Shahida Azeem, my mentor and friend.

Life President Ms. Shahida Azeem

Owner of Mashal – a school for underprivileged children. 

Isn’t God Great? I mean, I’ve found this in life, whenever you are deeply sad, there are many  pleasant things  happening  too. It is God, trying to cheer you up. He is telling you, ‘things aren’t so bad after all. You can make it. You are strong. This is a great world I’ve made for you.’ In Surah Al Nashra, He says, ‘with every hardship there is ease.’ There certainly is. For instance, I felt so happy that I’ve known such a great personality all these years. Even now, I’m blessed with having her in my neighborhood.

So, just remember that where sad things do happen but so do the happy ones. We both have deep love for each other, and I have great regard also. It is a kinship. It is finding ways to live in a world without one’s husband in it. To make the best of life, anyway. She is an amazing person. Shahida Apa is the wife of General Azeem (late), who was the Ambassador of Pakistan in USA during the eighties.

 

 

 

I met her by chance while walking near the mountains. Seeing this petite person walking ahead of me just made me want to talk to her. I went over and wished her. She turned to me smiling, and that was our first meeting, about eight years ago.

I found out that she is owner of the well-known organization called Mashal. It is a school for poor children and also has facilities for the children’s mothers. There are classes going on here for cooking, computers, knitting, stitching and a beauticeans course too. There is also a clinic. The idea is to help women of Margalla Town area, living in outskirts of Islamabad. The plan is to make them financially independent.

Over a hundred children are seen here who come daily for studying. Now, the building is double storied thanks to donations of many philanthropists. Shahida Apa has many ladies in her organization who are extremely devoted and generous. They give their time and commitment to monthly meetings, and hold  different events to raise funds in Gosha-e-Mashal.

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That lovely evening when we met for the first time, she invited me to her school. That was the beginning of our long relationship. At first I became a regular member of Mashal. Then when my husband passed away, I was more of a silent member. I continued to join in whenever I could, but most of the time I was rather busy. I’d of course try to contribute as much as I could. Though the contribution wouldn’t be as much I’d like it to be, she was highly appreciative and always valued my humble contributions. It was the same if one donated books for their wonderful school library or any other item for the building.

Now, the latest scheme is to sponsor a child, and you can do so by following up on the education of the girl you are sponsoring. You can even go and visit her and communicate with her if you want. It is a wonderful feeling to know, that you are making a difference in someone’s life.

Shahida Azeem is a wonderful writer who wrote about her experiences as the Ambassadors’ wife in USA, as well as a General’s wife.

27545208_1834928999873717_2819743136464453652_n.jpg She remembers her husband often and always distributes food to the school children every year on his anniversary.

Her brilliant command over both the languages of Urdu and English make her an exceptional person. Her repertoire of Urdu poetry is amazing. She has a verse to narrate on almost every occasion in life. Whenever, she comes over, I ask her to recite some verses from her favorite poems. She happily does so.

Actually, when my husband passed away, she was the only one who openly asked me to stay in my own house. (Everyone else was trying to force me to move over to my parents’ home, rather than stay alone in my house!) She herself was doing so, and advised me to do the same. She thinks outside the box. She is not one to be upset by circumstances or any type of ‘hurdles’. I’ve always found her full of energy and ready to go out to do something new and useful for the children of her school.

I’ve met the children too. So well-mannered and well-behaved. Those children who go into colleges, she even arranges scholarships for them. I mean she is just amazing.

Very often I have tasty dishes arriving from her home. She also often invites me over. I have a terrible habit of having functions at my home, at the drop of a hat. Then, I feel bad inviting her at such a short notice. Yet she has never minded it. She has happily said, ‘an invitation from you is enough for me, I’ll come within minutes. I don’t mind!’ By the way, she would do the same. Our friendship tickles her daughters and mine. Of course, my daughters are used to me being friends with persons of every age and background so they aren’t that surprised. But for Shahida Apa I have a very special place in my heart. Her daughters are actually older than me, as they were senior to me in my college. However, my friendship is with their mother.

Shahida Apa and I’d spend hours going into peels of laughter over some silly thing, or interesting topic of conversation. We discuss anything which is lately on our minds, and she blesses me with her wit, humor and wisdom –  all rolled into one!

I’ve been wanting to write about Mashal for a long time. Always felt unsatisfied with my ‘homework’ not satisfied with my pictures either. Now, I’ve had to get these from the internet Google to be exact. I’m not satisfied with these either. Her beaming smile is missing here, and her charm and beautiful complexion. She is really lovely.

Here I sit today, after seeing her in AFIC yesterday, for the first time not in a conscious state.

My heart just melted. I’m feeling so sad and praying hard for her life and complete recovery. She is a gem of a person, with a heart of gold. My heart cries out and I hope you all join me in praying for her. I want her to be up and about soon, and only my Allah can make this happen. She has one of the best doctors to tend to her. General Sohail Aziz has also been my doctor, so I know he is truly a good heart specialist. Allah Mian also knows she is one of the best humans living today.

My Allah is used to me crying to Him for one person or the other. I remember, how last year, my father was very ill in hospital, when the doctors had given up totally. Through the night my daughter and I sat in the ICU and prayed. My Allah gave my father complete recovery. Alhamdolillah.

My Allah Mian also gave complete recovery to my other mentor Mahjabeen, whom I also love and cherish. Believe me, I have more mentors too, whom I hold in great regard. They are my friends, and my mentors all rolled into one. That is why I always say I’m so blessed. Alhamdolillah. There is Dr. Feroza Ahmad, and Abbas Husain. All of them are my angels in disguise. (Yes, I have more angels too…!)

I really don’t know where I’d be today, but for my priceless mentors. They have been a source of great strength.

Please join me in praying for this angel in disguise. Stay blessed my dear Reader. Do have mentors, and stay connected to them.

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