Image: Azra Javed
On September the 6th 2018 we announced a bursary open to women of colour, it was a learning accelerator by Enrol Yourself with Amaliah. We have teamed up AGAIN for 2019 with Enrol yourself for their 2019 cohort to offer a bursary place.
Applicants came and inquiries dropped, amongst all the applicants was Azra, she’d been a stay at home mother to five children and a carer for her sister. Struggling to find a local school place for her youngest son led Azra to look for opportunities further afield. The lengthy commute involved subsequently led her to found a small school transport business in 2017. She shares with us her journey to and on the course.
The course challenged her hugely and through it, she grew and made new friends. Her confidence and hope for her own goals have also hugely grown.
Early bird application deadline 9 am February 15th (10% fee reduction)
Application deadline 9 am March 1st
How did you find out about the programme?
Azra: Your sister. I’d spoken to your sister a little while ago about what I was planning on doing, and the little insecurities that I had. So obviously, I think she had me in her head, and this course must have come up, and she must have remembered me, and then she told my daughter Undeleeb “Why doesn’t your mum apply for this course?”
Why did you apply?
Azra: Well, Selina to be honest with you, I’ve never ever done a course like this in my life, and I asked Undeleeb what it was about, and I had no idea what it was gonna be about, but I thought, you know what, it’s a course, and it’s gonna help me with my business, and then I thought, you know what, let’s give it a try. So, I did.
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London early birds, you have exactly 1 week to get your applications in. All details on our website. You can send questions to @davideheinemann as he'll be your spirit guide! Plant yourself and your ideas amongst your peers 🌿 . #lifelonglearning #futureself #LearningMarathon #london #peergroup #peertopeer #earlybird #applynow #spiritguide
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Selina: So you just went for it really?
Azra: I basically just went for it, yeah
What areas of yourself were you able to develop?
Azra: Well, I’m still being developed – I’m still not completely there, Alhamdulillah.
But thing is that you know, I have literally been in my four walls – like my children, my four walls, my washing up, and my TV, and bringing my children up. I have never ever done anything like this before, so whatever I thought in my head was simply like a school thing, like you know, going to school, like when I did a diploma course, I thought it was gonna be like that, but it was completely different to what I’d actually anticipated.
So, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, when I first to the lesson, to the class, seeing these young friends there, completely from a different world from me, I actually did get quite emotional with David.
Azra: I did say to David, I’m out of my depth. I really feel like not doing this. David had some kind of, I don’t know, he’s a facilitator so he knows, you know, and he said, “hang in there.” And I said you do understand that anything you guys are talking about, it’s going over my head.
So, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, I did stay, and I’m still, to be honest, Selina, this is my first weekend that I’d actually put my hand up to do a presentation for the first time.
Azra: So, you know, I’m still trying to get the confidence and stuff, but I said to David in the class, now I actually know what I’m doing, I know what I’m actually talking about, rather than just waffling.
Azra is the lady in pink
Selina: I think you’ve answered the next question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Would you recommend it to others? And who should do the course?
Azra: I definitely would recommend the course, and especially for people from my background, it’s completely different. And I’m not going to lie to you Selina, I said it to Nafisa, I said, when Undeleeb brought me to your Amaliah event you did, all these kind of things for me were wishy-washy. I’m a very black and white person you know, brought up in the 1980’s schooling and all that kind of thing, and so I thought you know, this is all too dreamy, kind of thing, but it’s not really, because over the few months that I’ve been with Enroll Yourself, David has introduced me to a coach as well. And I’ve actually realised things about myself, which I would have not realised, so whether somebody wants to do it for a business, or has a learning question they want to aspire to, or whether, like me, I didn’t have a learning question by the way, I just had my confidence and my insecurities of doing a business, so I will definitely recommend it to anybody.
What was the main skill you gained?
Azra: My main skill – I think it’s a couple. First of all, reflecting on myself. Looking into myself, where I think maybe I didn’t do that. Secondly, I think speaking up and talking in front of a group of people was great for me. Thirdly, I think, knowledge. I think knowledge is probably the main one. Like looking into things I probably wouldn’t have looked into.
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Enroller @man.is.ha.ha documented her #LearningMarathon through a beautiful sketchbook which she shared with showcase guests alongside her project 'Return journeys from psychosis city', which included a handsewn backpack, a short film and a live performance. #showcase #talentshow #event #sketchbook #journal #craft #artist #storytelling #journey #wellbeing #london photo credit @probablyedith 📸
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What challenges did you overcome?
Azra: Standing up and talking to these people that I actually thought were… no not actually thought; they are more educated than me, and they are working in lines of work that I’m not known to.
That was the biggest challenge of me just saying in front of them, “look guy’s, I’m just a mum by the way,” and I know people say “oh, you’re not just a mum,” but I felt like me not having the education, and me not having the vocab, and me not having the way these guys were speaking, I felt like I was not in a good position. But, they didn’t make me feel like that, to be honest, it was me who was feeling like that.
So, yeah. Also, making new friends by the way. When you asked me that question before, what did I gain? Getting to know people like David, which I kind of feel like, he’s a friend for life kind of thing – like, I can call him and say, look David, I’m having trouble with this, can you help me? And I’m sure he will.
Selina: I think that’s also a testament to who you are.
Azra: Yeah, no Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah. And friends in the group, there are a couple that you know, Alhamdulillah, you see the other side of these people as well.
How did you manage your time? [between kids, like I don’t know what your home is like now, obviously, I know you’re a wife; how did you manage your time?]
Azra: It is hard, because I’m still picking and dropping my son off to school, which is quite far. As a single mum, and with five children, and being a carer, it was hard. But, when David asked me this question: “Are you going to manage the course?” And, I said to David, you know what, I’m going to try my most best, and I have done. But there’s been a couple of times when the meeting has been going on, and I couldn’t make it because I wasn’t well, or I completely forgot.
But other than that, if you want to do something Selina, you actually make time for it.
What advice would you give to others unsure about doing the course/programme
Azra: I would say, even though you’re unsure, and you’re in my position, you’re like completely in the dark not knowing what you’re gonna be going through, I would say give it a go, and if you feel unsure in the first lesson or first class, don’t give up, because gradually you will grow into that class. And I’ve actually have said to David, that if there are other courses, similar to this, or slightly different, I don’t mind carrying on, because I’m actually learning how these classes are giving you that extra bit of knowledge and confidence, and me growing within myself.
So, on the final note, what does balance look like for you now with everything going on as a Azra, a mother, a student and Insha Allah businesswoman to be?
Azra: [Pause to think]…Completely different. Completely different, because I’ve started questioning things within myself, and realized a few things whilst talking to the class, about myself. And I have actually felt that where I was unsure about things, now I feel like, “no, I can actually do this,” so, balancing things within myself, for my family, and for my business – hopefully, to be – I think it will be fine. I think it’s completely different for me, because I want to get this right. Some people might join the course, and say, “oh, but we heard the sister talk about it, and it’s not completely different for me.” I come from a very protected background, as in not going to classes like these, so it was completely new to me, so when you go to something like that, it’s completely different, but you learn a lot over the process. So, I’ve got another 2 months left, but hopefully, in that 2 months, I’m hoping that I should be hitting the peak.
Selina: You will, you will InshAllah.
And, have you enjoyed it?
Azra: Yeah, I have. At times like maybe coming back from school, and quickly jumping onto the train to get the half six class and stuff like that, I guess you’re kind of tired. But other than that, honestly, it’s been fun. It’s been good.
If there are any mums out there, perhaps they’ve been a stay at home mum for a long time, and I was a stay at home mum for a bit, and I did lose my confidence what message would you give to them?
Azra: I would say, I know you guys will probably think, “oh I won’t be able to manage it,” or “I won’t have the time,” or “the kids are going to be neglected,” but I feel like, it’s so important to look at yourself.
I have literally never looked at myself beforehand. And for me, not having a degree was a big, big factor – “oh my gosh, I’m not educated, and my friends are better than me because they’re educated,” but you know, one sister said to me, “do you know the Prophet (SAW) wasn’t educated?”
and yet, he had the best mannerisms. So, I thought to myself, you know what, I’m not going to beat myself up for not having a degree, and me not speaking so eloquently. I’m gonna work on myself, and work at the pace that I’m gonna do. Everybody’s at a different pace, and at a different level. Try the course because you meet nice people, people from different backgrounds, and it’s nice to open up that wall of yours, like you don’t have to stay in that little cocoon, that little shelter that you’re so used to.
Selina: Is it a safe space?
Azra: Yeah, absolutely. And even David, when he asks me, “are you going to come to this, are you going to come to this?” and I said “yes! Yes, I am!.”
Is there anything else you wanted to share?
Azra: I actually wanted to say to you and Nafisa, I was thinking about you guys, just a few weeks ago, and I was thinking, gosh, if I didn’t go to the Amaliah event, if I didn’t speak to Nafisa so deeply into that conversation that I had with her; couple of things that Nafisa did say to me, that I would like to… I follow her on Instagram, and Alhamdullillah, I want to say Jazakamullah Khairun, thank you so much for helping me.
Selina: Alhamdulillah. Thank you so much for coming, honestly, you were an inspiration that day as well.
Both women tail off into conversations about motherhood, dreams, and goals…We hope Azra has inspired you as she has us.
Co-founder of Amaliah amongst many other roles. Selina is passionate about empowering those around her and just trying to be a better person. She loves looking after plants and a good cuppa because motherhood and running Amaliah.com is not for the faint hearted. She is also Co-founder to Aishah and Eesa and currently a one digit mother, Alhamdulilah. You will find her in the local charity shop, garden centre or park with her kids. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at [email protected]