“This has changed the country” – Interview with Mariam, PFPPA’s longest serving member of staff

My name is Mariam, I am 67 years old and have been working with PFPPA since 1974. I started to work when the issue of family planning was not accepted. The work of PFPPA has had a great impact on the community since I have worked here. For example, my mother gave birth to 12, I gave birth to five and I didn’t want that, but my sisters all had two or three. Family planning has become essential. From 1974 to 1987, the year of the First Intifada, I was the only employee here and the doctor came every Sunday. Now the organisation has grown from strength to strength, there are nurses, social workers and doctors and this has changed the country and there is much more understanding of our work. 

We have seen some changes in relation to abortion over time as well, especially when women come in after having an unsafe abortion and we are able to provide post-abortion care. We have also been able to help women with harm reduction information about abortion pills rather than doing something dangerous. The women thank us a lot and are very happy with the support. In the past these methods were not available, today you can get pills on the internet and there is more support available.

I think that the work that I do is very important. People are in need and you have the duty to serve your country, I could not be in other fields. I feel very proud of what I do. Fifteen years ago, mothers here were peasants, working on the field, so they used to send daughters to get the pills or contraception and now these daughters know and come and take them. The centre is well known in Hebron and Bethlehem and it has become the flagship for family planning.

Working here has also helped me in my personal life. When my daughter was sixteen she received a proposal of marriage from someone from a nearby village. My husband was going to accept but I said to him “impossible, if you do that we will divorce and I will pay for her studies”. I made that decision and was able to pay for her education in Bethlehem University and now she is a director of a school.

The best thing in my life is when a woman comes and I am able to help her. Although I have a life outside work, I prefer the morning when I come here. I love the women who come here for help.