International Womens Day at Abbey Wood Lodge

11 March 2024

International Womens Day at Abbey Wood Lodge

As it was International Women’s Day last week, we wanted to celebrate all of the female residents, team, family members and friends of Abbey Wood Lodge.

While all of our female residents have faced adversity and have shown great ambition throughout their lives, today we want to recognise the achievements of Rafhat (Rafi) Minhas.

Rafi was born in 1946 in Kampala, Uganda. Her parents were from what is now Pakistan, which was under British rule at the time. They got married in Kenya, then moved to Uganda. While they lived there, they didn’t involve themselves very much in the Asian community, but instead, they immersed themselves more in the African culture. Rafi is the 5th of 6 girls and 1 boy in her family. Their parents were quite forward thinking at the time, and encouraged their daughters to work towards what they wanted to do, in both their lives and careers.

Rafi went to university in Sudan, studying agriculture. She wanted to go into agrichemistry. This is where she met her husband, who was teaching French in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Rafi and her husband moved to France, where Rafi worked as a secretary in Paris. Together, they had 2 children.

After Rafi and her husband divorced, Rafi moved to Leeds to take care of her mum, who had Alzheimer’s Disease. In her mid to late 40’s, she decided to go back to university to become a lawyer. She then moved to London to study to become a barrister. When she accomplished this, it was unfortunately very difficult for her to find a job. However, she persevered and ended up being involved in well known legal cases. One of her biggest accomplishments was working for the UN in Kosovo for 6 months in her early 50’s.

Another impressive achievement of Rafi’s is that she lived in many different countries throughout her life, and she used to be able to fluently speak 7 different languages, including English, French and Arabic.

Even though Rafi worked hard in her life to achieve her dreams, she also knows how to have fun! She loves music and dancing, and her daughter has fond memories of her dancing to anything from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson! Rafi was also a bit of a rebel. She shaved her head when she was younger, but then had to wear a wig to hide it from her parents!

Rafi’s hard working nature, her love of education and her love of travelling around the world is reflected in not only her two children, but also in her 5 grandchildren. Her oldest grandchild has recently moved from Japan to Italy to attend university!

We love having Rafi at Abbey Wood Lodge! Her smile can light up a room and her laugh is infectious! She definitely has lived life to the beat of her own drum, and we are grateful for her drive and determination. It is women like her that have paved the way for future generations of women!

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