”The challenges have been good for me”
More than thirty years ago Kahilda Al Saifi was working as a nurse when she heard about the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Not much later, she became part of the society and entered a whole new world. “I have had many challenges throughout my career, but it was good for me. It prepared me for all the different challenging situations that we got into in the years that followed.”
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“When I started working for the Palestinian Red Crescent in 1998 the PRCS HQ was newly settled in occupied Palestinian Territories. In 2002 West Bank, including Rahmallah, was invaded and we needed to respond directly. I was living in Jerusalem at the time and wanted to help the people in need. But it was a real mess in Ramallah and nobody could enter the area. It was so stressful. Then I received the request to recruit some volunteers to promote the work of PRCS and help with the communication work from Jerusalem. Nobody had any experience, but we just started.

After two weeks I was able to join the local team in Ramallah and was asked by my director to take the responsibility for the administration department, while at the same time he nominated me for a Master’s degree scholarship in Health management-system. I had, again, no experience at all, but I did it. Every day was a challenge, but it was good for me. I learned so much. It prepared me for all the different challenging situations that we got into in the years that followed.

During my years with the PRCS I learned that women can achieve anything. There is no difference between men and women. Women have always joined alongside men in every layer in the humanitarian field. Here in Palestine we believe that women are the first responders, everywhere and at any time. It is our concern to support and develop their skills so that they can take on big responsibilities when they are the only ones in the area when something happens.

And that is what I like about the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Anyone can join and work in the field they desire. When I first started I was working as a nurse in the primary health department to support the community work by PRCS social workers and nurses, now I am the director of planning and development. The organisation gives you the chance to learn and be part of the organisation in any field that you like. So my advice to all women is: educate yourself, believe in yourself and speak up. There will always be someone who listens.”

Khalida Al Saifi

Palestine, 1998

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Women are more likely to diminish and undervalue their professional skills and achievements than their male counterparts.

– Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, American Association of University Women

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