Shining light Liza Ahmed Chowdhury has found a new passion for learning, gained employment and qualifications – and has now been elected to our Board.
The 35 year-old mother of two who currently holds down three jobs (including running her own business) and has just bought a new house in Newton, has impressed members of her community with her compassion, drive and energy.
Three years ago Liza found herself in a very different situation. Before leaving her home-country of Bangladesh to join her husband in Tameside, all she knew about England, was ”perfume brands, bits of culture and fish and chips!”
When she arrived in England, she quickly adapted to a new life-style living with her in-laws and taking on the full time caring responsibilities for an elderly grandmother and a mother-in-law who was paralysed down one side of her body. Despite encouragement from her husband, she delayed studying for years and instead formed a strong bond with her extended family. So while Liza spent ten years growing her own family and looking after older relatives, she failed to find time to do things for herself. She had immersed herself in family life and put her own development needs aside.
Fondness for family
But Liza looks back at those times with great fondness. Her attachment to her extended family is something she is very proud of. Caring for older relatives inspired her desire to work as a carer and bringing up her two children in such a loving setting has given them some great role models for life.
Although Liza was proud and happy to be a vital part of her extended family, looking after relatives and her own children, three years ago she started to feel that the time had come to do things for herself too. Making that change, after so many years, was not an overnight decision. But her life changed when her sister-in-law recommended Hyde Community Action and with a lot of persuasion, managed to convince Liza to attend a creative crafts class. Said Liza: “From my first day there, I really liked it. It became my second home, I would run there and they would have to kick me out at the end of the day!”
Ain’t no stopping her now
Liza seized the opportunity to shine. With her new-found confidence, she achieved 24 accredited qualifications, completed a hair and beauty course at Ashton Sixth Form College, formed her own home-based business and became a lunchtime organiser at a local primary school and a carer for older people in Stalybridge. She even worked as a volunteer ambassador for the Fire Service, visiting homes and educating people on fire safety.
Her vision, business acumen and ability to organise and communicate made her a perfect candidate for election to our Board. But first and foremost she remains a superb volunteer mentor to other local women attending Hyde Community Action – an organisation she describes as, “an angel holding my hand.”
At first, when Liza started to make time for herself, her family supported her and encouraged her. But not everyone around her were supportive. Many felt that it was an impossible task, to reinvent yourself as a successful business owner, after so many years spent looking after family.
Liza proved them wrong. “If I could speak to myself a few years ago” said Liza, “I would say that it is possible to be a good mother and daughter while looking after yourself too. And even if you have been out of work or not studied for a while, it’s never too late! You just have to believe in yourself, never give up, and be strong. My family and Hyde Community Action believed in me when I hadn’t studied or done things for myself for many years. When I wanted to start my own business and progress my life, and the time had come, they were there for me and helped me feel, that I could make it happen. I was at a standstill but they helped me get started on this journey of personal development.”