Ruby Haji Naif, the resilient anthropologist
While other kids were dreaming about being a doctor or an engineer, Ruby Haji Naif was adamant: she was going to be a journalist.
Growing up in pre-civil war Syria, the young girl was not sure why, but she wanted to be in the heart of the action. I didn’t really know how journalism worked, but I was drawn to the excitement of reporting from the field. Little did I know that journalism can be so much more powerful and actually change lives.
After the civil war started, Rubby left to Beirut, where she pursued a BA in anthropology and political science. There, she fell in love with the study of human relations and what would become the drive of her future activism: behavioural change. the study of human nature is key to unfolding
It became such an obvious answer to the problems I was witnessing around me and back home, in Syria. I genuinely believe that the study of human nature is key to unfolding, better understanding and finding solutions to the challenges of our times.
Eager to put this theory into practice, the young woman started enrolling in all the courses, internships and workshops she could lay her hands on. Through the EU-funded D-JIL programme, she entered a mentorship programme with Raseef22, which gave her concrete tools to convey her message, with a specific focus on the Arab world audiences. We got to learn from actual professionals, who taught us what day to day journalism meant. This really prepared me to such a wide range of sectors in the media and turned my vision around.” This is also when Ruby learned about the power of journalism for social transformation. “It was no longer about being in the middle of the action, but about advocating for change and putting the spotlight on under-reported issues.
Since then, Ruby has continued taking on courses, honing her many skills to promote change at her level. A consultant on Middle East engagement for a number of foreign organisations, she is drawing up plans for a startup aimed at providing guidance for NGOs intervening in the region.
Despite the challenges and discouragement, do not lose hope. Once you find what you are passionate about, use all your creativity to achieve it. Working towards your passion will give you the energy and motivation to change things.