I was born in Uganda, East Africa, but was forced to leave my home and everything that I knew and loved when I became a refugee at the age of 9 ½ years. When we left Uganda, we simply locked the door to our home and got on a plane, leaving our life as we knew it. This journey changed my life and fueled my passion for helping those in need.

After leaving Uganda, my Mom, myself, and my two younger brothers moved to Pakistan (where my Mom was born) to stay with family while my Dad tried to get himself out of danger and to a new, safer homeland. We had no idea if Dad would survive the ravages of this exodus, or where he would end up. He could only rescue the four of us and couldn’t get himself out, despite his high position in Ugandan society. He was born there as was his Mother, but during this horrible apartheid, none of that mattered.

During this time, so many families were torn apart; many were harmed physically, and all lost everything that they ever owned or loved. Even years later, many tragedies followed these refugees to their new adopted homelands, including a high rate of divorce, and particularly amongst the young, suicide.

Dad eventually made his way to Canada, but without a penny to his name. He recalled the story of getting off the plane in Toronto, reaching into his shirt pocket to get out his cigarettes, only to realize that he didn’t have any, nor did he have any money to buy them or anything else. He eventually borrowed money and was able to bring us to Canada after 9 months of separation. He went from being an elite member of Ugandan society to a mechanic who worked for minimum wage while being treated as a “Paki” outsider. He had to rebuild from the ground up and suffer a ton of humiliation, but at least he was alive and could finally reunite with his family.

The year my family reunited was also the first time I saw snow, and it was magical. From that point on, snow represented my family’s unity and safety, and whenever I see it, It’s still magical to me. To this day, I am indebted to Canada and love it with all my heart. Until I was 25, I lived in Southwestern Ontario, Canada and obtained my BSc and MSc in Biology. In graduate school, I met my best friend and fellow Canadian scientist, Greg, who later became my husband. After graduation and our wedding, we moved to the USA so I could complete my PhD at Michigan State University. I became a US citizen have lived in Michigan and Indiana for a total of 27 years.

My parents raised us to be honest and to always give back and pay it forward. If you had the opportunity to help somebody in need, it was your moral obligation to do so. My Medzorb journey, which was never planned from the beginning, is now my way of giving back. I believe that we as humans exist to help each other – and I intend to do this by easing the pain, discomfort, anxiety, and embarrassment of anyone who suffers from excessive sweating. I know how horrible it is to struggle with excessive sweating; that’s why my goal for Medzorb is to help and support people with similar issues by providing them with innovative and effective solutions.

But for me, it doesn’t stop there. I love people, but I love animals too. My family fosters cats and kittens for the Indianapolis Humane Society (www.indyhumane.org) We get cats from all sorts of places, including rescues from areas that have been hit by natural disasters. These animals are given the best medical and behavioral treatment possible, then they are often sent to one of the foster homes within the IndyHumane network. The key is that IndyHumane is a no-KILL shelter, so they do everything they can to give these animals a chance at a new life. Everything about this program is accomplished by volunteers and contributions. IndyHumane is not sponsored by any government (local or federal grants). So every little bit helps.

I like to think that I have passed along my parents mission of paying it forward to the next generation of our family. Five years ago, when my daughter Aneesa was 15, she donated nearly 100 dog chew toys, made out of fleece. She hand-cut each one, and hand-braided them so shelter dogs at IndyHumane have their own clean and sturdy toy to chew on and play with. Three years ago, when she was 17, she donated about 100 fleece blankets that she made for the shelter. Some were pink and some were blue, but the cats don’t care, do they? This small token gives those cats something soft and warm; a nice addition to their new temporary home. So, since Medzorb is already about helping, we decided that a fleece cat blanket or a doggy chew toy would be donated for every Medzorb product sold.

When you purchase from Medzorb, you will be making an impact. With your purchase, you will not only help a small company owned by a woman from a refugee family, you will be helping a cat or a dog in need. Whether you buy just one item, or several, you’ll be contributing to the snowball effect of compassion, care, and giving that my parents instilled in me so long ago.

 

Nailah