“My mother, rest her soul in peace, was a leading character in my life and my role model; she was a hard worker yet always found the time for community service as well as for her family. Helping others was her true calling and source of joy and she planted that seed in me,” says Naglaa Ahmed, the social development manager in SEKEM.
A question that changed her life
First, Naglaa studied at the faculty of commerce and held several jobs in the fields of export and marketing. “It was all exciting and related to my studies but it didn’t allow me to pursue my purpose in life,” the SEKEM co-worker tells. Grown up in a charitable home, she was watching her mother, Samia Ibrahim, who was always involved in community service and pursuing her dreams and life goals. Hence, she finally asked herself the question: what is my role in this life and what would bring me the most joy? She then joined the U.S. Aid and worked on several projects in Upper Egypt training agriculture students on the market field. In 2011 she then joined SEKEM as a social development manager.
“I remember the first thing he ever said to me was ”You’re beautiful’.”
Naglaa remembers her first encounter with SEKEM founder Ibrahim Abouleish very well. “Dr. Ibrahim was a unique and influential person in my life; he saw energy and beauty in me and helped me see it too. I remember the first thing he ever said to me was ‘you’re beautiful’”. It was then when I realized that beauty truly lies within me” she recounts. “But I was also very happy when he told me that he appreciated my answers on the agriculture topic from a sustainable social development view.”
“When you get introduced into a new culture and environment, you need to try to become a part of it instead of forcing yourself and your way on the people.”
Since then, Naglaa has been working on social development projects in different Egyptian cities mainly related to agriculture in association with EBDA (Egyptian Bio-Dynamic Association). “When you get introduced into a new culture and environment, you need to try to become a part of it instead of forcing yourself and your way on the people,” she says about her experiences at work. “I enjoyed experiencing the different traditions of each of the cities I visited and of the farmers. We always managed to find things in common and also teach each other new things. That was an experience I wanted to share with my daughter Salma and she loved it as much as I did when I once took her with me” recalls Naglaa.
The committed SEKEM co-worker gained many experiences and memories during her various work projects in different Egyptian governorates. She offered to the farmers, their families and the entire community illiteracy classes, nurseries, veterinary convoys, sewing classes, computer skills classes and much more. “It brings me joy when someone remembers me after years from the project and they tell me how it helped them and their families. For instance, I remember that one time, a woman I had never met before, approached me and hugged me saying how the computer skills course helped her son to get his job which brought them a better life,” emotionally recalls Naglaa, who loves to join the cultural activities offered to the SEKEM employees herself. The powerful woman with the positive energy has a gift for singing, which she got to explore some time ago during a theater play along with her colleagues and friends.
Opening the gate for Students’ Community Service
One of the closest projects to her heart and which combines her several talents was with Faculty of Pharmacy of Heliopolis University where the students and teachers’ assistants put together a play which was presented in public schools to raise awareness about chronic diseases and how to prevent them.”I loved watching the passion of the students while working on the project as well as the excitement of the school students it was presented to,” Naglaa reveals. “And the enthusiasm spread. Now also students of the Faculty of Agriculture ask to join for any community service I partake in. This is overwhelming and truly opens my heart and regenerates my energy.”
Now, Naglaa is a mother herself and at the age of forty. She still tries to follow the footsteps of her mother spending much personal time with her daughters and being committed to community service. Now, Naglaa is a role model herself trying to guide and inspire her children and everyone she encounters to find their passion and their purpose to fulfill in life.