I have been involved with MEWSo since 2013 when I was looking to do voluntary work with women from other countries.
As a feminist I have a firm commitment to supporting women, and in my professional life I ran a centre for women with alcohol issues for many years. I trained and worked as a Gestalt therapist (which focuses on an individual's experience and emphasises personal responsibility) and had an interest in women’s mental health. In 2012 I also qualified as a TESOL teacher (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and was keen to try out my new skills.
Born in Egypt, I grew up in France, Japan, Portugal and Ethiopia so I have a great respect for people from other countries and cultures.
Not knowing much about women from the Middle East, I was intrigued by the idea of Halaleh Taheri’s fledgling organisation, especially as she told me that her priority was a new pilot project offering a befriending network and counselling to Middle Eastern women who were suffering from depression, domestic abuse and other mental health problems.
When we met, she was working in a large building in Holloway Road, North London, but had no office. I was impressed by her determination, humour and zeal. She seemed completely committed and was in the middle of the arduous task of applying for funding. She needed someone who could help teach English to these women and I was more than happy to do that.
Over the years, I have gotten to know Halaleh very well and I am proud to call her my friend. She has worked and continues to work tirelessly for the benefit of Middle Eastern women so when she asked me to be Chair of MEWSo's Board of Trustees, I was honoured to do so. After several years in that role I have now stepped back a little but remain a dedicated trustee on the Board.