The difference between believing and doing is pivotal in creating change. The most challenging aspect involved with change is time, where the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in seven days’ is meager compared to the change children could create for the future.
An inspiring believer, and doer, is the exemplary JumanaAlawadhi, who writes and illustrates her own books for Dhari, her first-born child and her most prized investment. An avid reader, Jumana and her husband began reading for Dhari even before he was born, and soon after the shelves of his little library could no longer hold any more books, Jumana realized that something very integral was missing from their collection. The importance of instilling the Kuwaiti culture wasn’t present in any books she had encountered.
An obsession with books, a worrying concern for the future of children in Kuwait, combined with her love for children led her to establish the first series of books created with her son Dhari, the Kuwaiti child, in mind. Under the initiative of ‘We love Kuwait’, Jumana’s books are rich with developmental activities like reading, coloring, rhymes and puzzles. “At first my illustrations were artistic and detailed. Upon consulting with professionals abroad, I realized that my drawings should be simpler, allowing kids of all ages to engage and be creative by adding their own touch. Of course, my husband helped me design the ghutra.” Albeit a very simple touch, the ghutra represents a very basic and vital message to children, as this little ghutra-clad character will go on to learn about health, environmental and cultural issues relevant to his immediate surrounding environment- Kuwait.
Stunned by the success of the first series of books, Jumana and her family felt encouraged to open a children’s bookshop in Muthanna Complex in Kuwait City specialized in educational aids and books that focus on relevant issues like children’s nutrition and environmental awareness. Never hindered by the challenges, Jumana considers her work joyful. “Many tell me it must be challenging to start a book business in this world of video games, and the truth is, it was a very joyful, happy, smooth experience for me that allowed me to meet many amazing people and work with various prestigious establishments like the Commercial Bank of Kuwait and ExxonMobil. People still buy books, or else how did one book turn into a series and a successful bookshop that supplies parents as well as teachers with the educational aids they need?” Truly spoken like the Alpha-mom indeed!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
People close to me accuse me of being too happy all the time, they joke about that a lot, my sister admitted it’s kind of annoying to her sometimes. I just happen to find happiness wherever I am in life. Happiness to me is not associated with a certain place or things or time, but rather a magical rainbow-colored beam from inside of you. I’m happy because I believe in people’s genuine goodness, I’m happy because I’m doing the things I love and surrounded by all the love I need, I believe I’m happy because I’m living my dream and building new dreams as I go along.
What is your greatest fear?
My biggest fear is that one day our kids will not have the home they deserve. I’m afraid that we are not preparing them for tomorrow, to be able to endure the future. The next generations need to be raised to be compassionate, tolerant of each other and able to co-exist. My biggest fear is not living up to our potential as a country and failing our children as well as failing our forefathers.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
How camera shy I am. I always give photographers a hard time with my huge permanent smile that doesn’t change. I have been rejecting TV interviews about my work and different other projects for years even when my closest friends are producers and directors. Recently I have rejected being in an amazing French documentary about children’s diets around the world and I hate myself for that, only because I believe it can make a difference.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Child neglect/abuse (verbal abuse included) breaks my heart. Manners; being considerate and kind to others is super important to me, so any act opposite to that is a NO-NO in my book.
Which living person do you most admire?
I must say my dad, for the great father that he is. A wise saying someone told me a long time ago that “a parent’s job is to make life easier for their children” and I think my dad does just that as he is always very supportive, keeps an open mind; allowing us to express ourselves and find our own way, even if it means changing majors a thousand times or traveling across the globe for a degree and then changing our mind and doing something completely different. He is always very forgiving with an extremely kind heart, giving us a comfortable life and supporting our decisions, what more can someone want in a dad?
What is your greatest extravagance?
I hate shopping. I like ‘things’, but hate the process of going there, finding ‘it’ and buying ‘it’. Thank God I have a fashionista for a mother and she still buys my clothes and even my children’s needs for me. I do spend a lot on books, and there are times when our suitcases carry only books from country to country. My husband and all my children have the book gene in them and I believe they are even more extravagant than I am when it comes to that.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
To answer this question I had to ask my husband, my sisters, my brother, my childhood bestie, and two of my closest friends, they all agreed: I don’t have a “phrase” I’m known to use or overuse.
When were you happiest?
I’m at the peak of my happiness when I’m surrounded with children, not just my own, but children in general. I’m also at my utmost happiness when random people tell me I influenced the way they eat or the way they raise their children – total strangers tell me sweet things like that ALL THE TIME, not only does it make me happy, but I feel BLESSED as well.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Since I’m married to a fighter pilot, I must say I’m fascinated by being a pilot and sometimes daydream about it. There were times when I’d look at pictures of cockpits and memorize the checklist just for the fun of it. CRAZY and SO-NOT-ME since I’m the most bonded-to-nature person and that might shock my friends and family who tell me I’m the most peaceful person they know. A female version of top gun, with flying gear and all, going faster than the speed of sound, I must admit it’s COOL.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t celebrate my own achievements; I don’t even call them “achievements”. However, knowing that your work is recognized and appreciated is a wonderful feeling I get daily, doing what I do. To be part of a child’s life is like being a part of the future! I must say that is the greatest achievement anyone could dream of. My greatest achievement is yet to be achieved, and I work everyday of my life making it happen, everyday I’m just a little bit closer to my biggest achievement.
Where would you most like to live?
I’ve lived in many beautiful places throughout my life. I’ve lived near organic farms that delivered fresh goodness to my door and that is my idea of HEAVEN, had my dream kitchen with a huge window and a view, had the friendliest and kindest people in the world for neighbors, the most beautiful weather and daily morning jogs brightened my whole day. However, and no matter how cliché it sounds, I would most like to live in Kuwait. Allow me to share a short story. A few months ago while my son was living his dream life filled with the “funnest” activities and best of friends and everything a kid his age calls FUN, I asked him if he is missing Kuwait right now? He said mama I’m happy here it is so much fun but what I really miss is people who are the same color as me. I teared up a little when I heard that. MY PEOPLE, WHERE I BELONG, MY ROOTS these are magical words and nothing compares to them.
We love Kuwait is located on the Mezannine floor in AlMuthanna Complex in Kuwait City. For more information, please visit www.welovekuwait.com.