Volunteers find themselves at the Red Cross for dozens of reasons, but for Mariam Souleyman, it’s in her blood.
Born in the African country of Chad, Mariam is a second-generation Red Crosser who has grown up with the organization around the world through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
For decades, Mariam’s mother was a doctor who volunteered at the Red Cross of Chad, providing critical care to those affected by malaria, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and other life-threatening conditions. Mariam’s cousin has also been a longtime volunteer with the French Red Cross whose time has been devoted to providing relief and services for Syrian refugees.
As Mariam grew up, she knew she wanted to keep her connections with the Red Cross, even while she was pursuing her education in America. It was here where Mariam found the Central Florida Region of the Red Cross while attending the University of South Florida (USF). She is in her second consecutive internship, serving in various roles in disaster cycle services, with more than 170 hours served to date.
“It is interesting seeing the different areas of focus between the international society and America,” Souleyman said. “Back in Chad, much of the work of the Red Cross is related to health emergencies and humanitarian aid. Here, I see a greater focus on disaster preparedness and relief. In both cases, we’re still helping people who need us.”
Mariam is currently a senior at USF where she is getting her degree in Business Analytics and Information Systems. After graduation, Mariam wants to go back to Africa and help those who are in need the most. Joyfully, she knows the Red Cross of Chad will welcome her back with open arms.
“I want to help people,” Souleyman said. “As simple as it sounds, I just want to help people.”