Leila El Ali
Executive Director of Najdeh Association
Social work is inseparable from the political activity for Leila, who comes from a militant family and whose militant personality began to form with the rise of the national tide in Lebanon in the early seventies, and then further evolved during her university years, which coincided with the restrictions on Palestinian presence after the invasion and departure of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and during which she became a student activist and later president of the Youth Union of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She then went to work for the Najdeh Association, which is active in Palestinian camps in the areas of relief, vocational training and women's empowerment. Leila lived most of her life in the Shatila camp, which she remembers as open to its Lebanese surroundings, and a home for activists from all over the world, and she is saddened by the marginalization and isolation that the camp goes through nowadays. In her work with Najdeh, she insists that the diverse assistance should be given to Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and everyone who needs it because she believes that the distinction between those in need is immoral. Leila is also one of the right-to-work campaign founders that calls for Palestinians to be fully granted this right in Lebanon.
Few hours before the 1982 massacre in Shatila Camp, Leila miraculously went out with her family, and came back after the slaughter to see dead bodies scattered on the ground, including the bodies of Lebanese neighbors. But despite this traumatic experience and others over the years, she decided to remain an active woman and stay always optimistic that some justice can be achived in this world.