When you hit rock bottom in life, it is not the end, it is just a bend.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a sickle cell patient who had been through the thick and thin in life. The job wasn’t coming because of her condition.
She had two options:
- She could either continue to endure and be limited due to her condition.
- Or take a bold step to rewrite her story by taking some intentional actions.
What did she do?
Let’s find out from the interview I had with her.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Zainab Ahmed Lukuta, the fourth child from a family of four children.
I did my Primary School education in Tanga Region, Tanzania. Later, I shifted to Dar es Salaam for my Secondary education.
I went to another region (Iringa) for my University studies where I studied Community Development Course at a degree level.
After my studies, I got married with two healthy boys.
I now run a business of Tea Spices which I am the founder and CEO. I also do motivational speaking to different groups of people.
It is great to have you in this edition. I came across your profile on LinkedIn and I just couldn’t look over it. Your profile stated that you’ve overcome some health challenges in the past and that has really motivated you in life. Can you share more about the health challenges?
Once again, thank you, Chinedu.
From my young age, I can remember not being so well. I used to be hospitalized with my mother and I had very poor attendance at school because of that.
When I started Secondary School, I was still getting sick but it wasn’t like before. Then when I was in Form Three, I got so sick that my blood dropped to 3, and I fainted for some days.
So they run a medical check up on me and discovered that I had Sickle Cell. The challenges of the Sickle Cell started showing since I was young but nobody thought it could be sickle cell.
That was really shocking. Were you able to trace how you got into this?
Of course, a person gets Sickle Cell genes from both parents. Both my mother and father come from families that carry the genes of Sickle Cell.
I am very sure that there are still some people who know little or nothing about this. Maybe if they read this interview, they will start considering genotype as the key factor in choosing a partner. Can you share some of the horrible challenges you went through?
Definitely, I’ll share those horrible experiences I had.
After I came out of the hospital, I started having so many pains as I was walking and the reason was the fluid on my hip joint dried and so the bones were grinding each other. The only thing I could take painkillers and other pills for adding blood.
I stayed with the pain until I finished Form six and joined the university. But before I sat for my University Examinations, I had to postpone it and go to the hospital for an operation on both of my legs. Where they cut my hip bones and removed the bone marrow. The reason they did that was to allow blood circulation through the hip bones.
I also used to feel so tired that I could not stand or walk for a very long time. That moment, I used to be very sad and emotionally weak. I found faults in everyone around me because I was in so many pains and I thought it was not fair. Why me?
Big question – Why me? Who would you have blamed for this?
Now, I blame nobody. Even before, I was just not a happy girl and I could not blame my parents for that.
I can imagine. Career wise, how did that affect you?
I was never employed in my life apart from the works I volunteered. I used to apply for jobs but I just didn’t get any.
It got to a time that I thought about stopping to send job applications because that operation I had was not successful and the pain was still there.
I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to be employed while I had so much pain.
Are you saying it was the sickle cell disease that has stopped you from getting a job or you weren’t just lucky to be shortlisted?
The challenge I got with my legs being in so much pain stopped me from applying. Although I did apply, I never got any, and it is because God wanted me to do something else with my life.
And what is that Zainab?
There are so many people in this world who are going through so many challenges every day and I believe that among many who also went through challenges, it’s my duty to remind those people to keep holding on and to learn from the challenges they go through because God gives us those challenges to learn and grow, and also to shift us to a higher place where we deserve to be.
I am now doing well after my last operation. They have kept an artificial hip bone on my left leg. The pain is gone and I am happy with my family.
You are happily married with two lovely kids. That must have taken an angel to stand by you in those trying times. What can you say about him (I mean your husband)?
He was brought to me for a reason, He is a very loving man. During those hard times, he was always there to support me. He challenges me to grow stronger every day. I thank God for bringing him into my life
One thing for people to understand and remember everyday is WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL.
Once we know this and recognize there is God, then we shall have fewer problems in our societies.
Let’s endeavor to work hard and pray because God listens.
I definitely agree. Can you tell us more about your business?
I do make tea spices. But in my spices, I have mixed with avocado seed flour and I have decided to make mine this way so they can help anyone who is going to use them.
I mix cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove and an avocado seed flour.
The seed of an avocado has more nutritional value but many people throw it away and just eat the avocado fruit. To simplify the use of the avocado seed, I have decided to come up with my own product of tea spice so people can enjoy tea but at the same time get the nutrients from an avocado seed. I am the CEO of Faryat Products.
That’s a great work, Zainab. How has your business being faring since you started and how many years now?
It’s less than a year since I started it and ts going okay but I still have work to advertise my business in order to let people know that my product is different from many others that are in the market. And also, how much my product can help People in solving different health issues.
Do you have a website?
I haven’t prepared one but I am working on it.
What support would you love to get for your business from the government or the audience reading this interview?
I would love to see the government giving support for start-up companies like mine, business education, financial education and also, to reduce the processes in registrations of business.
From the audience reading this, I would love to get your support by buying my product for your consumption.
In doing that, it will help me grow the business and also touch the lives of many youths out there by giving them jobs and motivating them to start something on their own.
What’s your advice for every sickle cell patient reading this interview?
Sickle Cell disease is just like any other disease or challenge anyone can have. But you should NEVER EVER give up on your life because of it.
Once you know you have it, follow what the doctors tell you. And never stop dreaming big because every one of us has a chance to grow and be whoever he or she wants to be.
Thank you, Zainab. It has really been nice chatting with you. I wish you sound health and success in all your endeavours.
Thank you so much, Chinedu, for giving me your time. I believe my interview will inspire someone who can bring a change into his or her life.
Definitely. Have a wonderful week ahead.
And you too my friend.