But since working at the Qetan Sewing Center, Fatima rediscovered something else she sorely missed, too: a sense of community and camaraderie.
"Cooperating, interacting and sharing has always been there at the Center. This is the essential environment for quality – of both work and in life," says Fatima. "The center has had a really positive impact on me in terms of being able to meet people. The environment is supportive and helps you move forward."
Fatima also says she’s found a professional outlet for drawing and design, two of the things she enjoys most in life.
"I was not really interested in sewing," she says. "But I’ve always been interested in the arts. So drawing and logo design are both major parts of how we design garments. I enjoy this very much."
The long-term goal of the Qetan Center is to spark a further expansion of the textile industry across the Kingdom, so that it may become an emerging industry, contributing to local production and diversification.
But for Fatima at least, there is no question that the program has already been a success.
"The community keeps becoming stronger," she says. "The women who attend the Center can finally be collaborators. They can be ambitious. I encourage and admire them."
Fatima, who now lives in Al Qatif, says her journey of self-discovery is not yet over. Every day, she continues to strive, and is always seeking to improve herself. But she says her efforts are now bolstered by new wisdom, which she’s gained since working at the Center.
“Open your mind to the possibilities. Take notice of the actions that you must take to achieve your goals. Keep an eye on your future. Always have fresh ambitions. Focus on yourself. Love your soul. And don't forget that life keeps on teaching you.”
The way that Fatima lives her life animates this idea, that you can achieve your goals in life, so long as you pay attention, learn its lessons and stay focused.