November 09 - 15 , 2007


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Sugu Anjarwalla's philosophy
was ‘always others before self’

Founder Trustee of Noor-e-Islam
Trust AND OF The Elimu Foundation

Coastweek - - Sugra Anjarwalla, or Sugu as she was best known, died in London, England on Tuesday 23rd October.

'Happy days and bygone days are never lost
'In truth they grow more wonderful
'Within the heart that keeps them'.
Poem by Sugu Anjarwalla, 1972

For the last three years of her life she battled bravely with cancer.

A passion for life, an absolute faith in religion and inspired tenacity coupled with abiding humility, were the hallmarks of her personality.

They defined and explained her substantial achievements and were as much in evidence during her illness as ever before.

Half a century of life must seem a life not yet fully lived.

Coastweek - - Sugra Anjarwalla

Yet, what Sugu experienced and achieved across a range of disciplines and interests, how she helped and inspired so many, must shut the door on regrets and allow only a celebration of life.

Regrets would not be on her agenda, for she would have had no time for such indulgent emotions.

In a time when many women were forced to elect between a career in the workplace or being a home maker, Sugu managed, with consummate flair, the competing demands of being a wife and mother, a businesswoman of acumen and a passionate social worker and philanthropist.

Sugu was a member of Association of Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) since 1983 and served as Chairman of the Polio Clinic (now known as the APDK Rehabilitation Clinic) for many years, undertaking substantial fund raising activities for the APDK.

During her time as Chairman, Sugu was instrumental in the building and renovations of the improved clinic which exists today.

The 60-bed clinic houses and rehabilitates children from the very young to teenagers, and includes a school for those with long term rehabilitation programs.

It was her vision and drive which made this project a reality.

Over the last decade Sugu was a Director on the Board of The Aga Khan Education Service, Kenya and The Madrassa Resource Centre.

She remained a Director for an unprecedented three terms after they refused her resignation at the start of her illness.

Sugu played a key role in the budgeting, marketing and curriculum aspects of the new 'Centre of Excellence' Aga Khan Academy, which was the first of its kind in Mombasa.

Having met both His Highness and His daughter on several occasions, His Highness had once described Sugu as being a 'live wire'.

Sugu was also a Founder Trustee of Noor-e-Islam Trust and a Founder Member of The Elimu Foundation.

Over the past 15 years her work for the Noor-e-Islam trust has helped hundreds of people with educational and medical assistance.

More recently however, The Elimu Foundation was a cause closest to Sugu's heart.

Founded in 1998 jointly with a number of friends from Kenya and abroad, The Elimu Foundation was created with the aim of improving educational facilities for the poor and under-privileged in Kenya and principally at the coast.

The substantial accomplishments of The Elimu Foundation perhaps best illustrate what Sugu was capable of.

With characteristic drive, single minded dedication and working as part of an inspired team, she raised funds both in Kenya and abroad and then put the funds to good use to help the poor.

To date, The Elimu Foundation has renovated three slum schools in some of the poorest areas in the coast, with the projects sizes totaling 30 million and affecting the lives of over 2000 children.

Incredibly, her work for The Elimu Foundation continued even from her hospital bed, during even the particularly difficult periods of her illness.

Sugu had moved to England quite suddenly from Tanga, Tanzania, soon after Nyerere's Ujamaa experiment in Tanzania had ruined her family's substantial business interests, mainly in agriculture, in Tanzania.

This was the time of Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and Diana Ross and Sugu, who loved music and had a substantial collection of records and watched a number of her favourite artists live in concert through her teens, including The Beatles.

She became a self-taught photographer of some brilliance and, had she wanted to, had the talent to make a career of photography.

Her degree in Human Geography and Economics, no doubt an attempt to help Sugu answer how both she and Tanzania had ended up where they were, formed the intellectual bedrock for Sugu's life back in East Africa, after she married Salim and moved to Kenya.

With her husband, she traveled widely and was open to and keen to understand a wide range of cultures.

She joined his family business and dedicated her talent to building a loyal and motivated sales force and creating brand awareness of the company's product range.

Her efforts in this field were pioneering in the East African context, helping to make brands such as 'Dove' and 'Tena' household names.

She was able to form relationships based on trust, commitment and mutual understanding with her business partners, customers and employees, just as with her colleagues and compatriots in her social work.

Her 'others before self' attitude was apparent in all aspects of her life.

Sugu is survived by Salim and her three children Nurain, who is studying to be an Architect at the University of Manchester, Khalil who is completing his Masters in Engineering at the University of Oxford and Nadeem who is completing his degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics also at the University of Oxford.

Shakila Mamujee, Mombasa.




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