Lisa Wahba outlines the relevance of American Women’s Association (AWA) 39 years after its launch and she explores the challenges ahead.
As one of the most vibrant women’s organisations on the island, the AWA has distinguished itself in the realm of charitable acts. This year, it will give away BD30,000 in scholarships and donations to social welfare organisations and charities.
Contrary to popular perception, the association is a culturally diverse club with members from over 40 nationalities, says Lisa Wahba, who was elected president this April. With a degree in marketing and background in social work, this mother-of-three from Philadelphia is well equipped to steer the association to its 40th year.
Woman This Month (WTM): What does it mean to be 39?
Lisa Wahba (LW): It’s very thrilling to be part of such an old organisation. Back in 1974, seven women got together with three goals
in mind: charity, friendship and cultivating understanding. I believe these objectives have become even more relevant with time.
WTM: What privileges do the members of AWA enjoy?
LW: Members can participate in many different clubs and groups with the association, depending on their interests. There’s the book club, the cooking club, the quilt group and the art and craft groups.
Under our Women of Taste initiative, AWA members get access to the kitchens of some of Bahrain’s best restaurants, where they learn recipes from experienced chefs.
Members can explore the back trails of Bahrain with tours conducted by Hala Jamal. They can even learn the Bollywood style of dancing with Vidhi Sharma.
WTM: Are there any interesting projects that you’ve undertaken in recent times?
LW: We’ve just completed the incredibly rewarding Bahrain Unity Quilt, which was funded by a grant from the Ministry of Social Development. We invited communities to contribute a 25 square inch of cloth for making this unity quilt. What materialised was a beautiful patchwork of 90 squares, representing all sections of the Bahraini and expatriate community.
WTM: What kind of challenges do you face?
LW: Living on an island with a transient expatriate population, my biggest success and challenge will be to enlist new talent and get them actively involved with the AWA. To contribute as members, women need not chair any committee. Mostly, we need volunteers who will give their time generously.
WTM: As AWA president, what would you like to accomplish?
LW: I feel strongly about empowering women. Others perceive qualities in us that we ourselves aren’t aware of. Tosin Arowojolu must have seen that in me as a new member back in 2011, when she proposed my name for vice president. As women, we often doubt ourselves. When we try new things and find our true selves, we can exceed expectations.