Reflections on the WFH Congress

Recipient of the 2010 Susan Skinner Memorial Fund Scholarship

Thomas Skinner, Salima Hadjammar

My name is Salima Hadjammar, and I am a young woman from Algeria with severe von Willebrand disease (VWD). When the president of our national association asked me to apply for the Susan Skinner Memorial Fund Scholarship, I never thought I would receive such an honor. I was therefore surprised and overjoyed to learn that I had been chosen. With this scholarship, I was able to attend the XXIX International Congress of the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH), including the training sessions for national member organizations (NMOs).

The most valuable part of the Congress to me was the impressive number of people from different cultures and backgrounds, with different opinions and views, who attended. The sessions were fascinating, but what I remember most are the people I met.

The NMO sessions were an opportunity to learn more about the WFH’s position on different issues and about its work in different areas related to bleeding disorders. It was during these sessions that I came to realize and appreciate that VWD is a significant concern for the WFH, as was highlighted by the creation of a VWD committee.

Workshop participants were divided into groups and themes chosen according to the needs of each group. For a novice like me, the workshop on organizing events was very useful. I learned a strategic approach to organizing an event as well as which mistakes should be avoided so as not to negatively impact our efforts.

After three days of training, the Congress officially opened. An impressive organizational feat, an event of massive scale where you don’t even realize time is going by as you are caught up in discussions and communications. This gathering made me realize that we are not alone in dealing with this disease and that throughout the world; people are working to achieve Treatment for All. I was proud to represent my country.

During the Congress, the other two recipients of the Susan Skinner Scholarship and I were treated to another privilege and honor: a chance to meet with Messrs. Skinner, father and son, over a lunch shared with a few WFH staff members. Despite our considerable cultural differences, we understood each other and were able to get to know each other and to share some pleasant moments. Such consideration can only encourage us to keep moving forward.

In closing, I have to say that this Congress was a unique experience for me. It made me realize how important and necessary it is that I take part in the efforts that are underway to improve the daily lives and the treatment and care available to persons with bleeding disorders in Algeria.

By Salima Hadjammar
December 2010