Najwa’s Story – Passing Hope Along

Najwa always looks put together. Her makeup, hair, and nails are always absolutely on point (Najwa is known for her glamorously bejeweled nails!), and her clothes coordinate, right down to her shoes and belts. You can already see the attention to clothing and hair in the photo of Najwa as a little girl – and you would never imagine that between then and now, and not so very many years ago, Najwa was living on the streets and battling substance use.

What you also might not realize is how important Najwa’s appearance is to her work. It’s visible, tangible proof of how it’s possible to come back from homelessness, get sober, get a college education and a professional job, and fully rejoin society. Najwa says that one of the most significant things she can do is to pass on the hope that was given to her when she was in the position that her clients are in now. She brings to the job lived experience of homelessness and addiction recovery and considers herself part of the population that Friends In Deed serves.

In spite of – or perhaps because of – the fact that Najwa had a difficult childhood (her mother was in prison and her grandmother raised her and her three sisters for as long as she was able, after which the children went into foster care), family is incredibly important to Najwa. She has 7 children and 23 grandchildren! Again, she is proof that incredibly strong family ties can exist and flourish, even when life’s hardships threaten to fracture them.

Najwa brings that sense of family into her professional life. She compares Friends In Deed to a family, where everyone is part of the team and nobody is judged for their background or level of education. She says she hopes to continue working at FID for a very long time!

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