The Mum Who Inspired Penny Appeal
A Mother’s Day Interview with Aunty Zubeda
This Mother’s Day, we got to talking with the incredible mother of Penny Appeal founder, Adeem Younis. In fact our book, Small Change, Big Difference, is especially dedicated to Aunty Zubeda who Adeem credits as his earliest role model.
Adeem was just six years old when his father passed away and overnight the pressures of looking after their home and earning an income fell to her. Back then in the 1980’s it was very unusual for the women of his community to even drive a car, let alone hold down a job. However, Aunty Zubeda didn’t let societal expectations get in the way of her doing everything she could to provide for her family.
Her resilience and determination in the face of loss and hardship inspired Adeem in both his entrepreneurial and philanthropic mission he credits her as the very reason he founded Penny Appeal. He says “ To me she is the heart of the Penny Appeal and the reason it is more than just a charitable organisation, but a devote extended family working together to transform the world for the better.”
We hope this interview will give you a little more background into the exceptional woman who inspired the Penny Appeal story. Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Small Change, Big Difference by visiting the Penny Appeal Shop so you can dive deeper into our inspiring story!
Aunty Zubeda Tells All!
Q: What was it like for you raising a young family in Wakefield during the 1980’s?
A: When we lost Adeem’s father it was a real shock to us all. Adeem was six and his youngest sister was just 2. She was so attached to her dad. She used to be so chatty and talkative, but after Muhammad passed away, she just stopped talking. She would listen and nod her head but for the longest time, she never spoke. She was heartbroken. We all were. I remember taking Adeem to parents evening, all the other parents had both their mum and dad with them, but it was just me and him. Adeem asked, where’s my dad? Why can’t I have a dad? I had nothing to say to him. Just tears.
I knew I had to just keep going. The financial pressure was tough. I wanted to give my kids clothes and new shoes but we just couldn’t afford it. We did what we could to get by, God always provides.
Q: Were you worried about the children’s future?
A: I knew if I didn’t do anything we could have ended up on the streets. I knew how to sew, so that’s how I started. I knew many ladies in the community didn’t have this skill. I wanted to work as a sewing instructor but the boss of the company we were working for said I didn’t have a teaching qualification. So, I said I’ll get one. It was a new environment for me, but I enrolled into Wakefield College and I got the qualification I needed and then I got paid to be a sewing teacher. I never stopped doing everything I could to provide for my family.
Q: What was Adeem like growing up?
A: When I see Adeem’s son Abdullah, I am reminded of how Adeem looked when he was that young. He was a cheeky young child but his teachers both at school and the mosque were always happy with him. He used to be quite a lazy boy, I had to drag him out of bed every morning. But something changed after he did the ITV work experience. He got up on his own every day for those two weeks and every day since. He never needed waking up again. I think for the first time he really felt like there was something to get up for and accomplish. He hasn’t stopped since.
Q: Every parent wishes the best for their children, but did you ever expect to see Adeem accomplish so much?
A: To be honest, I didn’t understand what he was doing exactly at first. I still remember that day going to Pizza Piazzo and climbing up a tiny staircase to see his first office. It was just a room with a couple computers. I asked him if this was really the best use of his time. He said, don’t worry mum, just watch, I’ll show you. I guess he did!
Penny Appeal was even more of a surprise. I remember when he was still a teenager, he told me he saw a dream of his dad’s village. That the houses were like this and trees like that. He’d never been but years later when he first visited his dad’s village, he found it was exactly like his dream. He was really taken back by what he saw. He told me they were so poor, they have no toilets, they have no running water, animals roam around everywhere. He was sad that people lived like that but we had all these comforts. That trip was a turning point, he wanted to help them and soon after the Penny Appeal was born.
Q: Did you do anything to encourage him to give?
A: Charity is very important in our faith. I taught my children that no matter how little you have, we should always give. Every Friday I used to encourage him to go to the mosque and give a little in charity. Even if it was a few pennies, Adeem loved to give. He’s always had a big heart. When you give a little with a lot of heart, it means more to God then giving a lot but not from your heart.
Q: What has your proudest moment as a mother been?
A: The work of the Penny Appeal has made me very proud. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. The mosques, and schools and orphan homes, the work is so inspiring. I saw widows who had nothing, being given work to do and looking after orphan children who also had nothing. It was very dignifying. My heart burst when I first visited Penny Appeal’s work. I was in tears. It’s really amazing what has been accomplished.
Q: What is your best advice for parents today, especially those who are struggling?
A: Be patient and work hard. That’s all you can do. God is with you. Watching over you. He knows your struggles and your dreams for your children. We all want overnight success, but that’s not how life works. Be patient, everything is a test and everything will work out.
You can read more about Aunty Zubeda and the role she has played in inspiring our charity in Small Change, Big Difference: The Penny Appeal Story. Reserve your copy today for our special pre-launch discounted price!
SUNDAY 14 MAR 2021