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As part of the 16 Days of Activism, Muslim Women Australia (MWA), in partnership with Crunch Fitness, held a webinar on the 3rd December 2020 – seeking to explore the role of health, faith and purpose in the life of a woman, particularly in times of difficulty.

After holding a private class for female victims of domestic violence, Hajeh Maha Krayem Abdo OAM, CEO of MWA and Muslim human rights leader, along with Selena Afeaki, CEO of Crunch Fitness and Christian business leader, sparked conversation regarding the empowering role of faith in their lives. In what was a truly inspirational discussion, they provided practical advice alongside an exploration of self-discovery – drawing upon how faith, purpose and self-awareness all link to the mind, body and soul. 

“Purpose allows you to move in and out of different states of emotion to different roles. As the CEO, my purpose is to make sure the organisation is to meet its mandate and staff are well. As a grandmother, my role is different”, Maha explained. “Not everything we do makes us happy, that is where growth happens – knowing God has planned it out for me and finding contentment regardless of the outcome.”

Selena reflected that in order to live a deliberate life embedded in purpose, it is important to realise that God had seeded individual greatness in everyone that needed to be “watered and flourished”.

Both women recognised that despite difficulties especially for businesses amongst COVID-19, purpose remains the same. In her own words, Maha mentions that “COVID taught us [that] with God, we connect beyond space and time” – saying how purpose, inherently, is about “big hearts filled with the light of God”.

In speaking further on the concept of serving, they highlighted the importance of intention and identity – balanced with a rounded understanding of humility, service as worship, and the fear of failure.

Maha encouraged women to get their hands dirty. She said, “Don’t be afraid. Ask, “When can I start? And where can I do what you would like me to do?” Not to build a portfolio but to serve, because I love people and God’s creation.” 

Selena added that it is crucial to know who you are, and know yourself to know what serves you, before you go out to seek. As these women reflected on their own lives they acknowledged being open to God’s “nudges” and “breezes of mercy” and reminded listeners to “look for the doors and the signs”.

They explain how humility starts with the home – a rich source to “draw strength” and “nourish [the] soul by respecting differences”. Yet, in serving the family unit as a woman, both acknowledged that despite taking up a lot of energy, it shouldn’t feel like a burden. Maha advised to make self-care a way of life – suggesting that we can’t give from an empty cup, and that self-care will allow us to care for others better.

When discussing fear and failure, adopting a growth mindset was at the forefront of the conversation – seeing failure as learning opportunities, and understanding that perfection isn’t real. They also advised having trust and reliance in God’s plan – controlling what we can and surrendering to what we can’t, as “the [final] outcome and path may not be what [we] think it is”.

In a conversation that was truly inspiring, there was a call to action. One must be accountable for their time and do the work. Selena said, “It takes work to be great, you have to make the right decisions, you have to want to live a life on purpose and to do that, you have everything inside you”. In concluding, Maha reflected that this discussion was taking place on the International Day of People with Disabilities and that in fact, there “is no disability, rather everyone has different abilities. We come together as women from different fields, different faiths but souls connecting to complement each other.” 

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