect her ability to speak. However, this did not stop her from being a brilliant student and having remarkable grades. Sandy could easily get into university to pursue her studies, but she decided to take a different path in her life. She has chosen to take vocational training classes in a certified institute to become a tailor and fashion designer. Her hearing problem was not the only reason behind her decision, but also her strong need to find a job quickly to help her mother with their living expenses. At age 15, Sandy’s father passed away during the Syrian war, and that made her and the family live in deep sadness for years. Despite the passage of several years, the death of Sandy’s father was still alive in her memory and heart. She was never able to forget the incident, hearing the sound of bombings takes her back systematically to the day she lost him. After her husband’s death, Sandy’s mother started working in a clothes store, with long working hours and a salary of only 70 USD, which was not enough to cover even the family’s basic needs. Three years ago, to help the family improve their living conditions; SOS Children’s Villages Syria started providing financial and psychological support to Sandy, her mother, and her 15-year-old brother. “I still remember the moment when my mother told me that SOS Children’s Villages is going to buy me a hearing aid device, I felt so happy and even happier when I discovered it was a very small and invincible one, that no one could see,” said Sandy proudly. In February 2018, Sandy started attending a one-year vocational training at Almaamoon institute. Although she still did not complete her training, Sandy is working at a tailor shop near her house to gain practical experience and become proficient in tailoring and fashion designing. The psychological support provided by SOS Children's Villages is no less important than financial support. It is very obvious that Sandy's psychological situation has improved considerably after the installation of her hearing aid device and her registration at the institute, she became more confident and relaxed After getting her certificate, Sandy, like many of the Family Strengthening participants, will receive consultancy and financial support from SOS Children’s Villages Syria to start her own small project and generate revenue. Her income will help her family become self-reliant and independent. Sandy aspires for the day when she will become a professional designer and earn money to cover all her family needs. She is confident her hard work, patience, and efforts will not be in vain. For years, she has seen in her mother her role model of an ideal woman who takes the responsibility of raising her children despite life challenges. Despite the challenges she is facing and her hearing and speaking problems, she is determined to reach her goals. Sandy is one of 415 people enrolled in the family strengthening programme that supports families and communities to build their capacities so that children are well cared for and families stay together.