Young women gather to motivate

Qudsiyyah May, 17, from Morgens Village, Tahseenah Hassiem, 15, from Lentegeur, Zeenat Naicker, 21, and sister Ishra Naicker, 16, from Westridge, blow up balloons with motivational messages inside.

Young Muslim women donned their best scarves and spent an afternoon of motivating and inspiring each other to find the strength within themselves, at a Women’s Day event with a difference.

The young women are members of AMR (Al-Masjidur Rawbie) Youth, a group of teenagers and young adults striving to empower, develop and up-skill future leaders to ensure a better tomorrow.

They hosted the Women’s Day programme at the Portland mosque’s hall, in Merrydale Avenue on Thursday August 9.

Themed “Strength with our youth”, the programme was specifically aimed at young women aged between 13 and 25 who were given a safe space to be educated and empowered to get to know themselves and each other.

Guest speaker Sadia Daniels, 52, from Westgate, who has Stargardt macular dystrophy, a rare disease resulting in the degeneration of the eye, shared her experience of leaving school after completing Standard 8 (Grade 10) because she could not see what was written on the chalk board.

Ms Daniels, who now has 10% vision in each eye, completed her matric with a Bachelor’s pass last year and now is a motivational speaker.

She was only diagnosed at age 30 and said it was difficult to adjust. She also had two children to raise.

Ms Daniels was directed to League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) to learn to cope with her visual impairment and daily activities.

“I’ve had to learn to focus on the things that I have and not the things I don’t have.

“I have had to find the strength inside of me to focus on the positive things,” she said.

Ms Daniels said negative thoughts can grow and fester in one’s mind, and “swallow one whole”.

She discovered that by doing good to others, “good will come back to you”.

Ms Daniels wanted her speech to be interactive so she encouraged the youth to ask questions, which she tried to answer to help them on their journey.

Shameema Jaffer, 20, from Hanover Park, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in Grade 10, related to Ms Daniel’s story, fearing depression, memory loss and seizures ahead of her matric examinations.

She asked how one could accept daily challenges thrown at them and still be grateful.

Ms Daniels advised her to surround herself with good people who would uplift her and bring out the best in her.

“Go to places where people are perhaps worse off than you. This reminds me to be grateful. There is always someone worse off than you.

“You must have the support of your family and friends. Remember Allah and know that only He knows your strength,” she said.

Sadeekah Abrahams, one of the AMR Youth facilitators, encouraged the youth to recognise that the tools to change the world are within them.

“We say the world needs to change but we forget we are the world,” she said.

Aneeqa Davids-Damons, secretary of the youth group, said youth are faced with social ills and negativity but what they would like to create is love among the youth, where they can find guidance and advise among each other.

“We want to make a positive impact in our community, we want to share skills and collaborate with other groups to create leadership with self responsibility,” she said.

Muslim Hands, an international non-governmental organisation helping those affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty, sponsored the participants with shoes and toiletries.

AMR Youth meet at the mosque every Thursday after Ishah for thikr (prayer meetings).

For more information visit their Facebook page, follow them on Instagram @amr_youth or email them at Amryouth@gmail.com.