Tanzila Zaman, a community mentor, and writer of a book, ‘Mother Tongue’, shares her experience of the pandemic.
Tanzila Zaman was born in Barisal, Bangladesh. Most of her life, prior to coming to the UK just over 10 years ago, she lived, studied and worked in Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh.
Her mother was always busy and cooking, cleaning and maintaining their home. Tanzila enjoyed her time in school. In Dhaka she studied at the best institutions and later she worked for a corporation.
Her passion to excel in her career made her come to the UK. Her employer preferred her to get trained in Singapore. She chose London.
‘Most of the things you study in Bangladesh is about memorising things. It is not practical at all. In London you are flexible. In Bangladesh there are restriction, and lots of memorising. I don’t like memorising.’
‘When I came to London my life changed (dramatically). When I came to the UK, I started studying and Allah blessed me a baby boy. So having to study, having to look after a baby boy and a husband was really hard.’
She felt she also suffered from post-natal depression. It was a tough time for her.
‘Back home (in Bangladesh), my mum would help her aunt all night when she gave birth. They would look after her for two to three months. No one came to help me. I was all alone in London.’
Tanzila saw Muslim women from many different backgrounds wearing hijab and niqab to cover their hair. Tanzila then started wearing hijab because she was inspired by them.
‘I feel everybody is being valued. Personally I have not experienced racism. I do work with important people: MPs, local mayors and others. They appreciate my community work. I have personally never experienced discrimination.’
As a coach Tanzila helps local residents either with their finances or develop their career. Her prime focus is to build confidence of local residents so they can build their lives with dignity.
‘I help people in many different ways. If they have any problems, I help them to fix them. If they need a social worker, if they need housing advice, I help them. If they want to set up their business, I help them.’
LIFE DURING COVID
Before Covid, she would work in an office or travel to schools to work with parents. During lockdown all her work was online.
‘Physical activities, visiting institutions and schools had completely stopped. I also stopped home visits. I do everything virtual. During Covid my husband quit his job. We were all in a cage or cave.’
Although it was tough, the impact of Covid made her appreciate her family more.
‘look - we are alive, people are in hospital, people are dying. We can breath and we are alive. This is the most motivating factor for me. My husband and I have also learnt to make roti.'
Before they use to buy everything from local shops. Making roti together has brought the family together.
Podcast interview can be listened here: