Real Life Stories: Nimeh

A desire for freedom is what brought Nimeh to Canada from Jordan. In her words, “women in her country don’t have the freedom to love, marry or be a part of society.”

An Arabic language teacher with a master’s degree, Nimeh, 60, found life in her country difficult. Her status as an educated and employed women made finding a match for marriage challenging, and though several men asked her father for her hand, as an income earner, she was expected to provide for her family.

Tired of waiting, Nimeh left home when she was 35 to marry a man who lived in another country, without her father’s permission. After 10 years and four sons, the marriage ended in divorce and Nimeh left with her sons, but did not reconnect with her family.

Worried about returning home because of her family, Nimeh came to Canada to find a job, preferably in human rights. Staying at Homes First’s Willowdale Welcome Centre, a refugee specific-site, she is receiving support from staff as goes through the refugee claimant process and looks for work. Nimeh looks forward to exploring Toronto, making connections, and writing poems and other literary pieces. In October, she performed the below poem at the Homes First talent show.

On her second day in Canada, Nimeh went to the CN Tower where at the top she sang a famous Arabic song, “Give me Freedom, Give me Freedom, Give me Freedom.”

“I am ready to tell my story and give facts about what’s happening (to women in my country).”


Forbidden, Forbidden, Forbidden by Nimeh

We are forbidden from Love.
From inheritances.
From picturing lovely moments.

Forbidden, Forbidden, Forbidden

We are forbidden from spending our salaries.
We are the slaves.
Our payments go to fathers and brothers.

Forbidden, Forbidden, Forbidden

We haven’t the right to talk and write.
We haven’t the right to marry.
Nor we have the right to choose the husband.

And if the Arabic women falls in love,
It means that she is dishonest.
She brought shame for her family and relatives.
So they must kill her to remove shame.


Photo by Sydney James


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