October was a whirlwind for me, actually scratch that this entire year was a crazy whirlwind. I was scheduled for a very important surgery in the beginning of the month (surgery I was putting off for 3 YEARS!). I eventually got it done and to say the post operative care was rough is an understatement. In the blur of all this, in my heavily medicated state I accepted an invitation from Raheema Kaka to MC an event, details of which I was vaguely aware. Don’t do drugs kids.
Forward to a day or two before the event and I started to feel really ill. In all my years of MC’ing events, this felt like the first time I was going to cancel and not attend. But with the help of my sister, I soldiered through and made it and boy was I glad I did.
Miles of Smiles was started by sisters, Raheema and Naadirah Kaka. I remember interviewing Raheema almost a year back when she started an initiative to make care packages for the elderly in communities around Johannesburg. The brunch I MC’ed was part of the Mohsin Project. Raheema and Naadirah’s uncle Mohsin has Downs Syndrome and in his honour a brunch was hosted at the Rooftop Cafe for people with Downs Syndrome and their caregivers. There was an amazing line up of speakers including Nasreen Chamda, Shazeats, Tasneem Vally and an nasheed recitation and dua from the Lenasia Muslim Association special needs class.
After the scrumptious brunch, parents were treated to make up, massages and serious pampering, while the Miles of Smiles crew planned fun activities for the stars of the day. I was amazed by the fantastic group of volunteers (many who were university students on the brink of exams), their energy, enthusiasm and kindness towards the special needs kids and adults was beautiful to witness. We can lament the downfall of our youth at length but I promise you, I see potential to change the world among the Miles of Smiles Crew. A very special thank you to Raheema for inviting me to this event, she and Naadira are the personification of beauty inside and out.
I want to share with you a bit of what I mentioned in my speech. Every single social event nowadays revolves around a celebrity or influencers attendance. I didn’t attend many events this year but this one felt real and authentic. I felt honoured to be in the company of those with special needs and especially their parents. Can you imagine, what is it in their hearts or souls that the Almighty saw and loved, that made these parents the actual guardians of the residents of Jannah? These are the real heroes in life. I felt richer, happier and honoured to be in their company. It was an eyeopening, emotional and beautiful morning. If you would like to contribute or get involved with Miles of Smiles follow them here: https://www.instagram.com/milesofsmiles_org
Heres a Downs Syndrome fact to put a smile on your face.
In 2011, Brian Skotko, a Harvard-trained physician and researcher, published a groundbreaking survey, “Self-Perceptions from People With Down Syndrome.” His work revealed that people with Down syndrome have a very high level of satisfaction in their lives and are generally very happy people. Similarly, family members of people with Down syndrome also rank high in levels of personal fulfillment. So not only are people with Down syndrome happy, but they also bring a great deal of happiness to their friends and family members. Indeed, the survey found that 88 percent of siblings of children with Down syndrome feel that they are better people for having had their brothers and sisters; and other studies have found that children with Down syndrome have strong adaptive skills and that their parents tend to divorce less than the parents of children without Down syndrome.
All pictures were taken by the supremely talented Faadil Cassim; follow him here: https://www.instagram.com/mosparksproductions/