Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Biche girl sees the world

‘A privilege’: Safia Hosein


 

As a child growing up in Biche, Safia Hosein wanted to travel the world. She dreamed of flying across the oceans and over mountains to unimaginable destinations.

Hosein not only ­realised her dream of seeing the world, but became one of the few female pilots in Trinidad and Tobago.

Her favourite word is “livsnjutare”, which in Swedish means someone who loves life deeply and lives it to the ­extreme.

Hosein's achievement was highlighted by Mayaro MP Rushton Paray in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Paray said the woman grew up in Biche and chose to follow her dreams.

He congratulated Hosein for her determination.

Hosein wrote an article on her journey from her family's “old house” in Biche to the skies of the United Arab Emirates, where she works as a helicopter pilot.

The article was posted on Travelettes, an online site where female travellers share their travel stories.

Travelling back as far as she can remember, Hosein recalled her childhood days living in a “higgledy piggledy little house” her father built while the “nice” house was under construction.

 

‘Helicopters

sang my name'

 

It was at age 16, Hosein said, she decided she wanted to be a pilot.

“Why a pilot? I don't know. Maybe I hit my head really hard the first time I fell. After two years of very convincing arguments, my parents finally agreed.

“I started off flying airplanes, but soon felt I was born to do something else. Heli­copters sang my name. I had never flown one, but my heart leapt at the very sight. I went on to ­become a helicopter ­pilot and landed my first job when I was 20,” she wrote.

In secondary school, her favourite subject was geography, learning about the world.

Then she wanted to see it—the countries, volcanoes, what the earth was made up of.

And after six years of working in Trinidad, Hosein said, she decided to quit her job and travelled halfway around the world to Doha, Qatar.

“Why Qatar? Well, it was where the only company that responded to my application was based. At that time, the Middle East was one of the few places that was hiring helicopter pilots. And yet, two other companies that I applied to in different Middle Eastern countries did not even respond to my application. I was told later they both would not hire a woman. So, to say the least, I was grateful for the job opportunity in Doha—I really was,” she said.

Yes, you can too!

 

Hosein travelled to 35 countries in her journey: skydiving in Australia, snorkelling in Slfra, Iceland, hiking to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and hiking to Kjeragbolten and Trolltunga in Norway.

Five years ago, Hosein left Qatar and moved to the United Arab Emirates. For about four and a half of those five years, she was the only female pilot in the unit where she worked.

“I am, to this day, still astonished when pilots with 20-plus years of experience say to me ‘you are the first woman I've ever flown with'. It's a privilege I don't take for granted.

“Being a female ­pilot in the Middle East sounds more difficult than it actually is. I have been welcomed by the local people with open arms and hearts.

“One of the main reasons I live here is the easy access to travel. It's great to be able to live and work somewhere where you can get on an airplane to anywhere in the world anytime you feel like it.

“I was able to visit my 35th country on my 34th birthday. Exploring, discovering and experiencing somewhere new made the day all the more special,” she said.

Hosein said she recently became a mentor with The New York University, Abu Dhabi campus, and was thrilled at how many young women were attending from all over the world.

“The saying goes ‘do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life'—well, I am one of the lucky ones. While there are days where it feels ­tedious and repetitive, I just have to look out my office window at the view, whether it's the rolling sand dunes, the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf or the spectacular cityscapes, and it brings me joy. Me, the kid that tried to skydive out a window, does this for a living. And if I can do it, maybe you can do it, too!” she said.