Some people, like Zainab Mohamoud, are natural givers. Mohamoud gives a tremendous amount of her time to several non-profit organizations in Central Alberta, but also to those less fortunate around the world.
Mohamoud recently received the Ruby Award – Women helping Women via Soroptimist International of Central Alberta for her unwavering dedication and inspiring nature. She was chosen for this honour for her work in local non-profits, a project in which she began to build a school in Somalia, and for her generous and caring nature.
“For me, money isn’t really important. What’s most important is that every day I wake up and see that I can make somebody’s life better for them. That’s a reward for me. When I see the families I help or the women I help, all the things they accomplish – that makes me really proud, because I know that I’ve done something.”
Originally from Somalia, Mohamoud immigrated to Canada in 1997, where she began her life in Toronto. She completed her high school education, lived and worked there for 10 years before moving to Alberta. She received an Early Learning and Child Care diploma from Bow Valley College. She went on to open a dayhome, which she thoroughly enjoyed and found transformative.
“I had opened my dayhome and then I started to realize that most of these kids had single mothers, and many of them were going through very difficult times. Some of them had just gotten divorced, or were battling for custody. For some of them, they would pay their bills and not be able to put food on the table,” she said.
“That completely changed my heart. I wanted to help as much as I could so I began doing things like making birthday cakes for the kids, instead of their parents. When the kids went back to school, I’d help them with supplies and things too. I wanted to help the kids but also support those women. At the same time, I always worried about how the weekends were for them. Monday to Friday, I was with the kids. I did some research and realized how much more I could do as a social worker. I could help get people sources in the community through that job too.”
Inspired, Mohamoud decided to pursue a change in her life, and moved from Calgary to Red Deer to attain a social work diploma.
“As a social worker, I could be connected to the community. In my first year, I did my practicum and it was eye opening because before I didn’t know much about homelessness, or addictions or mental health issues. It was so eye opening. In my second year, I worked part time with the Central Alberta Aids Society doing outreach, and I saw even more through that,” Mohamoud said.
Currently, Mohamoud’s resume includes doing an extensive amount of work for Amanda Lindhout’s organization, The Global Enrichment Foundation, as well as her current role of breast cancer screening coordinator for the Central Alberta International Women’s Association (CAIWA). She has also played a major role for the past two years in organizing the annual Run for the Cure event.
“With CAIWA, I do things like interventions, and let them know what causes cancer and things like that. We find that not a lot of immigrating women go to doctors often, so I will set them up an appointment or a check-up or whatever, and I’ll go with them to make it easier,” she said.
She has taken on several jobs with CAIWA, including organizing and recruitment committees for events and volunteers, as well as organizing tournaments and fundraisers.
Mohamoud said she enjoys the work she does with immigrant women because she enjoys being able to introduce them to opportunities they may not have previously had, such as available health care and other forms of support.
Currently, Mohamoud is working to fundraise to build a school in her native Somalia. Not only has she single-handedly started the project, but she is also paying her own way to Somalia so that she can be present and active in the construction of the school.
“For the Somalia school project, we do have land donated. The community is more interested and they all want to contribute. This land, we can build more classrooms for the elementary school but in the future we can add a high school and a boarding school. Our plan is that after the elementary school, we will build a boarding school and then maybe on later a high school,” she said.
Her fundraising began as selling samosas at farmers’ markets and similar venues. Now, she has gained the support of Canadian and American groups who are willing to share in her dream. The project is making good progress and will continue to move forward.
“For me, coming to Canada was just a blessing. Every day I really cherish that. The sky is the limit and I believe that we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to. Every day I like to push myself, and give myself higher standards for the next day.”