Leaning forward to listen to young men crowded around a table, Hana Masoud confidently responds to their questions on volunteering. Her rapport with young people is a clue to how she mobilized Palestinian villagers to demand – and receive – quality health care.
Hana’s life changed when she joined a USAID health development initiative in her village. Once a jobless graduate, she has grown into an internationally-recognized youth leader. “I learned that each person has something to give,” she says, “and it was my duty to look for these things in the community.”
Her chance came when USAID began working in Burqa, a northern West Bank village. Using the Champion Community approach, USAID brings together Palestinians and their clinics to identify and address local health priorities. Hana’s job was to encourage residents to join in.
This was no easy task. “People didn’t trust the health care services,” she explains. But Hana wanted to make a difference. “I knew that this was my opportunity to repair my village and achieve health reform,” she says.
Hana found her own champions in other women in the village. “[They] had a desire to challenge,” she explains. “One of the biggest achievements was how women changed from just receiving health lectures to actively participating in campaigns previously limited to men.”
Things really started moving when Hana asked young men and women in Burqa to participate. “Young people have energy,” she explains, “but there is nowhere for them in the village but cafes.” Youth volunteers created a popular Facebook page for the clinic, led cleaning campaigns, and helped organize a mass evacuation drill – the first ever in the West Bank.
When USAID invited her to participate in its youth leadership conference in Morocco, Hana realized what they had achieved. “I realized I had been chosen because the young people in Burqa had succeeded,” she says. “I am proud that I was able to serve my community.”
Last updated: August 14, 2012