Women Success Stories: Ibtihal Al Aghbari
Ibtihal Al Aghbari

When he was four years old, I discovered my son was not doing well. He seemed introverted, was wetting his bed, showed nervousness by nail biting and was aggressive. As I was not sure how to help him, I searched for someone who could help us. Unfortunately, it was not easy to find someone who knew how to improve my son’s wellbeing.

As I realized how little was out there to support me and my son, I started an online study in family guidance. It was quite a challenge for me to complete this study, as I was already a school principal and I had to complete the study with weak internet connection. The study taught me a lot of educational and psychological skills. As I graduated with distinction, I felt I was equipped with tools to help my son.

I am Ibtihal al-Aghbari, 49 years old, married with three children. Through my ambition to learn more about my son’s complication, I faced different challenges while striving towards my goal. One of the first challenges I faced was that the Yemeni society does not believe in psychological counselling. Whenever someone came to me for counselling, it would always have to be kept a secret towards the family. More often I would see the need for some counseling, but people would not want to come to me.

My ambition to be able to help people with pressure and problems they face in their life despite the social attitude towards it, was to hold counselling sessions in open cafes and public spaces. As married women, divorcees and female employees were mostly in need of counseling due to depressions because of the war, I focused on this target group. I had always wanted to open my own company in psychological support; however, I did not have the financial means to do it. Instead, I reached out to many public and private schools to see if they would be interested. In the end, I managed to get 30 contracts with schools and other institutions.

With these contracts, things seemed to finally get moving and my dream of having my own company got closer. At the stage where I reached 1500 cases, it was the time for me to start my own company. I started SCOOP, my own company for counseling. As I was already quite well-known for counseling across governorates, I was able to conduct online sessions. My portfolio soon expanded to 50 public and private schools, as well as a training module for civil society organizations in the field of psychological counseling. We also ran a project where we coached women to overcome their problems, improve their self-esteem and to open their own business. It was very well received in our community.

Despite the obstacles I faced from the environment, as well as my own financial situation, I never gave up my mission. I always strategically worked towards my goal with a dedicated plan. I am certain that this is the reason for me being successful in contracting the schools. By now, I reached 13.000 consultations and I trained 15.000 people in the same field. I also continuously received support from my family, husband, and children.

My message to all women in Yemen is: “a strong woman who enjoys inner peace, deep belief in herself and her abilities, can complete her journey and any obstacles she faces on the way”.

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