Shaheeda Shariff

I take nothing for granted

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1970, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, when I was three years old. In 1979 I moved with my family to Houston, Texas, where I did most of my growing up. In 1986 we moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where we lived for a year, and finally moved back to Vancouver in 1987, as Vancouver had always been home. Most of my active life I was very active and I enjoyed ice skating, roller skating, ballet, track and field, and horseback riding. In 1992 I attended CompuCollege School of Business, and graduated with a diploma in MicroComputer Business Applications.

In 1995 I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, and I was using a cane at that time and for about seven years. It has been a long process to diagnose the specific type of Muscular Dystrophy I have and I am in the rare and special category. I also started working with my father at our retail store, ‘Loonie Plus Royal Centre,’ where we worked, hand in hand, operating the business together until 1997. In 1997 my father had a stroke at our store. It paralyzed the right side of his body From then on I ran the business, overseeing all aspects, and keeping it going for him so that he had something to come back to and to count on being there for him. In 1998 I was given an award for our retail management for ‘Outstanding Marketing Performance, Honorable Mention Loonie Plus Royal Centre’. In 2001-2002 I received an award from ‘Honored Professional in the National Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals.’ At the end of 2000 due to the toll that running the business took on me and my health, I decided with a heavy heart to finally close the store. By the end of 2001 my health took a turn for the worse, and the following year I was using a wheelchair.

I have faced many adversities throughout my life, and many other health crises as the years have gone by, but I have always stayed through the course that I have been on, no matter how hard or disappointing or frustrating it has been. Many of my friends and family have told me I have strength within me they are impressed and awed by, and that I have lived more life than my 35 years. My belief is that you are here on earth, and given only what is meant for you, only what you are able to handle, and nothing more or less. I think what has happened in my life is meant for me to share my story with others and help someone in the process. That is my gift of life. Living with Muscular Dystrophy since 1985 and watching my health deteriorate significantly over the last few years, has given me the insight that my time here is very short and very precious, so friends, family, and life itself is an extremely important part of me, and I take nothing for granted.

As I listen to the stories of others I feel the pain and hardship of those who I don’t know, and it allows me to stop and think of what I can give. It has given me a better understanding of issues that I would not normally think about on a daily basis. I want to be a voice for those who can not speak out for themselves. I believe that it is very important to hear the stories of other people’s lives, and other people’s experiences, and take the time in our daily life to remember, and maybe give something of ourselves to them. We need to hear them and learn from them, especially stories about the issues of homelessness and indifference in our city, in our province, and in our country.

We have been given so much in our lives, more than we can use, yet there are people who are starving, dying, and in need of our help. We have to remember these are people like everyone else. The only difference is their circumstances.

We are creating a cooperative enterprise for people with abilities that work. I provide transcription, editing, and research services. Our interest is to create opportunities for everyone with abilities to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic development of the communities who contribute to improving the quality of our lives.

Shaheeda Shariff
Shaheeda Works