The Susan Skinner Memorial Fund (SSMF) endowment was established in 2007 by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) USA to support the training, education, and leadership development of young women with bleeding disorders. Salima Hadjammar was the 2010 SSMF Scholarship recipient. We asked her a few questions about how the scholarship has made a difference in her life.
Why did you apply to the SSMF?
At first, it was a suggestion from the president of our national patient organization (a national member organizations (NMO) of the WFH). When I read about the SSMF, I was impressed by the lifelong dedication of Susan Skinner to improve the life and treatment of people with a bleeding disorder. It was very inspiring and I thought that participating in the WFH World Congress—and meeting people from all over the world with the same purpose as me—would give me the courage and confidence I needed to face the many challenges I have as someone with VWD.
Why do you feel it’s important that this scholarship be awarded to a woman?
When I say to someone, “I have a bleeding disorder,” the answer is often, “Oh, you are hemophiliac!!? I thought it was a boy’s illness!” After that I have to explain everything. The truth is that women are often forgotten when it comes to bleeding disorders—even if sometimes we suffer so much more because of menstruation and pregnancy. I think that the fact that this scholarship is only for women is a good reminder that we are as concerned as men. It allows us to express ourselves and to be heard.
How did receiving the scholarship impact your involvement in the bleeding disorders community?
By learning about healthcare and research around the world I realized how much there is to do and how hard we have to work to accomplish change. But I also realized that change was possible, and that no challenge was insurmountable given the huge improvements made in the last 20 years. Therefore, it was a big motivation for me as a member of the community and in my personal life and job.
What was the most important thing you learned from your participation in the WFH World Congress?
It gave me a big shot of self-confidence! At the time, I was very young. Being recognized by so many great people… chatting with them and learning from them was a mind opening experience.
If you had a single sentence of advice to give the next recipient of the SSMF, what would you say?
Never give up! Ever, ever, ever…
Are you still involved in a bleeding disorder organization and if so, what is your role?
Yes. I recently became a member of a hemophilia organization in the Alsace region in France. I moved from Algiers to Strasbourg in Alsace last September in order to pursue a two-year Master’s degree in quality assurance for health products. I contacted the regional hemophilia organization when I moved and they were very helpful, so I naturally joined the new bureau following their 2017 General Meeting.
To find out more about the Susan Skinner Memorial Fund Scholarship (SSMF), Salima Hadjammar, and the many other SSMF scholarship recipients, please click here.