A Young ChangemakHER story - Rofida Essam increasing access to first aid training

Rofida is one of the winners of the 2019 Young ChangemakHERs Transformative Journey and Competition. She has been actively working on shifting community mindsets in Cairo to raise awareness about the importance of First Aid by increasing people's access to training. Despite the challenges in 2020, she continued expanding her initiative by using her changemakHER's abilities to innovate, adapt and find new solutions. Learn more on how she has been adapting her work and how she experienced the Transformative Journey and Competition through this interview.
ChangemakHER Rofida Essam

Looking back at Young ChangemakHERs as an experience, what have you learned the most? 

Whenever I look back and remember the days of Young ChangemakHERs I feel very emotional and nostalgic. This is one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve participated in. I’ve personally been involved in lots of training and workshops since I was very young but Young ChangemakHERs as an experience has been the best one of them. During the program, I have built strong bonds and friendships with other participants. We have learnt a lot from each other through our peer-to-peer mentoring and we were always keen to support and listen to each other.

Regarding the program itself, the trainers were very professional; they delivered the sessions in the most interactive ways to be fully understood. All that we’ve learnt has not only benefited us in the competition and our changemaking journeys but helped us in our day-to-day activities and deeply enriched our own experiences and personal skills. 

What were your favorite sessions during the Young ChangemakHERs?

All the sessions were very informative to us but if I am going to name one of them, I will choose "Thinking Out of the Box". It was my favorite one as it helped me become more creative and able to think of feasible and innovative methodologies to do things. 

What advice do you give to other young people interested in Young Changemakers?

To make the best of their learning experiences throughout the whole journey. To always ask questions if they feel like they don’t understand any content and to do lots of research while developing their initiatives. To encourage them to try new things and to not be afraid to co-operate with other participants.

How have you advanced your initiative during the pandemic of COVID-19? 

Before the pandemic, I was planning to give my First Aid sessions in different faculties in Egypt. I was planning to start with the faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University. However, due to the country lockdown and extreme weather conditions that happened last march, the sessions got canceled and it drove me to explore other innovative solutions to deliver them. I saw an opportunity to adapt the sessions in online form and to raise awareness among a bigger number of people.

I’ve delivered five health awareness sessions through Zoom where 250 participants from different backgrounds attended. For example, we had students from medical universities, pharmaceutical universities, and from the faculty of sciences of both public and private universities in Egypt. 

By the end of the sessions, I shared a survey with participants and the feedback was great. Shifting to online mode was a great challenge to all of us. However,  it helped us to find innovative solutions, and to think differently and empathetically. I will continue delivering my sessions virtually until I can work on-ground again. 

What are the next plans for your initiative? 

Regarding my initiative, I will continue delivering First Aid sessions virtually until the situation gets better to do them in-person. I aim to also revise and develop the content that I am delivering and add more information to it on how to deal with COVID-19 responsibly.