Today I’m sharing a story of courage and resilience that will inspire many. Zahra is no ordinary girl but one who has faced the struggles of life with a smiling face. She is a mother, daughter, a Montessori teacher turned Human Resources Specialist and a Chef by choice. Her story needs to be shared to give hope, strength and confidence to any girl who is feeling overwhelmed with life.
Zahra was raised in a family of all girls by parents who loved breaking stereotypes and were proud of their daughters. Her father was an Army officer and mother an entrepreneur. Zahra was the pampered child of the house. She got married right after graduation with the perfect man who was the best in every relationship. The only minus in this otherwise ideal situation was that she could not do a Masters degree even after getting Roll of Honors in Graduation. Life was a fairy tale till the year 2007 proved to be a life changer. Zahra became a 26 years old widow with two young children.
This sudden tragedy shook her life but the loss didn’t give her the luxury to stop. She had to gather herself for her two little boys who she wanted to raise like any other child in the neighborhood, with the same hopes and aspirations. She joined Mobilink, the organization where her husband worked, right after her iddat in May 2008. Life was challenging and there were many who would have loved to see her sit at home and mourn her late husband instead of celebrating his legacy: their boys. She heard many comments such as, “You will not be able to manage the corporate world”, “Kids will be spoiled due to your absence”, “Why do you want to take away the mother also from your orphan children”, “Single girls can not survive in our society”, and some even blamed her for whatever happened. But nothing could stop her. She took charge of her life and managed work, home and her boys. Life started to move along at a slow pace.
By 2013 after many twists and turns, Zahra felt her life was getting back on track. Kids were manageable and doing well. They were surrounded by a wonderful clan of family and friends. She was climbing the corporate ladder of success and life was smooth again. Suddenly, her father, who was her pillar of strength, was diagnosed with cancer and within a couple of weeks they lost him.
Five years and two months took away the two most important relations from Zahra’s life. She faced a different set of challenges and this time they were far more intense. Her mother who had always been her caretaker was grieving herself. Her boys were inconsolable, as this time they were old enough to know exactly what they had lost: their anchor, the person they loved more than even their mother. Along with all this, Zahra developed a cardiac defect. But this time too she could not stop. She started a roller coaster of a ride again. With each passing day, She felt the need to be with her kids and enhance her education which was her mother’s dream, push from her sister and need of the hour too.
In January 2016, Zahra bid farewell to Mobilink to become a student and a full time mother again. Mobilink had been the organization which opted to be her family and stood by her when many close relations had failed her, so it was a difficult goodbye. Soon she realized that she could not bank on her savings for long and started exploring something she could do from home. She always had a passion for cooking and was advised by her friends to start a venture that involved cooking.
On January 19, 2016, Zahra the entrepreneur & ZarZ Kitchen were born sharing the same date of birth. As she opened her business she did not realize how her little venture will succeed. She is now able to provide support to many women who are bread earners and were looking for a platform to take charge of their life. Zahra firmly believes that it takes someone strong to make someone strong. She wanted to make the women she employed strong just like her mother, sisters and girlfriends had given her strength.
ZarZ Kitchen started with a very small take-away menu to provide healthy, hygienic and hearty frozen food to the people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Within a couple of months they had become “Kitchen Companions” for their customers in everyday meals. Zarz Kitchen provides food to women hostels and customized food for people with special dietary needs. They now also cater for family parties and corporate events. ZarZ Kitchen keeps growing through the passion, dedication and innovation of Zahra and her team.
Looking back at her journey, Zahra says: “We all talk about women empowerment & gender equality, however we forget that it comes from within. Nobody will come to give us cake in a plate. We certainly have to strive for it. The past nine years have been a roller coaster ride for me and my boys. We have been in a constant struggle of endurance and have faced troubles one after the other but nothing could stop us from celebrating life and whatever we have. Being a single parent has become my greatest strength. I now feel that it’s not a life of struggle but a journey of strength and adventure. Always remember, the tragedies we face in life, are not as significant as the reactions we give to them.”
If you live in Islamabad or Rawalpindi do give ZarZ Kitchen a try! I have had the pleasure of enjoying their cooking and it’s simply out of this world. You can call them at 0300 8508181 or contact via their Facebook page. They also deliver within Islamabad and Rawalpindi! By ordering from ZarZ Kitchen you not only feed your family healthy, home-cooked meals but also empower the women in Zahra’s team to keep supporting their families.