Editor: Jessica Milsom

I was born and raised in a middle-class family in Damascus, Syria. I have two sisters and one brother and I spent most of my childhood playing outside with the neighborhood kids and with my two cousins who are like sisters to me. 

Since the start of the war in Syria, in 2011, I started working in the humanitarian sector. First started in Syria, then went on missions in South Sudan, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Libya, always working with the International Red Cross.

My work in the humanitarian sector opened my eyes to bittersweet realities. I learned that extreme circumstances, such as wars, conflict and tragic loss of loved ones can bring the worst of some, but for the majority of us, it actually brings the best of people. I have always been inspired by voluntary work, community solidarity and by the sense of good that most of us, humans, have within us and that we enact when called upon. 

It’s important not to underestimate the contributions that each of us can make, no matter how small, a friendly good morning to a neighbor, a small donation to a charity, or babysitting for a tired parent….that small actions combined can bring about real change. 

Muhammad Yunus, the world famous social entrepreneur has a really inspiring quote: “you don’t need to be a superhero to change the world, you just need to think of the biggest problems and start small”. I would add to that, take care of yourself first, and then go about to change the world.

Those of us who are fortunate, have a social responsibility towards those who are less fortunate for simply having been born in a marginalised neighbourhood, a broken family, a war zone.

I have always been passionate about learning languages, and the mobile nature of my work certainly helped ! During my travels, I learned French and Russian, then Portuguese, since I met my husband, Mário, who is from Portugal.

Mário and I got to know each other back in Syria, while he was also on mission with the International Red Cross. Our son, Filipe, was born in Kyiv. Our family then moved to Portugal in 2020 and we are now settling down in a calm farm by the river in the beautiful town of Ponte de Lima.

Balancing work, life and hobbies nowadays is the most challenging part of my day. I just feel that time runs so fast and I wish I could have 36 hours a day to do all that I want to do!

Currently, I am focusing on raising my son, taking care of our farm and volunteering. My dream is to continue working in the social sector, helping migrant children and women to integrate, lead a healthy life and build a bright future. I am looking for initiatives where I can fit in, deploy both my experience and passion to help that cause. I wonder what the future holds for me though, maybe I’ll start my own initiative!

-Sincerely, Roula Daoud

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