A STORY TO TELL
Our Hygiene Officer in Bekaa Jamila Ramadan tells us how we are contributing to a healthy world and shares future ambition to start her own business.
PRACTICE MAKES HEALTHY
Jamila has just finished observing the first half of today’s Hygiene Club activities in al-Rafid town in Bekaa. Children here are attending hygiene-focused sessions to learn about hand-washing and solid waste management. The activities include a puppet show and the distribution of hygiene kits, usually the most exciting part.
‘’We see the difference in the way children behave and acquire certain habits,’’ says Jamila as she takes her chair on the colourful play mats. ‘’When we deliver our hygiene promotion sessions, there is a message and call for change in some unhealthy habits that children might be inadvertently following.
‘’We try to understand, for example, how they get rid of solid waste or how they use water. When we meet them thereafter, we notice the difference that our message had.’’
A BETTER WORLD
Change in behaviour is at the heart of the Water Sanitation and Hygiene department’s mission, which Jamila has been part of for three years. When she first joined Save the Children, it was with the conviction that she would work to improve lives.
Working across vast swathes of towns in Lebanon has represented many challenges, but the satisfaction is always big.
‘’There is nothing more satisfying than knowing children are happy,’’ Jamila says with a visible glint in her eyes. ‘’The precious smile on their faces is our satisfaction. Families appreciate what we are doing. They appreciate that we are teaching children good behaviour and healthy practices. We see that in our visits to schools and houses.’’
Jamila associates any success with one significant factor; trust. ‘’We cannot get our message across without acceptance,’’ she explains. ‘’It is not easy to gain the trust of the people in what you do. People trust that we are there to help them.’’
As our chat goes on, it becomes evident that Jamila has amassed a wealth of knowledge about what she does. The combination of academic and professional expertise seems to have unleashed special talent for self-expression in her.
Jamila holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Among friends and family, she takes the role of the dietitian, which she seems to relish.
‘’Friends and relatives come to me when they need an advice on their diet. I try to help as much as I can. It would be great to have my own clinic where I can practice what I have learned.
‘’I follow everything new in the world of health and nutrition. I keep an eye out for new trends, medications or any breakthroughs.’’
The Canadian-born says she would love to have ‘’my own healthy food restaurant, my own recipes and my own clinic,’’ although she has not yet decided where her dream restaurant and clinic would be located. Could she move back to Canada? ‘’probably,’’ she replies.
‘’I have been travelling around many places over the past three years. I have been to Paris and Dubai. I fell in love with Paris and I would surely go back.’’
But there is no desire to think too far ahead.
‘’The next ten years? It is difficult to know,’’ she wraps up, with a genuine laugh.
Interview: Ahmed Bayram, Save the Children
Photos: Nour Wahid, Save the Children