By: Hillary LeBlanc , September 20 2022
Zaheera Mohammed is a stylist, blogger and mom of three kids (19, 17 and 8 years old). At the young age of 36, she has been a wife for twenty years. Mohammed is also an activist for women particularly in collaboration with Nisa Homes, a non-profit organization providing a safe space helping immigrant women who are fleeing from domestic violent situations.
Mohammed moved to Canada 20 years ago in 2002, living as a stay at home mom and homemaker. Mohammed didn’t want to lose her own sense of identity and self, so she started putting effort into her fashion sense, “I didn’t want to lose myself with the everyday motherhood duties, being a wife and all the other responsibilities of the household. I started focusing on the things that I was once passionate about before I became a mother, like fashion. When I was younger I had a love for fashion so I decided to post outfit ideas and look books of modest clothing on Facebook, which lead to Instagram. My audience started to grow and a lot of mother’s like myself started appreciating and supporting my posts for modest fashion particularly supporting the idea that you can still look fabulous being a mom/wife/homemaker. I began to realize that my hobby was inspiring others to realize that moms can also partake in things we are really passionate about.”
Mohammed shares that in the Muslim community modest fashion was super new and “not many people where posting modest fashion in the early 2000’s” so she took it upon herself to push modest fashion into an industry that was only open to one type of fashion. This allowed her to grow organically and work with so many well-known brands. Mohammed says that she is grateful she could do so much being a minority, “I’m now a stylist and travel blogger and I can’t wait to see where this new journey takes me!”
For the past two years Mohammed has been supporting a non-profit organization called Nisa Homes. Yasmine Youssef, Nisa Homes Program Director tells us that “Nisa Homes is a group of transitional homes for women and children fleeing domestic violence, homelessness or seeking refuge in Canada.” Most of the women who come to Nisa Homes are immigrants, refugees or without status unfortunately. According to Youssef, survivors are given a place to stay in one of the 8 locations across Canada (Mississauga, Scarborough, Ottawa, Montreal, Windsor, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, with 2 new locations opening in 2022 in Halifax and Hamilton) where they are provided with not just a safe shelter but also with security and basic necessities (food, medicine, clothing etc). Women also receive case management, counselling, referrals and community connections, follow ups after moving out, a children’s program, financial assistance, and workshops intended to enhance life skills and training on topics such as budgeting, English language classes, employment and computer classes. Since opening in 2015, Nisa Homes has sheltered more than 1,100 women and children and have assisted an additional 6,000 women & children remotely and through referrals. These women come from away for better lives and need Nisa Homes to be able to get out of their terribly abusive situations.
For these women leaving horrifying situations, they often still face immense barriers in Canada which Nisa Homes tries to mitigate. Youssef says, “even for those who haven’t fled war, many of the countries they are migrating from have been ravaged by colonialism, poverty, and corruption. Many are finally given the opportunity at a stable life, whether they are coming with their family or they are coming to Canada sponsored by a partner.” Many come to Canada with so much hope only to realize the barriers are immense when simply resettling in a new country, the language barriers, lack of recognition of their credentials, culture shock, lack of knowledge of their services, rights or responsibilities, lack of family support or community, fear of the unknown, stigma, lack of awareness of services and resources available, racism, anti-Asian sentiments and Islamophobia, and financial challenges (lack of affordable housing, childcare, low rates of welfare/disability support or minimum wage etc). Youssef adds, “even upon coming to Canada, it is not simply that easy to leave, up until recently, survivors of abuse couldn’t leave partners who sponsored them, but even then, there are misinformed beliefs or abusers tricking survivors to believe they will get deported or have their children taken away.”
When asked what’s next, Mohammed says, “Whatever comes my way I’m happy to grasp to the task. I have learned that if you don’t give it your all and believe in yourself and know what you are capable of doing you wouldn’t give it a try, so take a step back to find your passion or interests and go for it because you are capable of so much more!”
Published: September 20 2022 | Author: Hillary LeBlanc | Tagged: None