Mountain-conquering Custom House woman inspiring others and helping the needy by challenging herself
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 August 2020
A woman from Custom House is helping others to take on the world while supporting life-changing charity work.
Taksima Ferdous, 34, has overcome her fears and mental health issues to conquer mountains – from Snowdon and Ben Nevis to Kilimanjaro and Everest - and is inspiring other young Muslim women to challenge themselves and follow their passion, too.
What started as a hobby for Taksima is now her job, as challenge events fundraising coordinator at Muslim Islamic humanitarian charity Penny Appeal.
The charity runs sponsored challenges - such as mountain treks, marathons and sky diving - inviting people to push themselves while fundraising for appeals including thirst relief and emergency response.
Taksima found that challenges were a gateway to exploring the world around her, beginning with a “really tough” Mount Snowdown trek.
“I had no previous experience, I didn’t train for it,” she said.
“It was really painful, I remember telling the mountain guide, ‘I’m dying, I can’t do this’, but I enjoyed my experience so much that two weeks later I found myself on Ben Nevis.”
From there, Taksima decided to take on Kilimanjaro - Africa’s tallest mountain - and a whirlwind of travel and trekking began.
“I didn’t have that much experience but I thought if I put my mind to it, it can happen,” she said.
“Despite whatever pain I’m going through, I can achieve what I need to as long as I just remain focused.”
For Taksima, trekking has proven to be a way of navigating her anxiety and depression, giving her a sense of structure and support that motivates her.
When she began trekking, Taksima had a fear of walking down hills but with patience and practice overcame it.
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The physical training and emotional support from her friends and fellow trekkers have helped Taksima persevere and continue to take on new challenges.
“When people tell me, ‘oh, I don’t think I can do it’, I always say ‘trust me, if I can do it, anyone can’,” she said.
“It’s all about pushing forward. Whatever pain or barrier I have, I just push forward and think, ‘actually this is nothing if I just take one step at a time.’”
By putting one foot in front of the other, Taksima has not only achieved goals and overcome fears but also defied stereotypes.
When she first started trekking in 2012, either on her own or with groups, Taksima would often be one of few Muslim women on the mountain.
“Even when I’m traveling on my own, on treks or adventures, I go to certain areas and I might be the only one who’s wearing a scarf, but then I get to have these conversations with people and defy those stereotypes that are seen in the media,” she said.
“It encourages people to follow on, to not be afraid to do their own challenges, or seek their own adventures.”
Taksima finds that taking on challenges within the charity sector is a way for Muslim women - and everyone - to come together for the common goal of helping others and embark on a journey of discovery and understanding together.
In her role at Penny Appeal, Taksima inspires others to go the distance when taking on challenges and pushing themselves to the limit for charity.
She supports people who are interested in trying a challenge and encourages challengers who need some encouragement to carry on or help with their fundraising goal.
“Somebody told me once, and I will always remember it: ‘as a fundraiser, when you ask someone to donate you are inviting them to a good deed’,” Taksima said.
“Allah tells us in the Qur’an that we should give in charity and help those in need.
“So when you go out and fundraise for a challenge, you’re there as an ambassador for Allah, you’re giving someone the opportunity to do a good deed.
“If you see it in that way, it’s not that much of a chore or a task.”
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