For World Humanitarian Day 2019, we’re sharing perspectives from CARE’s humanitarian workers around the world. Ahlam began her job as a hygiene promotion field officer, providing hygiene kits and working closely with community leaders to assess water and sanitation needs, in Yemen in May and is learning to handle stereotypes and other challenges in the field.
As a woman humanitarian I have to deal with multiple challenges and stereotypes. There is a feeling from some colleagues that as a woman I may not be able to manage frequent field travel. My family is always concerned about me traveling — mostly with male colleagues —to the field. Beneficiaries ask me personal questions like, “Are you married?” and “How do you work as a woman?” This is particularly common when I meet communities who are not familiar with women in formal employment.
After I graduated from university, I knew I wanted to work in the humanitarian sector. I was lucky to get a job with CARE Yemen in Sana’a. After six years as an administrative assistant, I had a strong desire to move into program work. I wanted to travel to the field, meet the people we serve and see first-hand the great work CARE is doing. I was so excited when I became a hygiene promotion field officer in May this year – my dream had come true.
As someone new to the field, I feel an enormous sense of motivation when I see that CARE’s assistance really is reducing people’s suffering. It makes me feel that against all the odds, we can still put a smile on people’s faces. I am constantly motivated by the resilience of the communities I meet.
I’m studying for a master’s degree, so I must balance my studies, work, and the household chores my family still expects of me. As a Yemeni woman, travelling to the field without a male guardian worries my family a lot, and I frequently must reassure them that I am fine and that all is well.
Above all, I want to help my people
It’s difficult when I meet vulnerable communities knowing that we cannot provide all the assistance they need. I sometimes feel helpless, and it hurts when I see women with children struggling to survive, not knowing how long this crisis will last.
My new job is challenging but I am ready to face it. I know I have the potential and that I can excel in this role. I want to grow within the organization and within the sector and, above all, I want to help my people. My ambition is to be among the top female staff leading CARE’s work in Yemen. I know this is the beginning of my big dream, and that good things will be coming by the will of Allah.