Hopscotch loves to celebrate women, fullstop, and Hopscotch Heroes is all about getting to know the superstars of our region winning at balancing work, life and family. We like to hear their stories, find out about their careers and home life and, more than anything, learn from some of their coping strategies to keep it all together!
This month, we're so pleased to introduce a true inspiration in this space. Mariam Farag is a mum of two boys, Head of CSR at MBC Group and active in the volunteer sector since the age of 14. Juggling lots of travel with a busy homelife is not an easy task, so we sat down with her to find out just what she does and, most importantly, how she makes it all work:
"Hello, I am Mariam Farag and I lead the CSR program at MBC Group, which is responsible for driving its corporate social responsibility vision and strategy in the region & globally. Founded & launched in 2013, MBC Group’s CSR arm, MBC Al Amal, is an ongoing interactive umbrella for the multitude of campaigns, initiatives, and contributions whether created, launched, supported or adopted by MBC Group.
I am a mother, a wife and a human being interested in youth and women affairs and I have been in the field of humanitarian causes and sustainability for almost 18 years now. Currently, I am married for 14 years with my Portuguese partner and we have two boys: Sami age 10 and Seif age 8. I believe that the support starts from home. My husband has got my back, believing in my mission and allowing me to spread my wings and expand my calling. My interest in volunteer work started when I was 14 years old. My mother planted in me the seed of giving, and to me my work is a calling not a job. Any day I spend in the office or on the field, I feel I am fulfilling my purpose.
Most of my time is spent interacting and engaging with the community & particularly the youth, key players from the public or private sector, nonprofit organizations or entrepreneurs. My best time is spent on the field visiting a refugee camp, youth center, universities, high schools and orphanages. That is why I am mostly on the road in order to maximize my reach in order to make a difference in people's lives and especially children & youth development.
Without a doubt my role model is my mom and I am really proud of her. My mother was divorced at the age of 37, with three young children to raise, my two elder brothers and I. In the 70’s, my mother succeeded to become a businesswoman, challenged the male dominated business world as well as the cultural taboos as a divorcee at the time in Egypt. She worked hard to put my brothers and I in the best schools and universities. As busy as she was, she was fully devoted to us and was always there for us. She was strong willed and powerful, and I learned from her that nothing is impossible. Her smile never left her face, our house was full of laughter and she never let her pain and worries affect us negatively. She encouraged me to start working at the age of 14, to learn how to be responsible and proactive. But mostly, to instill in me the importance of economic independence. I started to work during the summers and I did a lot of volunteering as well at the time.
I am constantly asked the question: how I am able to balance my roles. How do I manage my work, my home and my frequent travels at the same time, knowing that I have two young energetic boys at home with a full schedule of studies, activities and entertainment.
I stick to a strict routine and have a well-organized system. A strong support system at home that I constantly fall back on. My husband is my biggest supporter, as are my friends and my mother. I also have extra help at home to support me with the housework and errands. Over the years, i have failed, made mistakes, cried, laughed and succeeded. Throughout my journey I have learned one thing: I need to find my space, my peace and my serenity. My way of de-stressing and emptying my glass is my usual workout. Otherwise, I won't be able to cope. You will just get overwhelmed and lose your control.
What keeps me moving forward is the impact I see on ground - the people. If I am able to inspire one woman to find her why, help develop one young student, support a young entrepreneur, or protect one child, it gives me power to move forward focusing on my mission and drowning the noise around me."