Jamila (46) is a single mom with a passion for communicating and coaching. She regularly volunteers and would like to do more helping in the future. She came to Filet Divers for guidance, to find out more about herself and her options in the professional world.

“To me, being a woman means being a mother and a sister. Being a woman is complex, but I have so much to give. I’m a single mom of five sons between 10 and 26 years old, which comes with a lot of responsibilities: taking care of the household, washing, cleaning and cooking. I do these things with pleasure, because I realise what a favour it is to be a mother and take care of my children. In the first place, I live for them.

As a result of all these tasks, my daily life is very busy. Everyone needs an outlet and mine is walking in nature. I try to walk an hour each day, to get an energy boost and reset. My favourite park is the Nachtegalenpark in Wilrijk. People forget how important it is to get away from your life and worries sometimes. Last year, I went to Bosnia for a week: it was my first vacation in seven years. Here, I realised that taking time for yourself or going on a trip is not and should not be a luxury. People need to be able to let loose, especially people in poverty who already deal with a lot of stress. It’s not possible for me to go on a vacation every year, so I try to replace this with regularly going on little day trips, for example to the zoo because I love animals.

I was born in Sint-Niklaas and lived there for 10 years before my family moved to Antwerp. I grew up in a big, warm family. My family was middle class: not poor, but not rich either. When I grew up, I studied ‘Clothing and sales’ but I quit midway because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was taught to just study and then get a job, to just do and don’t think about it too deeply. I never learned that you can actually use your talents to get a job. Only many years later, through guidance from my mentor and my volunteering work, I have discovered that I have a talent for communication and coaching people. While volunteering, I come into contact with parents, teachers and children. Doing this and helping them gives me fulfilment.

I came into contact with Filet Divers (ed. opportunities centre and social grocer) through Recht-Op, an organisation with which I do volunteering. I was looking for a job and felt stuck, so someone recommended that I could go to Filet Divers to find some guidance. I met my mentor Stephanie here, who leads Women & Work, which is a focus group for women within Filet Divers. She’s taught me so many things already. At WoW, I learned that there are a lot of other steps you can take to find out what is suited for you. An important thing I learned is that you should think more about your talents: what they are and how you can use them to apply for jobs.

My dream is to give troubled youth more guidance and tools. I feel like a lot of young people are forgotten. I actually see this firsthand as a resident of Antwerp. I am already enrolled as a volunteer in youth and disabled care, because I really want to tackle this issue. I think it’s a fitting purpose for me: I’m patient and I also have a lot of experiences as a mom that are useful. I love communicating with people, looking for solutions and giving advice. This is also how I want to be remembered: as someone who taught people valuable lessons, gave good advice and added something to their lives.”

Authors: Yassin Akouh, Fleur Iven, Mariam Shonia, Anđela Bučić and Aron Boiten