Sunday, February 12, 2012

Magen David Adom's First Muslim Ambulance Driver

In the last several years, there have been more and more Israeli Arabs and other Israeli minority groups, especially women, moving into areas of Israeli society where they haven't previously worked. I like highlighting these, and other Israeli pioneers, here. They offer a slice of life in Israel, good and bad, that you really can't understand from anything but an individual's experience.

Today's profile is of Sherian Kihia, a young Muslim woman from East Jerusalem, who is Magen David Adom's first Muslim ambulance driver. (Note: a commenter on this piece says that they work for MDA, and that there are other Muslim drivers. S/he thinks the article may mean to say the first Muslim woman driver.)

For years, 24-year-old Sherian Kihia of east Jerusalem dreamed of volunteering with the Magen David Adom emergency organization. In order to realize her ambition she had to overcome internal and external criticism about working alongside men and until the small hours of the night. 

For a moment she even feared she won't be able to find a match. But all this did not stop her from fulfilling her life's dream.

Now, after being admitted by MDA and making history as the organization's first Arab volunteer, she says with complete confidence: "I engage in saving lives and don’t get into questions of religion or nationality. I'm actually receiving a lot of support within my sector."

Her husband is supportive: "One of the problems was the fact that I get home late, which is unacceptable in my sector," she shares, "but my family supported me and so did my husband. He said, 'Do what you want. You have my support.'

"The truth is that I didn't even think about what people would say. Even before I met him I said I wouldn't want to marry a man who would be annoyed by the fact that I return home late or drive an ambulance."

It's hoped she will be a role model: Murad Salman, director of the east Jerusalem team, concludes: "We hope that Kihia's decision to join us will raise awareness for volunteer work among other young people from the Arab sector."

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