People in SEKEM: Zarifa Kamal

With a beautiful smile, just like the meaning of her name implies, Zarifa says: “Smiling can defeat problems and worries. To move forward, you should give your back to sorrows and all negative.” Zarifa Kamal is a Packaging Technician in the packaging department of ATOS Pharma, SEKEMs company for phytopharmaceuticals. The word “Zarifa” means in Arabic nice and companionable, but Zarifa Kamal is also a self-dependant lady, who truly believes in her own power and values: “Women should realize their own potentials, rather than waiting for the prince charming, asking him to achieve their life goals.”

Zarifa Kamal, who finished her studies in commerce and then got married in 1987, “was not thinking about starting a profession at that time”, as she recounts a bit desperately. But her plans and thoughts changed, when her husband had to work abroad, in order to increase their household income. Zarifa, who preferred not to travel and to stay with her family, decided to work in her community to contribute to raising their income. “When I chose to work, I wished to effectively serve the society at the same time. So, I decided to help other women, by teaching them and raising their awareness towards their rights in education and learning.”

Balance work and family life

For 13 years, before joining SEKEM, the mother of two daughters and one son worked in teaching female adults in different schools. “It was hard to convince some women of the importance of learning and independence, after living most of their lifetimes relying on others”, she declares. However, spending long time at work and leaving her children with her family, forced Zarifa to quit the job. “My husband was away most of the time and I had to raise my children by my own”, the devoted mother reveals.

The 47 years-old lady, who lives in Belbeis, very close to the SEKEM Farm, was then told by a friend about the initiative and how female co-workers are supported. “I felt SEKEM like a gift of God. I already had a picture of how it looks like and surprisingly, I found it the same in reality”, the devoted SEKEM co-worker states. “The working environment, that fosters the individual development of the employees and the progress of the community that is supported, is what I always wanted to be a part of.”

The mindful SEKEM technician is working in the packaging department of ATOS Pharma’s factory now since 10 years. “I have been watching every progressing step in the factory”, says Zarifa, who witnessed the technical development in the past years. “We used to do most of the packaging operations manually. But now there are new updated machines, which we use besides the manual process.” The reliable SEKEM co-worker can pack around 1600 boxes of ATOS phytopharmaceuticals products per day. Besides, she is regularly attending the training and educating sessions, which SEKEM offers its employees.

Zarifa’s secret: “Do not think too much about the past, but look to the future with confidence.”

SEKEM enabled Zarifa to work and in the same time raise her today grown-up children successfully. “The flexible working hours at SEKEM and the advisory sessions were quite helpful to me during my phase as a young mother”, she tells. Her youngest daughter and her son joined SEKEMs Vocational Training Center and recently graduated. ”My daughter is even continuing to study at the university now”, Zarifa states proudly and her son is following the profession of his mother as a technician.

Obviously, Zarifa is not only resembling her name by her good companionable character, but she is also quite sincere and profoundly belonging to SEKEM. “I feel grateful to my colleagues and superiors. We used to stand together in good or bad circumstances, supporting each other like a family”, says Zarifa, who was once chosen as the employee of the month for ATOS Pharma. “I always advise everyone to not concern too much about what happened in the past. You should be full of faith and trust in the good things that the future will bring. Like that you will overcome any problem and will even laugh at it”, the cheerful lady tells with a voice full of hope.

Noha Hussein

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