The sister of a Calgary woman murdered by an ex-boyfriend is honouring her late sister’s memory by helping survivors of domestic violence get their lives back from their abusers.
Starting as a jewelry drive collecting donations for domestic abuse survivors in Calgary, Gems for Gems has been putting on clinics and info sessions once a month.
Gems for Gems connects victims with psychologists, self-defence instructors, financial managers and motivational speakers through its Hero to Hero program to help “empower women to empower themselves,” Racha said.
“It’s targeting at the root of domestic abuse, which is breaking the cycle … to give them the opportunities, financially and emotionally, to not go back to their abusers and to be able to sustain themselves,” Racha said.
Racha said she felt an instant connection with Gems for Gems founder Jordan Guildford, who has started a scholarship program for domestic abuse victims, the first of which will be awarded in Nadia’s name.
“This is almost like Nadia, in a weird way, is around us and having all of this happen,” Racha said.
“Everything is just falling into place, and I know she’d be absolutely so happy and so proud of myself and my family for not only being able to deal with the loss, but to be able to make a positive change.”
Guildford started a GoFundMe page to collect donations for the scholarship program, raising more than $3,000 so far.
Another $8,500 has also been raised through events and donations and Racha said Gems for Gems is still working on a selection process to choose a winner for the scholarship.
Nadia was killed by her ex-boyfriend, 21-year-old Abderrahmane (Adam) Bettahar, on the night of March 25.
The two were not romantically involved at the time of the murder but police said they had spent the night at a downtown shisha bar.
But police say Bettahar became violent when Nadia rejected his advances, refusing to return El-Dib to her vehicle before taking her behind a home in the 1000 block of Maitland Drive N.E.
That’s where Bettahar stabbed the woman nearly 40 times and cut her throat before shooting her twice with a high-powered rifle, police said.
Bettahar was killed in a shootout with Mounties west of Edmonton less than a week after the murder, but not before he shot and injured Sgt. Brian Topham, who was injured when a bullet grazed his skull.
Racha said the El-Dib family has been struggling to come to grips with Nadia’s tragic and brutal death, saying the murder six months ago feels “as if it happened yesterday.”
But Racha said she hopes women feeling trapped by an abusive relationship will break the stigma of being a victim and reach out to organizations that can help break free of abusers.
“When it comes to domestic abuse, we didn’t know how much of a taboo subject it was until we had to deal with it first-hand,” Racha said. “What we really want to tell people is reach out to those helplines.
“These helplines are there to help these women take the steps. Even just to have somebody to listen to, to tell you that ‘this is OK, this is not OK’ when it comes to a significant other.”