The Gift of Giving — Samya Mohammad—by Yasmeen Al Momani
There are many beautiful gifts that arise on the journey of life. For Samya Mohamad, she has been endowed with faith and fulfillment in the community, while bestowing her own shining gift of support, help and unity upon others.
In early adulthood, Samya graduated with a business degree from Cairo University (Khartoum campus) and set off on a career as an accountant in Sudan. Next, she lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years, before she and her husband made the journey to America with their two sons. She heard from her friends that the neighbouring country of Canada was a very inclusive and fulfilling environment, and so they moved here soon after. The trip to Canada was an exciting one as Samya looked forward to the horizon of new possibilities in this country with her family. There were also challenges that she faced here, the most prominent one being the language barrier. Although Samya loved the English language and had been well-versed in it since she was a little girl, it was still foreign and difficult for her. Thankfully, the Kitchener-Waterloo community softened this challenge for her as she found many open hands extending help and resources. Samya found the community to be very welcoming for immigrants and she found support in many organizations for multicultural individuals, such as the Focus for Ethnic Women in Waterloo. All of this helped enhance her learning and pushed her to improve her language skills until she was confident and satisfied in herself.
Despite the obstacles that came with the move, Kitchener-Waterloo brought her a gift. This gift was the birth of her daughter, Bayan, who was her first girl and a new blessing for Samya’s family. Her baby girl brought tears of joy to her eyes and she knew then there would be more positive events forthcoming in her life.
A large part of Samya’s personality is that she enjoys helping others, whether it is financially, psychologically or spiritually, and whether it is a big or small thing that they need. Any form of support that someone may require, she is there to extend a helping hand and ensure that they have a pillar to lean on. She displays this passion for helping through her work on an international level, by helping families and people overseas. Samya has connections in Sudan, Syria, Lebanon and other countries who reach out to her and provide her with information about families or people who need assistance. She then works through the cases and determines what people need and how she can get it to them. Her work is very ethical as she collects donations for orphaned children, widows, sick individuals or low-income households so that they can acquire food, medicine and other necessities that are difficult to obtain. She firmly believes that a little goes a long way, so every donation, no matter how small or big, helps the cause and she has employed a clever method of dividing the money collected into shares for the people.
Sending these donations overseas is a divine gift to those who need and benefit from them. It also feels like a gift for Samya, who puts in her time and hard work into collecting and sending the money. The feelings that overcome her once she reaches her goal and confirms that the money has been distributed are rewarding and fill her with joy. She knows that Allah (God) is fair and just, and her heart glows with gratitude for Him for giving her the opportunity to be a helping hand for people. Her delight in helping someone who has no direct relation to her brings her hope that people can be there for each other. She is also grateful to be a trustworthy member of our community, as people are confident in her and trust her to collect donations. The continued support and donations from the community is what empowers her to continue this charitable work.
Separate from the incredible influence that Samya has at an international level, she also blossoms within the community. She considers herself lucky to have been one of the founding members of the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW). In their early days, Samya heard about a group of women who would come together in the Masjid (the Mosque), to speak to each other. When the news of Bill 94 came out, Samya felt that her Muslim sisters in Quebec were being targeted and needed support. She attended the meet-ups that she had heard about. What she found was a strong and passionate group of women who shared ideas. When they realized that their voices were being heard within the community, they decided to take things to the next level and be more active, which is how the CMW was formed. They wanted to educate the larger community in a positive way and empower Muslim women so that no one would be left behind. Every step along the way since then has filled Samya with joy and pride, and with each stage in their journey she gained something new, such as a learning experience or a skill. As the CMW was formed, an enhanced version of Samya was also created: as the CMW grew, she flourished and became more confident in herself and in those around her.
Samya feels elated when the CMW holds events. She is a part of annual events such as A Day of Dialogue with Muslim Women, Unveil the Fun with Muslim Women, Muslim Women: Now and Then, and Muslim Women Through a Diverse Lens, where she is the volunteer coordinator and a part of the planning team. In 2016 she was recognized for her work by receiving the “Five-Year Service Award” from CMW at a beautiful award ceremony. Samya holds a deep appreciation and admiration for all of the women she has worked with and believes that everyone in the Coalition deserves an award.
She has also volunteered at many events held by the Muslim Association of Canada, which have played a tremendous role in her journey and increased her faith in others. Her work at Al Huda School as an administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator increased her network and brought her closer to diverse community members and the wonderful Sudanese community in Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, which is one large family that enriches her faith and hope in people.
One of the things that Samya has truly learned on her journey is how to empathize and feel for others around her so that she can understand and be there for them. A saying that Samya holds dear to her heart is by the Messenger of Allah. This saying, as narrated by Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir, is: “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” Samya believes that this should be applied to her community, in that if one person aches or is undergoing a problem, the entire community is there to help and be there for them, just as the body would respond with the immune system to heal a single limb. Samya has a true passion for pursuing this belief within our community. She says, “I hope that one day we all think not as ‘I,’ but as ‘we,’ because ’we’ makes us stronger together.” The saying from the Prophet is what ignited this belief within her.
A society should be built with everyone treating each other from a humanitarian perspective, with kindness, empathy and affection. If everyone treated each other like an extension of their own body, with support and endearment, no one would be left hungry or sick and unable to seek help. This value of solidarity is a concept that Samya dreams of being realized in the world.
Samya incorporates this principle into our city by advocating to keep the ticket price for events held by the CMW affordable or having subsidies available for people who cannot afford them. Because she has interacted with so many people and understands financial hardships, Samya wants to make sure that everyone has the chance to attend an event regardless of whether they have the funds for it. It is important to make sure that everyone is included and feels welcome at the events and in the community. Samya knows what it is like to feel this sense of inclusion and belonging, so she wants others to be able to experience this feeling as well. Much like what the Prophet said, she is treating others with compassion as if they were a part of her own body.
She believes that there is a ripple effect when helping others. If someone helps five people, and then each of them goes on to help another five people, there will be so many ripples of hope and support that it creates a wave for everyone in the community to always feel needed and supported.
Her friends speak highly of her devotion for giving and helping others, and a beloved close friend of her says that, “Samya always puts others’ needs first. Only when she has fulfilled their needs, does she focus on herself.” These words are a true reflection of Samya’s character.
Samya’s gift of giving and inspiring everyone around her shines bright in our community, much like the radiant stars in the sky that guide people on their path. The impact of her compassion and empathy creates happiness in other peoples’ lives, and her need to help brings the same joy one feels when receiving a present. To Samya, the joyfulness she feels knowing that she has been able to positively affect peoples’ lives, is a gift.