Posted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:10 am Post subject: INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
Muniba Mazari – The Dauntless Lady
Muniba Mazari is Pakistan’s first wheelchair bound motivational speaker, writer, painter, model, and television host. Nine years ago she had a terrible accident when she was traveling from Baluchistan to her hometown Rahim Yar khan. The accident happened because the other driver fell asleep while driving. As a result, the car she was driving went into the ditch and Muniba sustained multiple injuries. The radius ulna of her right arm, right shoulder and collar bone were fractured. Her lungs and liver were badly injured and her whole rib cage was fractured. But the injury that changed her life and her personality was the spinal cord injury. Three vertebra of her back were completely crushed.
Medical Treatment of Muniba Mazari
Unfortunately people could not find an ambulance so she was thrown into the back of a jeep and she was rushed to the nearby hospital where they learned that there was no first aid available. Then she was rushed to another hospital in her hometown where the doctors said “we cannot operate on her we don’t have the equipment she will die someday”. Finally she ended up in a comparatively much better hospital in Karachi where she stayed for two and a half months. She underwent three major and two minor surgeries. The doctors had to put a lot of metal in her arm and a lot of metal in her back so she is more like an iron lady now. Those two and a half months that she spent in the hospital were dreadful; she was in severe pain both physically and psychologically. Many people that were very close to her left her side. The ones who were supposed to stay with her were the ones who left her when she needed them the most. Her life was completely pointless, aimless and colorless.
Despair Changed to Hope
She was tired of wearing white scrubs looking at the white walls doing nothing but sitting idle. Muniba really did not want to live then she realized that instead of crying for the people who were not meant to be with her and for the legs which she has lost the use of, she has the people around her who want to see her alive. She stopped whining because it was pointless. According to Muniba, the best decision she made in her entire life was the painting she made in the hospital with a deformed hand. That’s how she added color to her colorless life, that’s how this adversity helped her in exploring the artist in herself that’s how this art kept her alive through this whole ordeal.
Then she was moved to Islamabad where she stayed in her room confined to her bed
for two years because she developed multiple ulcers from the extreme pressure she was feeling as well as a variety of infections and allergies. During this whole traumatic journey of two years and two and a half month being bed ridden, doing nothing; the only thing that kept her alive was the art.
“I could not find a hero, so I became one” Muniba Mazari
When Muniba sat on the wheelchair for the first time she decided that “she cannot wait for the miracle to come and make her walk, she cannot wait and sit in the corner of the room crying and begging for mercy because people don’t have time for her. So the only thing that she could do was to accept her as she was because she knew that the sooner she realized this the better off she would be”. And that’s exactly what she did!
She really wanted to make herself financially strong. She started find some jobs; the first job which she took was as a content writer for Pakistan’s first official website heartofasia.pk. The late Salman Taseer was the CEO. That’s how she started her professional career. In the meantime she was constantly exhibiting her paintings in different galleries. She was flourishing as an artist. But she was still not content because she was constantly aiming high, thinking big for the people in the country.
One day she came across an advertisement of a polio campaign in which a very little boy from a very privileged family was sitting in a wheelchair and with his father sitting with him and crying to the world in that campaign “give polio drops to your children, otherwise they will become like him”. That advertisement really shook her from the inside and she felt devastated; the way the boy was representative as an emblem of grief, misery, mercy, lifelessness and nothingness. That day she decided that she had to change the perception of the people, about being in a wheelchair; you can still face the world with a big smile and you can tell the world that you are happy, just the way you are!
She did modelling for TONY&GUY and that’s what makes her Pakistan’s first wheelchair bound model. She is the brand ambassador of a body shop in Pakistan and she is one of Pond’s miracle women. Currently she is a goodwill ambassador for women at the UN.
Muniba Mazari thinks that the wheelchair has given her the opportunity to explore what she had inside her but she never knew it. Muniba Mazari still has big dreams and big plans. She believes that “be grateful for what you have and trust that you will always end up with having more and never cry for the little things that you will never, ever have. Put your energy where you want to excel, you want to grow, you want to be powerful, passionate and a great professional. Learn the art of converting your adversities into opportunities. The moment you learn and understand this; the sky is the limit. So be grateful, be happy, be alive and don’t let anyone disrespect your abilities”.
ALLAH gave Muniba a second chance to prove herself, to flourish, to tell the world that it takes courage and determination to face the harsh realities of life – ANY LIFE! She is the living example for us. Despite her disability she is still motivated and trying to make the world into a better place. It’s a herculean task to raise a 3 year old child, doing two to three jobs, keeping your passion alive and striving to make a better future.
I personally salute Muniba Mazari for her tireless efforts, her thinking-big optimistic approach and most importantly the lesson she taught to the world that “only losers find excuses not winners”.
Metro: David Oyelowo found inspiration in young actors of the Queen of Katwe
By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada
Imagine seeing a movie in a theatre for the first time. Now imagine the first movie you see on the big screen is the story of your life. That’s what happened to Phiona Mutesi.
“I’ve never been in a theatre,” she said at the Toronto International Film Festival the night after Queen of Katwe premiered in front of a sold out crowd of twenty-six hundred people. “This has been my first time.”
Based on the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster the movie tells the tale of how Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), an illiterate girl from a very poor family in Kampala, Uganda, learns to play chess and with the help of mentor Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) moves from local tournaments to the World Chess Olympiad.
“We have had video shacks for the longest time,” says director Mira Nair, a Uganda resident of almost three decades, “but until five years ago we didn’t have theatres in malls. The price of a ticket is almost ten dollars which prices it out of everyone’s reach. It is true that a kid like Phiona would not choose to spend that kind of money to go to the theatre. She’d see a pirated DVD in a shack somewhere.”
The Disney movie was shot on the streets of Kampala and features over 100 local actors, many of whom, Nair points out, had never seen a camera before.
“I actually took a bunch of the kids to see Jurassic World while we were doing the film,” says star David Oyelowo, “and Madina [Nalwanga] who plays Phiona was sat next to me and was clutching me the whole time, terrified by the movie. She turned to me and said, ‘Is this what we are doing?’ I asked her if she had ever seen a film before and she said no. We were halfway through shooting a film in which she is playing the lead.”
Oyelowo, a Golden Globe nominee for his work playing Martin Luther King in Selma, says working with the young, inexperienced actors was a “was a wonderful thing for the film.”
“Because the kids in this film were not necessarily connecting what we were doing in shooting the film with what they had seen before, because they hadn’t seen a movie in a movie theatre before, it meant there was something really unaffected, something really free, something genuine about their performances. I found I was getting a refresher course in how to be truthful in front of a camera. Inevitably after you have done a few movies you start adopting a house style. You start knowing too much in a sense. Even though it is kind of a mind-blowing thing that they haven’t seen a movie, because we in the west take it very much for granted, it actually lends a very specific quality to the film itself.”
Nair, whose Ugandan film school Maisha Film Lab is taking a thousand school kids to the theatres to see the movie, says Queen of Katwe is “really a portrait of ourselves. It’s going to make a sea change in terms of people realizing that we matter, that our stories can put bums on seats.”
My Mum’s Pick! A Must Read Story About a Former Child Soldier Transformed by Education
REMINISCENCES OF A FORMER CHILD SOLDIER
“My biggest fear was children, high on drugs, wielding AK-47 rifles…The war stole my childhood and left me orphaned and homeless. In Sierra Leone, children barely old enough to tie their own shoelaces committed most of the atrocities. I was one of those children. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge, and I mastered the “skill” of spraying a wall with lead before I could write 1, 2, and 3.”
What One Jamat really means. The Generosity of Spiritual Brothers and Sisters
Ya Ali Madad,
With the auspicious occasion of Diamond Jubilee upon us, it is important for us to reflect on and connect with the world-wide Jamat. Our connections with each other can be particularly seen in Jamat Khane where Ismailis from different backgrounds, races, and cultures come together and are united by our religion–by our love and devotion to the present living Imam. This is why it is important for us to reflect on what One Jamat really means.
Mahshid's StoryI come from a small village in Iran where the Ismailis in the area were a majority, but have now become a minority, however, that never stopped me or my family from practicing and living as Ismailis. Our walks to Jamat Khane were longer, but that just made our bond and faith stronger. My older sister Mahshid and I, would walk to Jamat Khane, which was about a 30-minute walk one way. I remember this walk fondly since I enjoyed being with my sister and walking with her to my favorite place.
My sister Mahshid has not had an easy life. When she was 14 years old, my sister was sitting too close to the oil heater and her clothes caught on fire. Our oldest sister Fereshteh, reached for the closest bowl of water to throw on her to put out the flames, which turned out to be hot water. The aftermath of this incident was only the beginning of my sister’s health problems. At 17 years old, my sister Mahshid was diagnosed with a heart problem. Four of her valves in her heart were closed and she had to undergo two surgeries’ in Tehran. These surgeries reopened her valves, in order to help with her severe medical condition. Mahshid was admitted to the hospital on and off repeatedly for the following years of her life, until 1987 when Mahshid was admitted to the hospital because of her heart. The doctors took one long and deep look at her and her medical record and immediately rejected her as a patient. They told my parents that they could not do anything else for her, and they advised my parents not to spend another dollar on their daughter because they did not expect her to live much longer. Because of the revolution, the Iranian hospitals did not have the medical advancements or technologies to support and help my sister, but this did not stop my parents from having faith. At the time, I was in Karachi Pakistan studying Nursing at the Aga Khan University. My mother called me and told me that she would be sending Mahshid to me, and asked me to do anything I could to help her, and to see if there was anyone in the Jamat that could also help her. This is when my search for help began.
Mahshid's StoryIn September 1988, my sister and I walked to the Karachi Jamat Khane in hopes of solidifying our faith again, and were provided with a miracle to save my sister’s life. I went to Vazeer Akbar Ali Karamali’s office and asked him for help for my sister. Vazeer Akbar Ali would always help the Iranian Ismailis in Pakistan for various things, anytime I would come to the State Office and he would see me, and never forget to open the door for me. I told him about my sister and he gave me Dr. Nouraddin Allahdini’s number in Canada and allowed me to use the office phone for any calls to Canada, anytime I needed. He told me to call Dr. Allahdini to find a medical doctor sponsor in Canada to help my sister. Dr. Allahdini found a group of Ismaili doctors and nurses that eventually sponsored Mahshid. Dr. Vadiwallah, from Toronto, wrote a medical invitation letter for my sister to come to Canada for open heart surgery. We were directed to a heart doctor in Pakistan, Dr. Lakhani who created a medical checkup for her, for free. In Pakistan, my sister and I were staying with Dr. Mir Baiz Khan and his lovely wife Yasmeen. We were the closest to a Jamat Khane than we had ever been, and we went every day. Going to Jamat Khane reaffirmed our love for Hazir Imam and our hope in my sister’s struggle. My sister obtained a medical visa to Canada in a month. Seven other Ismaili doctors, pharmacists, lab technicians and nurses had created a team to help a village Iranian Ismaili girl, that they didn’t even know. They flew Mahshid to Toronto, Ontario, in preparation for her 9-hour open heart surgery. Dr. Moez Valji was her radiologist and took Mahshid into his home, where his wife Yasmin Valji took care of Mahshid for two weeks. There was a nurse named Parveen, who volunteered to be Mahshid’s nurse and helped care for her and even went with her to Sudbury where Mahshid’s surgery would take place. It was also in Sudbury, where Parveen would meet her husband because of Mahshid. Dr. Alnoor Abdullah was one of the surgeons and held a dinner at his home for Mahshid and the rest of the Ismailis involved after Mahshid’s recovery from surgery. He thanked everyone involved and presented each medical professional with a bouquet of flowers, as everyone had volunteered their time and worked for free. The expenses of her surgery, hospital visits, medication, flights, and care became more than 3000 dollars and my sister, fortunately, was not charged a single penny. All these Ismaili brothers and sisters came together and paid for this surgery to happen. They donated their time and knowledge into saving my sister’s life. They gave my sister 30 more years to live.
I would like to thank these Ismaili brothers and sisters who helped my sister in any way that they could, on behalf of my whole family. I would like to thank the team, the Iranian Ismaili Jamat, and the Canadian Ismaili Jamat because this team represented what it really means to be One Jamat, what it means to be spiritual brothers and sisters. This title of One Jamat is something we should be extremely proud of and work every day to reflect. I do not know all the names of the nurses and doctors involved, however, I know they worked tirelessly and endlessly for my sister and my family will always be extremely grateful. After 30 more years of life, my sister passed away on July 5th, 2017, at the age of 57. My sisters story is one of many, where Ismailis have come together to help each other and really demonstrate the meaning of One Jamat. I pray that I am always able to help any of my spiritual brothers and sisters within the Jamat, any way that I can. Anyone who reads this story, and who knows Mahshid or knows anyone from the team who helped my sister in anyway, please email me, as I would love to thank each individual again personally.
When there’s a will there’s a way – Nayab Hajimohamed
Meet Nayab Hajimohamed 14 year old from Raleigh North Carolina, USA. This is her story in her own words about her experience and motivation behind why she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro located in Africa. She achieved her goal in July of 2017.
When there's a will there's a way - Nayab Hajimohamed“At family gatherings I always heard my dad talk about his experiences climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. It was then that I realized that if I ever got an opportunity to visit my family roots back in Tanzania, I would make a detour to go climb the “Roof of Africa.” Early last year my family finally decided to plan a trip back to Tanzania, for them they were returning home after 17 yrs and for me, I was finally going to see where my family comes from. I was overfilled with joy when my dad discussed the option of including Kilimanjaro in our trip itinerary. I started training right away and I trained hard. I didn’t just wanted to attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, I wanted to be successful in my first attempt!
As the trip dates got closer, the excitement grew, but doubts started to creep in. Will I be able to make it? What happens if I don’t? Will my father still be proud of me? My dad told me not to worry and that no matter what happens, even attempting Kilimanjaro is a great achievement. The other incentive that My dad and I discussed was wishing the global jamat Diamond Jubilee Mubarak from Uhuru Peak! This was further motivation to continue to train harder for success.
The mantra on the mountain as you climb is “pole pole.” Which means “slowly slowly.” That is exactly what I did. Pole pole I walked with my family through the different terrains of the mountain. The second to last day I was tired, cold, dirty, and ready to go back down to the warmth. But pole pole I woke up, got dressed and mentally prepared myself for the climb to the summit. With the help of my guide, Eliah, who never left my side, who wiped my runny nose and who helped me stay hydrated, I made it to Uhuru peak on July 24th at 9:25am and my most memorable moment was when I wished Diamond Jubilee Mubarak to the global jamat.”
Can we Ismailis contribute a small drop in the ocean of our Imam’s endeavours for positive growth? Read the story of Samir Firasta who saved the life of a stranger during his morning walk; about how this Ismaili’s presence of mind gave a new life to a renowned architect.
In an interview with Henri Weill, Editor-in-Chief of the French magazine La Cohorte, Mawlana Hazar Imam quoted, “We are indeed trying to get involved wherever we can play a positive role, and not just for Ismailis.”
There is a world of meaning in this sentence. Our Imam and his institutions work not only for the Ismaili community but also for humanity at large. Therefore, can we Ismailis contribute a small drop in the ocean of our Imam’s endeavours for positive growth?
These words of Hazar Imam directly connect with the recent incident in Mumbai, where Mr. Samir Firasta saved the life of a renowned architect. During his morning walk, the Bandra resident noticed a man lying on the ground. Whether other walkers did not notice him or just did not care, we do not know. But we do know that this Ismaili, seeing that he was not breathing, immediately started giving him cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to revive the heartbeat.
Mr. Firasta had the presence of mind to instruct a bystander to fetch an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the Otters Club nearby. AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and pulse-less ventricular tachycardia, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electricity which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm.
Within minutes the machine reached the spot of the incident and Mr. Firasta gave the patient the first shock. It failed to revive him! He decided to give a second one, but under apprehension. And this turned out to be successful; the patient’s heart started a feeble beat. Soon the patient was transported to the nearby Holy Family Hospital and was reported ‘out of danger.’
This incident makes us proud of being an Ismaili. The ‘tone at the top’ cascades down to the very grass root level. The Quran says “.... and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.....” (Surah Al-Maidah: 32). This is exactly what Mr. Farista has done.
This act of Mr.Firasta was not highlighted on big hoardings nor was it elaborately publicized. It was simply an act of humanity which did not bring him any material fame but did bring him content to have saved a person’s life. Here we remember the words of Hazar Imam in the same interview, “There is no reason for me to be in the news. When there are problems I try to solve them discreetly. I don’t always manage, but in general, discretion has served me well.”
There are no doubt hundreds of Ismailis like our Mr. Firasta, who help people in their everyday lives. This spirit of pluralism comes from our understanding of Hazar Imam’s guidance through his farmans and speeches. These not only make us better Ismailis, but positive human beings as well.
How an unemployed mother is feeding Dubai's jobless migrants
The pandemic has hit the United Arab Emirates' immigrant communities hard. Feby Dela Peña, Filipina mother of three, is using her cooking skills to keep families fed through the crisis. When people heard what she was doing, they pitched in to help, too.
June 11, 2020
By Aya Batrawy Associated Press
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Feby Dela Peña saw her fellow Filipinos standing in line outside her building in Dubai, waiting for free food. And she was stricken – what if her family, too, had lost their income amid the COVID-19 outbreak? How would she have fed her three children?
Ms. Dela Peña is unemployed. “We’re poor, to be honest,” she said. “But it’s not a reason for me not to help, you know?”
So the next day, she pulled out the money that was supposed to feed her family of five for a month. When their 11 housemates got wind of her plan – like most migrant workers in Dubai, the family lives in a shared apartment – those who could chipped in as well.
She was able to buy about 500 dirhams, or $136, worth of groceries, including 30 frozen chickens and sacks of rice. And she began to cook.
That is how Ms. Dela Peña launched the project she calls Ayuda – help, in Filipino, a language heavily influenced by Spanish colonial rule. Each day, she offers 200 free meals to the hungry of Dubai, all of them foreigners, like her own family.
Migrants account for 90% of the workforce in the United Arab Emirates. The economic shutdown that came with COVID-19 has hit their communities hard.
Despite promises by the Philippine government to help overseas workers with a one-time cash assistance, and despite a nationwide “10 million meals” initiative by the government of the United Arab Emirates to feed the poor, many are struggling to secure their next meal.
“Life is so hard and they don’t have anyone to depend on,” said Ms. Dela Peña.
Ms. Dela Peña’s a confident cook who used to sell homemade meals to friends as a way to earn extra money. She said she also has a license in food safety.
But cooking 200 meals a day is a massive undertaking, especially with three children, including a toddler and a baby, at home.
The finances are dicey; Ms. Dela Peña relies on her husband’s modest income from a sales job. But when word of her efforts spread on social media, people began reaching out, dropping off cartons of eggs and bags of rice. An influential Emirati blogger gave her $2,700.
She leans on her housemates, husband, and her brother-in-law, who was let go from his job in a tea shop amid the pandemic, to help with buying the groceries, thawing the meats, chopping the food, and cooking. Ultimately, though, she’s in charge.
“It’s a big thing if you can help like 10 people not to sleep hungry,” she said, as she scooped up cooked rice, fried fish, and boiled eggs into containers to distribute.
Her children’s wagon is used to deliver the meals each day. It is 3 p.m., and sweltering. A sign on a cardboard box announces: “FREE!!! FOOD FOR EVERYONE.”
Some people walk 45 minutes for one of Ms. Dela Peña’s meals. While most hail from the Philippines, there are also Africans, South Asians, and others.
Six Filipino women, who come every day, said they haven’t worked or been paid since March when they lost their sales jobs. One of the women, Emma Moraga, said she heard about the meals on social media.
“It’s good, because they can help a lot of people,” Ms. Moraga said. “One meal a day, it’s big help.”
The crowd lines up. “Social distancing!” Ms. Dela Peña says, repeatedly. Mostly, though, people are standing apart and everyone is wearing masks, as is required by law.
She’s nervous that authorities in Dubai could stop or fine her for violating laws on public gatherings or the distribution of food. But she intends to feed Dubai’s hungry as long as she can.
“If I will stop this,” Ms. Dela Peña said, “many people will stop eating.”
Immaculée Ilibagiza, Rwandan genocide survivor, on fighting evil with love
Immaculée Ilibagiza's seemingly serene native town of Kibuye, Rwanda, became a site of mass murder during 100 days of genocide in 1994, led by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi minority tribe. Ilibagiza hid in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for three months, even as neighbors-turned-killers searched the house. When she emerged, her entire family, except for a brother in another country, had been killed. Ilibagiza has spent decades working for reconciliation in her country and around the world and testifying to the power of God's presence even in the worst of situations.
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