Amal Hamad: A Commitment to Consistent Growth
Amal Hamad is from Einabous village near Nablus. She is studying family development at Al-Quds Open University. She has a great deal of experience volunteering with local and international organizations including the Red Crescent and Medical Relief. Mostly recently, she has been volunteering at Medeed Center for Mental Health and World Vision on Saturday and Sunday and volunteers at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization Monday through Thursday. She has been a volunteer for TYO’s Core Child AM Program for 2 sessions.
What has your professional experience been like outside of TYO?
I have gained the most professional experience outside TYO at Medeed Center for Mental Health. This center does work in the areas of mental health, orphan support, campaigns in school, and trainings for university students. The Center for Mental Health holds mental health therapy sessions in individual sessions and with family group sessions with focus on treatment for children. They also sponsor orphans and give them health and financial support. They also do awareness campaigns to decrease bad daily habits of children in school. These awareness campaigns educate students about the impact of bad language, the importance of respecting yourself and your community, and how to show respect through actions such as cleaning up the neighborhood. The trainings for university students who focus on mental health or psychology help prepare them for work in mental health in the future. I was a coordinator for the campaign program and a volunteer helping with the campaigns. I received training on individual and group mental health counseling. For me, this was very beneficial and helped me to practice what I studied at university during trainings and working with parents and children during the sessions.
What do you look for in a work environment?
I studied family development because when I was a kid at school, I experienced many stressful things that I wanted to talk to someone about. I wanted someone to give me answers or help me to feel less stressed as a child at school. At university, I chose this field of study because I didn’t want other kids to feel what I felt at school. I am very dedicated to help Palestinian families, especially the children to prevent mental health problems.
A work environment should be a productive environment. I want to make use of my 8 hours and see the outcome of my work every day. A good work environment would also involve teamwork. Working individually won’t be as productive as working as a team. Everyone has their own strengths and people can complement each other in their skills, so working as a team is important.
What skills have you gained at TYO so far?
My experience at TYO completes what I studied and what I am doing at Medeed because it is all in the same field. At TYO, there is closer observation of children’s behavior. Since we are working with the most disadvantaged areas, my observation is that each child has their own story and own challenges in life. Each child is a case in their own self. The classroom is a great field where I can add more information to my education and practical life. Closer observation of these children every day for 12 weeks inside the classroom has helped me to learn more about behavioral problems, problem solving with children, and develop patience, which is the most important criteria when working with children, especially ages 4-5. At the same time, younger ages of the children mean you can make changes as early as possible. By now, the 10th week, I can see changes in the children. This makes me feel proud that I am really making a change in the lives of these children.
I learned from volunteering how to be determined. To enter Nablus from Einabous, I have to cross Huwwara checkpoint. Sometimes I have to stand and wait for more than an hour. I have seen many students give up and return to their homes, missing their classes at the universities. I have become more determined to wait and make it past to help the children at TYO. When I am late to class, the children tell their teacher that they know for sure I am coming to see them. For me, being a determined person and having a goal to accomplish will help in my future career. If there is a case that comes to me in the future, I will be determined to finish the task. Recently, I got an offer for a job at an institution, but I felt I needed to finish what I started at TYO. If I start something, it should be completed. If I do not finish my commitment, this will impact my image with TYO and my relationship with the children will change if I turn my back on them. I am not selfish and think of the children first.
What is your career trajectory?
I have been offered 2 jobs. I want to be a manager for a center that deals with special needs or mental health problems for children. Until I reach this position, I need to feel that I have done or learned as much as I can to be ready for it. I am busy for 8-9 hours a day because I am trying to gain as much knowledge as possible to be the right person in the right place. I have done 35 trainings in English, IT, counseling, and leadership in an effort to continually be improving myself. Even between lectures, if I have one at 8:00 and another at 11:00, I will go and do something between the lectures to keep improving my skills. I do not waste any moment or opportunity with organizations where I am volunteering because at each place I will learn something new.
The Youth Service Learning (YSL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.
Interview conducted by Lindsey, International Internship & Fellowship Coordinator, and translated by Futoon, Outreach Coordinator