ChildFund welcomes Rukhsana Ayyub as National Director for U.S. programs in the Americas Region.
Rukhsana speaks English and Urdu. She attended Adelphi University in New York, where she completed a post-master’s addiction specialist certificate program. She holds a Master of Arts degree in psychology from New York’s New School for Social Research and a Master of Arts in psychology from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan.
What do you enjoy most about working for ChildFund?
For more than 15 years I worked in the U.S. in the field of addiction and domestic violence. Then for the next seven years I lived and worked in Asia Region, focusing on prevention of HIV with some of the most excluded and vulnerable populations. Now I feel I have come full circle by returning home to work with some of our most diverse, excluded and vulnerable populations right here in the U.S. I joined ChildFund as of March 2010.
It is an exciting as well as challenging time to lead the U.S. Program. We have just completed our Country Strategy Paper (CSP), which has given us the opportunity to better understand the context of child poverty in the U.S. Our CSP is guiding us on the road to becoming a stronger organization and having a significant impact on the lives of children. Our children are our hope for the future. I like working with ChildFund due to its focus on children and its approach of making a long-term commitment to work with children in need globally as well as within the USA. I also like the fact that ChildFund is an international organization, and as such provides opportunities to share and learn from ChildFund colleagues around the globe.
In most of our program areas we promote reading, healthy habits and restoration of cultural values among children, youth and families.
My U.S. team consists of the most diverse and dedicated people who are committed to the cause of improving the lives of children.
In moving around and meeting new people during your career, what place is the most memorable?
I have been lucky to have had the chance to travel and work in countries other than the U.S., where I have lived most of my adult life, and Pakistan where I was born and raised.
I love both my birth country and my adopted country, but the place that left the most impact on me has clearly been Bangladesh. The poverty and frequent natural disasters have created a resiliency and strength in people that we can all learn from. I have never seen more people smiling and singing than when I was in Bangladesh.
Almost all of our workshops, even those that dealt with serious issues of death, suicide prevention, overdose on drugs, included sessions where people would break out into singing Tagore’s poetry. It was most healing, empowering and something I will never forget. More recently my work with ChildFund has allowed me to travel to our Program Areas is some of the most remote and rural areas in the Great Plains and Mississippi. The vastness and extreme beauty of our landscape is sadly coupled with extreme poverty.
How do you relax? Do you have any hobbies?
Getting lost in a good book is always my best way of relaxing. My most precious times as a child was my mother reading to me at bedtime, then later as a mother I read to my children. Now I read to myself — all kinds of books, fiction, nonfiction and Urdu poetry. I am always amazed at the power of the written word. I love to pass my books on to friends and family. I also love to knit and crochet.