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Feeding Her Community Lal in Karimabad & Sam in Vancouver

Lal Shehzadi and Samantha Dobo live worlds apart, but they share a common characteristic. They both run small businesses to nourish their communities: Sam through her urban farm in on Canada's West Coast, and Lal at her food stand in northern Pakistan.

One Day, Two Lives is a storytelling project that compares and contrasts daily human experiences in Canada and in the countries where Aga Khan Foundation Canada works. Read on to learn about a day in the lives of Sam and Lal.

Lal Shehzadi Karimabad, Pakistan

Lal Shahzadi means “precious princess,” a name she was given by her father at birth.

  • Age: 38
  • Location: Karimabad, Gilgit-­Baltistan, Pakistan (see map)
  • Lives with: Her two sons and two daughters, and her husband, a retired soldier.
  • Profession: Lal is the owner of Hunza Food Pavilion, a stall serving local foods. She is a trained cook in organic foods and tries her best to use local, home­grown ingredients at her stall.
  • Greatest challenge: Working in a space dominated by men. Lal’s husband is unemployed, so Lal provides for the household.

Samantha Dobo Vancouver, Canada

“Samantha was [a name] that came to my mom in a dream.”

  • Age: 30
  • Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (map)
  • Lives with: Her partner, Xch'e', and their cat, Machete.
  • Profession: Sam is the co-owner of Tasty Greens, an urban farm that sells microgreens – nutrient-rich and flavourful small versions of full-grown vegetables.
  • Greatest challenge: Sam is currently healing from a type of cancer called Nodular Sclerosis Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cancer has brought about personal and business challenges, but Sam expresses gratitude for what the experience has taught her and the support her community has shown her.

Firewood and Fresh Food: Lal starts the day...

Lal starts her day at five a.m. by going to her local mosque for prayer.

When she returns home, Lal cuts firewood, and then wakes up her children. She says it can be a challenge, as they often don't want to get out of bed.

For breakfast, Lal prepares arzoq (fried bread), gaylin (a style of pancake), an omelette, butter, and salt tea. She also makes chapati (flat bread) that she will use at her food stall later in the day.

After breakfast, Lal's husband and children help her carry her products to her stand, a 10-minute walk down the hill from their home.

She says this is her favourite time of day: getting ready for her first customers in the morning.

Meditation and Microgreens: Sam starts the day...

Sam’s day starts with meditation, followed by smudging – a traditional First Nations ceremony that a close friend shared with her.

This ceremony is intended to help balance the body, mind, and spirit, and promotes healing.

Sam then proceeds with her daily health routine, which includes taking nutritional supplements, administering an enema, and sitting in an infrared sauna. After her health ritual, Sam heads to the greenhouse, where Tasty Greens grows 12 different types of microgreens.

"Microgreens... are like an immature plant. So, anywhere between, I’d say, six to 14 days after germination... [T]hey’re trimmed at this period in their life before their leaves transform into what they’ll actually look like. And so they’re just like this magical pod of nutrients and enzymes and they’re totally flavourful and aromatic. The restaurants here love them," Sam says.

Sam checks on the microgreens in different stages of their life cycles – whether they have just been planted...

...are germinating...

...or are ready to be harvested.

Sam co-owns Tasty Greens with her partner Xch'e'. They started the company together after years of tree planting: "We could live in a tent together... [so] we knew we could work together."

Self-described workaholics, Sam says they knew that starting a business together was the only way they would get to spend as much time together as they wanted. Sam was already growing the greens for her and Xch'e' – so she did a business program, and they scaled up production.

After checking on the crops, Sam sets out to deliver the harvest in a custom-made bicycle trailer. She also spends her afternoon tending to their beehives.

Back in Karimabad, Lal is getting greens ready for her customers, too.

She and her business partner, Chand Bibi also prepare burutz-shapik (cheese bread), using the chapati Lal made that morning...

...and a fresh noodle soup, locally known as doudo.

Lal started her business after attending an entrepreneurship training in Karimabad. Her idea was selected for award of 100,000 rupees (about $1,200) which she invested in the business.

This training and award were part of a program supported by Aga Khan Foundation Canada to promote economic empowerment for entrepreneurs – especially women – in this region in Pakistan.

In the afternoon, Lal hands over the food stall to her business partner, and then walks further downhill to her farmland, where she prunes apricot and walnut trees.

Both Sam and Lal spend a typical evening with their loved ones: family and friends.

Lal with her husband and three of her children.

In five years...

Lal dreams of more opportunities for women in her community and imagines a future where the Karimabad market is run by local women.

“I’d like to have a clean bill of health and I would like to have a kid or two. I’d like to move somewhere more rural and replicate our life – but in a deeper community way – and be of service more. And be less about hard deadlines and meeting requirements of living in the city.”

From an urban farm in East Vancouver to a food stand in the high mountain valleys of Pakistan... this is One Day, Two Lives.

One Day, Two Lives is a storytelling project that compares and contrasts daily human experiences in Canada and the countries where Aga Khan Foundation Canada works.

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One Day, Two Lives is brought to you by:

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Credits:

Caro Rolando, Danial Shah, Xch’e’ Hernandez Simper

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