Some stories make the biggest impact on you, they show you the strength and power of human beings. Danielle Wilson Naqvi's story is one of them. Danielle is a founder of a successful PR agency called CS PR Group, she has also started a charity organization with her husband, called the ZB foundation, with the aim to send MS Machines (New Born screening machines) to every hospital in Pakistan so that every new born baby can have a heel prick test. This was one of the most inspirational stories that we have ever heard, learn more about the drastic changes in Danielle's life within the past year.
Where are you from?
When did you move to Dubai? How did you end up in Dubai?
I’ve been here for 18 years. My dad brought me over here 18 years ago and I never left. I stayed with him for 10 years and then I got married and started a family here.
How many kids do you have?
I have one daughter who is 10 months old called Amara Beau, and I have two on the way due in March 2013.
What do you like best about being a mom in the UAE?
I don’t think it’s about being a mum in the UAE. I think it’s about being a mum in general. I just think it’s so rewarding. I love looking at my daughter she makes my day, she makes my world complete. Her smile, the way her daddy looks at her, the way she looks at her daddy, the way she looks at me and seeing her grow, it just makes the world a better place.
Is there anything in particular that you like about living in the UAE?
I love the weather especially during the cooler months as we can go out to the park and play in the garden. I like the fact that there are always events happening here. She is slightly young to enjoy everything that is going on around Dubai, but im sure when she is older it will be fantastic.
What is the most challenging factor of being a mum in the UAE?
My daughter misses out on being with her grandparents, her aunties, her uncle and her cousins. But we are very fortunate to have a huge social network here so there are always people here to help us and to spend quality time with. But I would love for her to be with her grandparents more.
Tell us more about your company, CS PR Group?
I started CS PR Group about five years ago. It focuses on females in business and female brands. So we launched lots of new brands either owned by women or for the everyday woman. I have to have a connection with all my clients/brands, because if I have a connection it makes it a lot more easier to work with them for the simple fact that if you believe in what they do and their products it’s very easy to talk about them.
What is unique about CS PR Group? Why are you focusing on female entrepreneurs only?
I do lose a lot of clients because of focusing on female entrepreneurs only. But it is something I am passionate about, and I think that it is good to work with a company that has a niche. So if I launch a female celebrity, for example, I know the people to speak to, I know how to market her. If it’s a fashion designer, I know who to speak to. I don’t send out a mass press release and expect miricles!
Can you mention a couple of your clients?
When I first started CSPR Group I launched the talented designer Aiisha Ramadan – www.aiisha.com and Virgin radio presenter/Celebrity Simone Heng. www.simoneheng.com I like to work with personalities, I am currently working with Miss World – Jessica Kahawaty and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem – the face of Lancome World Wide. I am also working with the most fantastic brand www.babysouk.com which is an online boutique for everything baby. I love the brands ethos and what they have planned for the future. I have launched many fashion labels and boutiques such as Mon Atelier Boutique Jumeriah’s hidden gem.
How big is your team?
There are 3 of us.
Where did you work before?
I was Head of Marketing for ITP publishing for 5 years. So I launched all their magazines, especially female titles. I loved working at ITP but I needed a change, so set up my own business.
What is the difference between being an employee and having your own business?
I prefer having my own business. It’s very flexible, I love being in control, being able to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. There are also no boundaries when it comes to being creative. But the downside is that you have to make sure you work very hard to get paid, but it’s also very rewarding. When a client thanks you for all the hard work you did, it’s very rewarding. I get a lot of pleasure out of it. I do miss out on the brainstorming sessions of the corporate world and the day to day activities.
Tell us about your charity organization, The ZB Foundation www.thezbfoundation.com?
My husband and I started The ZB Foundation a couple of weeks ago. In February 2012, we lost our first daughter; she died at four months old, her name was Zahra Beau. She spent 16 days in ICU in Dubai at the Welcare Hospital. She had a very rare form of metabolic disorder called Glutaric Academia Type 2. We adopted her from Pakistan at birth, in Pakistan babies do not receive what is called “A New Born Screening Test” (a Heel Prick test) at birth. In the west, every baby that is born has a HP test, it checks for about 30 different diseases. It basically checks if there are any abnormalities in the baby. It’s such a simple test, once the baby is born, they prick the babies heel, they put the blood on to card and put it through an MS machine to get the results.
We were not able to do this test in Pakistan and actually didn’t really know much about the test either, we researched all the possible illnesses she could have/get and had her checked out a couple of times while in Pakistan.
At two weeks old we returned back to Dubai and went to see a DR who informed us about the heel prick test, but he never managed to give her one.
Everything seemed normal and the Dr had given us the all clear, however at about 2 months old she started to deteriorate in the December, as a mother you just know when there’s something not right with your child.
To cut a very sad story short, Zahra Beau spent 16 days in ICU and after many tests the drs realised she had a form of Metabolic Disorder, by then it was too late as she had detoriated rapidly.
My husband and I were heartbroken as the baby we wanted for so many years was right here yet we couldn’t do anything to save her. She died at 4 months old in February 2012. Our world had ended, our angel was no longer with us, we were totally devastated. If only we had the heel prick test, if only the Dr had realised sooner. I researched her illness and if treated, she would be alive.
People kept telling us that with time we will understand why our angel came to us but left so soon. I still don’t understand, but my husband and I reliased we had to do something to honour her name and the fight she endured in her short life. We decided there has to be a reason she came into our lives and we had to help her legacy go on. In her name, we set up a foundation in Pakistan called The ZB Foundation www.thezbfoundation.com with the aim to send MS Machines (New Born screening machines) to every hospital in Pakistan so as a new born baby can have a heel prick test.
It is going to be very challenging and will take a long time, but we are just about to get out first machine. We will send it to Pakistan and we will train someone on how to use it, then we will encourage doctors to perform the tests on all babies born in the hospital. It will save many babies as it will show abnormalities and it is up to the doctors to take the next step.
Her disease was very rare, but I have seen stories of people online who have had children with the same disease who have survived as the doctors detected the disease in time.
The blood spot screening test also helps to identify a range of health conditions, including:
• Sickle cell disease: an inherited blood disorder. Treating babies will help prevent serious illness.
• Cystic fibrosis: a life-limiting inherited disorder that affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system.
• Phenylketonuria (PKU): a very rare condition that can cause mental disability (but is treatable once diagnosed).
• Congenital hypothyroidism: another rare condition that can lead to impaired growth and mental development. Treated babies can develop normally.
• Medium-chain acyl Co-A dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD): a rare, but potentially life-threatening inherited disorder, where fat cannot be broken down by the body as well as usual. Babies with MCADD develop normally, but recognising the condition early enables parents to make sure they eat regularly and avoid serious illness.
How does The ZB foundation work?
We are going to be raising money in Dubai and Pakistan. Our details are on the website www.thezbfoundation.com and anyone who wants to support this organization, can email us. Maybe they can donate funds to help buy a machine, Maybe they know Drs in Pakistan who can get behind the charity, even help with shipping etc. Every little helps.
We just set up the foundation and bank account in Pakistan. Every unit we get into a hospital, we want it to say it’s from the ZB foundation. We will be very transparent so people know how their kind donations have been spent.
This is not something that I thought I would be doing, but I have to honour my daughter and save other babies from going through this. Every day we miss her deeply, having a charity in her name, makes us feel close to her and doing something positive instead of crying and blaming people for the death of our baby.
So now it’s all about getting the word out and making people aware of the charity and our vision.
There are a lot of well to do Pakistanis in Dubai, they all know someone who could support us. It is still a 3rd world country so it will be a huge challenge so contacts and support will help us greatly.
For Doctors in Dubai – I need to get my hands on the MS Machines. Either new or second hand, yet in good working order. We need enough machines for every hospital in Pakistan, starting with hospitals in the north.
What is your advice for families who want to adopt babies?
When it comes to adoption, I would say get all your paperwork done in advance and approved by The Hague Convention (Worldwide organisation) http://www.hcch.net Dr. Raymond Hamden at the Human Institute in Knowledge Village, Dubai will help you with everything you need to know. http://www.hridubai.com/
How do you manage your personal and professional lives?
My daughter is such a good girl and is only 10 months old, so she is either in the office with me or at home when I’m at meetings, it just seems to work. I like to spend afternoons with her where she can socialise with her friends. I don’t know how it will work when the twins come along – 3 children under 1 will be a handful but we are ready for the challenge and feel blessed to be in this situation!
Who inspires you the most?
My husband is very inspirational to me. He is very positive, always sees the best in people. If I’m feeling low, he always picks me up. He is very spiritual, so it really helped us deal with Zahra’s death and moving forward.
How do you relax as a mother?
Spending time with my husband and daughter, I just enjoy being with my family. We love travelling, so we do try to travel a lot and she comes with us. We took her to Europe when she was 3 months old, and to the Maldives in the summer. She was so young, it was easy. Again, everything will change when we have three babies, but we will make it work.
Do you have a support group?
I have some great friends here. I have my best friend whom we have known for about 15 years. She has 3 children, who are my godchildren. Amara is her godchild. We are fortunate to have a great social network as most of our friends have kids, but we still miss our parents not being here.
What is one advice you would like to give to our readers?
Don’t complain- Enjoy every day for what it is. I went through a big change in my life, from having a child to losing a child and then to having a child again. We have wanted kids for so long, we never complain when she wakes up at night, we just enjoy the moments and don’t take them for granted.
This was truly an Inspirational interview with Danielle Wilson Naqvi, founder of CS PR Group and The ZB foundation.
Following is the details to be in touch with her: