Spotlight on Palestinian woman honored by White House

Nahla al-Kayali left school at 16, but was honored by the White House as a leader of change

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Nahla al-Kayali, a California-based Palestinian-American civil worker, was honored by the White House as a leader of change earlier this week.

The activist was the only Arab among the ten recipients of the prestigious White House award.

Despite dropping out of school at the age of 16, Kayali served America’s Arab and Muslim communities since 1976, and has since become a pioneer in civil and social services.

"It honestly comes down to the work we do in California and our engagement in social volunteer work in the United States representing our Arab and Muslim community," Kayali told Al Arabiya News Channel.

Besides her social work at Access California Services (AccessCal), Kayali was commissioned by a former California governor to serve on a special committee and also serves as the Chairperson to the Refugee Forum of Orange County.

Kayali's volunteer work at ACCESS included securing health insurance to low-income families, offering English language classes for foreign migrants and issuing food ration cards to women and children.

"I'm proud to be one of the ten people honored today by the White House. It will bring me pride until the end of my life to receive such an award. Today I would like to present my award to the Arab and Muslim community," she said.

Kayali said she was surprised when the White House informed her about the award, but confirmed that her work will not end as she continues to be an active civil leader working for a "better future."

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