How her near death experience inspired her to make a change for women
Social entrepreneur, co-founder of Albidayah centre and BeejewelB, Modia Batterjee has made it her life ambition to empower women and give them the control that they have a right to. With a doctorate in Health Administration and specialisation in lactation with over 10 years of experience, Modia has dedicated her life and skills to progressing the community by merging her passion with business to make a meaningful impact on the world.
Life-changing experiences are pervasive among entrepreneurs. For Modia, this was at the age of 19, where she had an accident that led to a near death experience. She recalls from memory that she was going through a tunnel and hearing laughter, until a being came to her and said “you must go back, you have work left to do” when her eyes suddenly opened. “That is when I came back to life.” This has been the driving factor of her career. “Being able to come to terms with this experience is what motivates me. I see my career as a life journey, not as a job."
Albidayah centre was founded as a way for women to be able to be in control of their bodies and breastfeeding was an excuse for this to happen without it being a taboo. In this, she provides information and supports women who are new mums. Modia believes that if a women is in control of her body, she has greater awareness of not only herself, but her child as well. “Our children are the future. An indescribable bond with a child can affect their future and how they bond with their own children”. She carries out various workshops to educate women on breast feeding and raise women’s awareness. “Saudi women for many years have been powerless in regards to themselves.” This is more than just teaching women how to breastfeed, it is an attempt on creating social change that gives women power over themselves.
However, trying to encourage social change always has its set-backs. The Saudi government doesn’t provide licensing for lactation centres yet. On top of that, “I get other lactation consultants who work for the government accuse me of using advocacy work to fuel my business.” This does not stop her from continuing to make a change within her community. One of her greatest achievements was partnering with Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ribbon for Human Awareness. This they accomplished twice, in 2010 and 2015.
Aside from the Al Bidayah centre, Modia runs a jewellery company, ‘Beejewel Boutique’, which sells necklaces and bracelets with stunning Bee pendants. The symbol of the Bee has much significance in Modia’s life. The Bee is a symbol of resilience and power and is another method she uses to empower women. For Modia, the Bees are fascinating in terms of how they all work together for nature to grow and how all Bees in a beehive are female. Modia wants women to be able to recreate this positive environment and be able to support each other to benefit from the #women4women movement which aims to promote supporting other women. “I want to get this concept out there, I want it to be global”.
She strongly believes in bringing other women up and the one piece of advice that she would give is “don’t focus on your obstacles, stay focused on your goals and they will happen.” If it wasn’t for her near death experience when she was 19, she would not be the inspirational person she is today who desires to make a change in the world for women. “I can’t sleep well if I didn’t do something in that day which benefitted society and I now know that when I pass away I know of the good place I can end up in so I will push myself to end up there.”
This Ramadan, let’s all take inspiration from Modia and better ourselves as individuals and empower one another. Ramadan, to Modia, is all about teaching yourself self-discipline so that you can be productive which goes back to the core purpose of BeejewlB, of being tough and self-aware. “Ramadan teaches us to be in tunes with ourselves to fuel our resilience."
Follow Modia @modiab