Several humanitarian emergencies have led Amel to mobilize the skills she has acquired as an RFL practitioner close to disaster areas and affected populations.
On September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact in the Caribbean. In response, a French Red Cross emergency response effort was deployed to the island of St. Martin, which was particularly affected by the passage of the powerful tropical cyclone. As a staff member trained in exceptional situations, Amel joined the first teams sent on site 48 hours after the disaster, in order to assess the needs and organize the RFL response with another colleague in charge of the RFL mission, for almost two weeks. “I have fond memories of this first emergency mission, Amel recalls, “It was a real baptism by fire on a personal and organizational level, and it contributed to a better integration of RFL issues in emergency and relief operations within our National Society.”
More recently, Amel was deployed as a Rapid Deployment Unit with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in North Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo) following the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano on May 22, 2021. This two-month experience allowed her to discover the working methods of the ICRC, the functioning of a delegation in the field and the RFL mission in an emergency context. Amel's mission was to support the Congolese sister National society in the implementation of RFL activities to maintain links and research for thousands of people separated by this large-scale natural disaster. Amel explains that "This experience allowed me to concretely realize the strength of the Movement and of our networking. The exchanges and sharing of expertise were rich, and everyone grew by working together”.
Amel has been passionate about her work for over ten years. She continues, "When I joined the Red Cross, I realized that the principle of humanity was very meaningful in RFL's mission.
Accompanying people in distress, trying to find out what happened to their loved ones, can be a long and difficult process. The needs are huge and are constantly increasing due to the rising number of humanitarian crises. We try to respond to these needs within the limits of our resources. This can sometimes generate some frustration, but in reality, it only strengthens my desire to act.
– Amel Khelifa-Kerfa, France
”I have learned that patience and perseverance are essential to establish your authority”
Being a committed woman and a leader in the humanitarian field does not have to be incompatible. It is true that the road towards leadership positions can be slower when you are a woman, but it is not impossible to get there. I have learned that patience and perseverance are essential to establish your authority.”
Research shows that gender diverse managerial teams are related to positive performance outcomes.