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Born in Doha, Qatar |

In 1998, although Saima’s father had a successful career as a mechanical engineer, and her mother as a radio show host, they decided to move the family. Moving to Canada sounded promising when it came to considering both their children’s education and the hope of a secure future. Saima describes herself as “not your typical Muslim Pakistani woman” and, as an opinionated person, she never really felt comfortable while growing up in Qatar. Toronto has given her both a home and a chance to be herself.

Toronto as Home

Saima has been the victim of long term abuse. After many years of suffering she eventually escaped to an Abused Women’s’ Shelter. For the first time, she had a space of her own, and a place she could actually feel at home. The people at Interim Place Mississauga were very kind, and encouraged Saima to apply for a Co-Op based apartment. Although the wait was supposed to be very long luckily, after just two months, she was approved. Soon after settling into her new “safe and secure” apartment she would walk down to Lake Ontario by the New Toronto Village in Etobicoke, sit on the bench looking out over the city of Toronto and dream.  She still seizes every opportunity to walk down by the lake and now what runs through her head is “wow…you are okay”.  When she was young she had ambitions, dreams and loved the arts.

 “I think when you’re run down more than once, even though you get back up after every fall…there comes a point in time in your life where you’re just worn out and don’t have the energy or the passion in you anymore. This city has helped me in more ways than one. My passion for life has been restored. Had I been in the same predicament in the Middle East or Pakistan, I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened to me.”

Connection with the Past

Henna is very important to Saima as a Canadian with a Pakistani background, who was born and raised in the Middle East. Both Pakistan and Qatar are known for their henna art. Saima explains how at every wedding she attended there the bride always had Henna and stunning jewelry. With it on, Saima feels unique, elegant and it is also a great conversation starter.

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