One of the very nice things about my position at the Soor Center is getting to be involved in the community with Kuwaitis who are passionate about their country, and determined to bring about beneficial change.
In the past I’ve spent some time on mental health awareness projects working with “the S.P.E.A.K.(Standing for Psychological Education and Awareness in Kuwait) girls” – Dalal and Alaa Al-Homaizi. Their determination to bring the issue of mental illness out into the open and de-stigmatize the experience of mental illness has been nothing less than astounding – and it’s working.
Most recently, I’ve been privileged to be a part of the Teddy Bear Hospital initiative spearheaded by Dalal Al Ahmadi, along with the help of an amazing crew of volunteer Kuwait University medical students. Essentially, a mini “hospital” for teddy bears is set up to demystify the process of medical treatment. Dalal recounted to me how she’d had an encounter with the Teddy Bear Hospital in Halifax Nova Scotia when she was four, and she still clearly remembered the event, and how positive an impact it had on her perception of doctors and medicine (Clearly! She’s now a med student.)
The concept itself is well known globally, and to see it implemented here is exciting. I’m not the only one who thinks this because the response was overwhelming. I got to see the controlled pandemonium at Mall 360 for myself on March 15th as the KU med students shepherded their little groups of children with teddy bears through the stations. The kids were absolutely fascinated by the stations; general exam, x-rays (“That’s what my hand looks like inside?!”), injections and blood donations, nutrition, and surgery. Oh, and the dentist. Let’s not forget the dentist and the opportunity for the kids to brush a dinosaur’s teeth. Brilliant.
My point is this. There are people passionate about this country, and they’re determined to contribute to the betterment of society and the country for no other reason than that they do love Kuwait. Change in any environment is difficult to implement and requires sustained and significant effort to achieve. To change a whole society’s perspective is a daunting and often unrewarding task, but someone must take the initiative to identify the need and come up with a plan to address that need. Kudos to everyone who’s involved in doing just that.
I personally know these particular girls – but I also know there are a lot more people determined to make a difference in whatever area they are passionate about. There are ongoing projects to clean the beaches, remove garbage from Kuwait’s coral reefs, recycle plastic, find renewable energy sources, protect vulnerable children, care for animals, invest in the environment… and those are just the ones I can think of without effort.
Bravo! I love the way Kuwait parties in February, but I also appreciate the year round effort to make this country worth celebrating.
If you know someone passionate about making a difference in Kuwait, get with the program. Go join up. Add your hands, heart, and hope to the effort to brighten Kuwait’s future. And if you’re already involved, take a moment to thank whoever inspired you to action. Everyone appreciates hearing that what he or she is doing is having an impact.
To Dalal, Alaa and Dalal – y’all so rock. Thanks for letting me (and the Soor Center) have a small part in your big plans.
A Canadian psychologist traveling the world on a busman’s holiday, Dr. Susannah writes about anything that catches her attention. Bossy from birth, compassionate by choice, and funny by accident. You can visit: www.soorcenter.com or follow her on Twitter: @drsusannah.