Khaleejigirl (KG) Interviews Maryam Al Ammadi!
We've never met in person but admiration towards another does not require that. Meet Mariam, the founder of the Female Network and Think Tank which is non-profit organization @Afkarech who's not stopping any time soon to spread her good deeds around the island!
KG: Please state your name.
A: My name is Mariam Alammadi
KG: Can you please give more details to your occupation or what you’re trying to accomplish?
A: I am a licensed psychologist and founder of my own psychological center (CFC Psychology & The Child Foundation Center) but my passion project is Afkarech Female Network and Think Tank which is non-profit organization that is run by myself and a committee of ten amazing women. I founded Afkarech in 2017 as a place for women to feel celebrated, accepted and to be encouraged to follow their dreams. Our mantra has always been women “defining success on their own terms”. We hold monthly meetings, social events, workshops and promote charitable works in our community.
KG: Why did you choose this as occupation?
A: I have always been passionate about helping people fulfill their potential and feel that there is hope and the ability to have a dream at any age particularly women who often put themselves last. I think it ties hand in hand with being a psychologist and being able to understand people and helping them overcome obstacles in their lives.
KG: Please describe the journey that led you towards being in your current occupation.
A: It has not always been a linear pattern. I have always championed other women and been a great supporter of collaboration and mentorship among women. In some ways looking back it was actually a natural progression of who I am. I took courses about female leadership in my spare time and having lived all around the world became very interested in different cultures and perspectives. I believe that is the tapestry of life – all these threads become the sum of who you are as a person. Charity is something that my parents instilled in me and I really believe it is important to be aware of others and being a helping hand in their lives. You never know when you may find yourself in a similar situation – empathy is very important.
KG: Was it an easy journey that led you here?
A: No, it takes confidence and belief in yourself to think you can start something new. I think there have been times in my life I have struggled with confidence or felt that other people would be able to execute something better. Often, we wait until we get everything perfect before embarking on a new challenge or project. Others can often have similar ideas but what separates you from them is putting the wheels in motion – starting. That is what I realised about myself – I am a “starter”. I do not procrastinate and now I follow my dreams with tenacity. I want to help other women be able to do this too. Plant the seed – believing that you can is the first step to changing your life.
KG: Was there any person that inspired you or tried to discourage you from your current occupation?
A: In any job or occupation there will be always be competitors or someone telling you ways you should have done something. I try to stay away from any negativity and for the most part it doesn’t affect me. I am lucky in that I have a wonderful Vice President Lovy Joseph who I didn’t know prior to establishing Afkarech and our friendship grew from shared goals and mutual respect. She keeps me grounded and is often the voice of reason. I may have planted the seed but these wonderful women are who keep Afkarech growing and blooming and I am forever grateful to them – Rawan, Mubina, Layla, Amanda, Hind, Shiney, Ahlam, Nadia and Sonorita thank you! I recommend listening especially to constructive criticism which can often be hard to hear but always remembering and celebrating you did it and nobody can ever take that away from. We improve, we learn and we grow.
KG: What advice do you have for a younger @Khaleejigirl who is considering following your footsteps?
A: When you are younger our uniqueness can often be something we look at as a flaw when in reality it is an asset. Think outside the box, be different and be you. Remember you always add something and you are irreplaceable. Do not aim to be me – aim to be better!
KG: Can you please talk about your Ramadan initiative and how others can help?
A: Every Ramadan we select a cause that aligns with our goals as a female think tank and the UN Sustainability 2030 Goals. It is for this reason we have decided to focus on education – goal 4 for this year. We are in an unprecedented crisis and it is at this time that our empathy must shine through to help those less fortunate than ourselves. COVID-19 has robbed many of their livelihoods in Bahrain and as their struggles compound many are unable to even pay the school fees for their children. This is an issue that has resonated with us at Afkarech™ Female Network & Think Tank and we decide to stand up for our future generation. This Ramadan our initiative “صفي by Afkarech” (“My Class by Afkarech”) will provide school tuition fees over the months of April, May and June for girls whose families have fallen upon difficult times and are looking at discontinuing their education due to a lack of funds.
KG: Why is the initiative so important right now?
A: We have partnered with schools like the Pakistan School, Philippine School, The Asian School, Bangladesh School among others to ensure that we can help girls from underprivileged families continue their education. As the Kingdom of Bahrain is a melting pot of diverse nationalities who come together to make our community a better place it was important to us to include female students from Bahrain, India, Pakistan, The Philippines and Bangladesh. Afkarech has always believed that education is the best tool to change the world. Educate a girl child and she will change the world. So, help us as we strive to change the world – one girl child at a time. By ensuring our girls get uninterrupted education, we can build a strong foundation for a better tomorrow because an educated woman has a brighter future and the ability and knowledge to rise above poverty, malnutrition, to lead more productive lives and help raise the standard of living for themselves, their children, their families and their communities.
Each school has been given as assessment form to follow thoroughly to ensure our help only goes to those who truly need it. This assessment form also will take evidence that these families have been affected financially as a direct result of COVID19. Donations will be paid directly to each school to cover the school fees for the months of April, May and June. The schools we have partnered with are truly excited by this initiative and know how much of a difference it will make in the lives of the families we are trying to help.
KG: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
A: Thank you, Noor, for this great platform “KhaleejiGirl” and for always supporting @Afkarech. I appreciate it and you so much. Being a voice for women is so important especially in the MENA region is extremely important and that is showing these young hope that they can be anything they want to be.