She is the epitome of a kiwi-Iraqi living in New Zealand and making it.


Fadia Tomas, an immigrant, travelled thousands of kilometers to land on New Zealand soil 23 years ago looking for a blossoming life.


She says her first impression of New Zealand after landing was that of quietness. Of course, in Iraq, she says, shops open late into the night, so when she found out that everything was shut by 6pm, she was shocked.


Her story like many migrant Iraqis consists of struggles, trials and tribulations, but also of triumph, joy and successes. She says she knew she was set on making New Zealand home.


“We started from scratch, we didn’t turn back, Tomas says.


“Like for me, I came here and I was done. That’s me, that’s my country, I have to live with it. I have to love it in good times and bad, and we survived.”


Tomas moved with her newly wedded husband and gave birth to two girls, Rosie and Christina. Life was just beginning for the Iraqi couple, when Tomas began working as a florist in a local shop and began liking the work.


“We started from scratch, we didn’t turn back, Tomas says.

She says for the most part of living in New Zealand she loved it, breathing New Zealand’s fresh air and the delightful flowery perfumes. She worked with the people of the land, New Zealanders, and says has been wonderful.


“They’re really friendly, they really push you up. If they find you a hard worker, you can do things, they will push you up. They are supportive. They will help you up skill.”


She says New Zealand is an excellent place to raise children giving praise to the Catholic and secular schools in the region. When it comes to beautiful places in Aotearoa, she singled out Queenstown as her favorite holiday destination.


“Like when you go to Queenstown, that’s not New Zealand, it’s a different place. You see all the people alive, walking (and enjoying themselves). I love Waiheke too, but not like Queenstown.”



She now has a well-established floral business that caters for weddings and corporate events. But it wasn’t so big at the beginning. She started on her own, and slowly began to grow and employ people.


“I always follow my dream, and my dream is to be bigger and nicer. And when you want to do more things, you can’t do it by yourself. I have a big team, a beautiful team. [My staff] support me all the time.


She says every time Tomas and her team take on a wedding project, they come out feeling proud and accomplished.

She’s now known as ‘Fadia the florist’ among the Iraqi community. She’s probably been to almost every Iraqi wedding.


“I started to do weddings in 2002, twenty years ago. I’ve done a thousand Iraqi and other cultures’ (weddings) actually,” she laughs.


However, the journey for Tomas involved a lot of scarifies. Floral work is demanding with hours and hours spent working on an event to make it seamless and flawless, meaning there were many days when Tomas didn’t see her family like other mothers do. Nor go to social events on weekends.


“You don’t see your kids all the time. A lot of the time I don’t see them for days, only one hour.” But she says the thing that’s making her stay the course is her passion.


“I started to do weddings in 2002, twenty years ago. I’ve done a thousand Iraqi and other cultures’ (weddings) actually,” she laughs.

She says since moving to New Zealand life has been one big learning curve. She says it’s a challenge being a woman in business, who’s Arabic, who has a family. Middle Eastern people take care of their elderly and extended families, something Tomas says was an added thing to her already busy life.


“With our family am not only caring about my husband and my daughters. You have to take care of your father, your parents-in-law, your brothers and your sisters.”


But she says the last three years have even been tougher, seen with Covid-19 restrictions closing the doors of her business for a considerable period of time. It was “very tough”.


“You’re working so hard and see yourself going down and you have to be challenging yourself to be surviving and smiling, pushing all your family and staff at the same time.”


She says the industry has become more competitive and challenging with many events and weddings being cancelled at a moment’s notice either people were having to isolate with Covid-19 or having those country wide lockdowns.


There’s always silver lining though. Tomas joked about the time she had to hunker down wither family in 2020 when the pandemic fist hit.


“I loved it and that’s when I asked myself: what am I doing why am I working? What have I done? That’s why people see me maybe with a bit of success, am thankful, and it’s really nice, but sometimes I think I should stay home.”


Of course, that’s not what she did, Tomas was determined to get back on it again as soon as restrictions were lifted designing flowers for weddings, alongside her staff. Tomas operates Stylish Weddings and Events on Alice Road in Glenfield. She resides with her husband Ayad and her two girls Rosie and Christina on the Shore.


Watch other interviews on the Mina Amso Show on Youtube:






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March is Endometriosis Awareness month in New Zealand. Pokekohe resident Shannon Hadrup knew the pain of endometriosis and she came on the Mina Amso Show to share her story.


“For me the pain was right up there. It would be to the point at times where it was so bad, I’d feel like I did want to pass out or I did want to faint. Or I ‘d kind of come over with a cold sweat with the shakes and things because the pain was so great.”


Endometriosis symptoms began during Hadrups’ late teens. Now a mother of three, she tells Mina how the journey began.


It started with the usual symptoms of period pain, which Hadrup says needed extra pain relief. A lot of her symptoms she suffered were bowel and intestine-related.


You can watch FULL EPISODE HERE or LISTEN HERE


“There’s a lot of bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and bowel movement, which led me to go and see a GP. Then I went through various procedures to try and get to the bottom of it and find out I was having those sorts of symptoms on my bowel.”


The tests couldn’t find anything conclusive for endometriosis. Doctors diagnosed Hadrup with irritable bowel syndrome [IBS].


What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the tissue lining the pelvis and the intestines.

The endometriosis symptoms, which she thought was IBS, still progressed and Hadrup felt that there was more to it than the IBS diagnosis she was given by the doctors. They gave her medications that treated the diarrhoea and constipation and it helped a bit, but Hadrup felt like these symptoms would go on for months on end with no relief in sight. She felt something hadn’t yet been discovered.


“I was eating really well and I was following a really healthy diet and I didn’t I feel like I should be still getting these symptoms because I was trying to adhere to the irritable bowel syndrome guidelines.


“It was more than just pain. It was a feeling of awful discomfort that you just did not feel right in your stomach and abdomen area it’s a feeling that many women with endometriosis attest to.”

The pain and discomfort kept going for the now 41-year-old. She says the doctor she was seeing told her that they did all the tests they could possibly do and there was nothing more to find out. It was then when she changed doctors and things started to change.


“The [new doctor] has just been doing some reading on endometriosis which has been really timely for me.” Having read all her medical notes, the new doctor decided to try referring Hadrup to Fertility Associates at Ascot hospital.

You can watch FULL EPISODE HERE or LISTEN HERE


The doctors over there told her the only way a diagnosis would have been made was to have a laparoscopic surgery, a procedure where the surgeon gains access to the stomach via the belly button, without having to create a large incision to the skin.


The doctors also told her that she may wake up after surgery having had endometriosis [if any] removed. A long awaited good news for Hadrup.


“That was quite a lot of information to take in. That it’s not just about going and investigating but they could do what they need to do, so you had to give consent for all these things to happen. I really just had enough of struggling with what I felt was something else, so yeah let’s do it lets sign up for the surgery,” said Hadrup.


She knew the surgery was a success because when she woke up after the anaesthesia wore off, she felt bandages on her body and immediately knew. She thought ‘whatever the cause of discomfort and bother has finally been removed’. She knew they found something and that her recovery has begun.


“Most people might be thinking ‘oh no this is what it means’. But I had a strange feeling of like finally we’ve got there and now we can move on,” she said.

Her journey of suffering, enduring and overcoming this debilitating condition led Hadrup to pursue further studies in naturopathic medicine, in the hope of helping other women going through the same situation.


Shannon Hadrup now studies part time, works part time, and homeschools her kids.


You can watch FULL EPISODE HERE or LISTEN HERE

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This week on the show I had the privilege of speaking to Jo Weck. Jo appeared on the Bachelorette NZ last year in 2020. You might remember him being the top four dudes. And he was one of the first people Lexi Brown (The Bachelorrette) went on a date with and liked on the show.


We spoke about his time on the show, what’s it like being a bachelor, his accident on set, and fighting with over a dozen or so guys to win the heart of one lady.


He spoke of the challenges. Yes, they were many. The show itself felt like a bubble for some people. But Jo spoke about how he found it difficult not having control over how this particular relationship or dating experience was.


“For me, I’ve always had control of what’s going on in my life, being on that show it was a little bit difficult to dictate what you are doing day to day and the unknown and I think that made me step back a little bit and sort of let everything happen rather take control. And near the end I kind of was exhausted by the scenario" he said.


He thought Lexi is “an amazing girl” but there wasn’t that ‘spark’.

“I was attracted to her, she’s a beautiful girl, she was fun loving, she’s always a good time and that’s what she is, but for me, it was just not what I was looking for.”


The other challenge for Jo was getting that previous time with Lexi, to have those deep and meaningful conversations. But then when he did get the time, it wasn't enough and wasn't so natural with all the cameras pointing at him. He was not allowed to speak to Lexi if the cameras weren’t rolling.


“Sometimes you just lock face to face and you can’t see them [The cameras].


“It’s a little bazar, it’s not typically what you do when you’re trying to date someone in that scenario… it’s quite competitive”.


“The competitive side comes out as it does, and that’s probably why most of us were on that show, to be competitive, you can’t say you’re not.”

As if being on the show wasn’t hard enough for the bachelor, Jo had to deal with an injury from an accident on the ice-skating rank while on a group date with Lexi.


“I got a little of a break away, saw the goal, lined up, shot and heard this pop, snap and my knee came out of place. Hamish came to the rescue, slid into me a little bit, checked if I was okay and then it felt like I might be alright. So I got up and tried to hobble off, 'okay it’s not too serious' [he thought], carried on again and it happened again, and the damage was done, in the second time”.


The accident didn’t faze Jo off though. Thankfully he didn’t break a bone or anything, so, he carried on with the show but it was not the same.


“What I was bummed about was not being able to go on other dates. A lot of them were active, imagine if you’re trying to do bungy jumping, rock climbing, these were the dates that Hamish went on. And he did the Heli skiing. That was my dream date.”


“There was a rumour going on like someone is going on a helicopter date, then he came back and we were like ‘no way, what!’. But I was happy for him, but at the same time I was jealous. I was like awesome for you, bad for me.”


The dates were pre-planned, so no one really had control over where the Bachelorette and bachelors went.


The Home Visits


Jo was in the top four, alongside (winner) Hamish Boyt, chef Paul Patterson, and Aussie heartthrob Todd Dialectos.


And while Jo had the chance to introduce Lexi to his mother, and was confident that they would get along well, there was an interesting conversation that went down.


“You’ve always got to take someone else’s perspective and processes it and then analyse it and see what you can take out of it. And [his mother] said [Lexi] was a little bit cold on the left [where Jo was sitting during the home visit]. But previous to our conversation, I’d said to lexi … my family is really important to me it’s awesome to see when someone interested in is engaging in a conversation with them. But I think [Lexi] was just there talking to my friends and family rather than spending a lot of time with me.


So, was that the case? Or did she actually not like him?


“No, maybe she didn’t even like me,” he laughed.


“Yeah, we had a little bit of a conversation about it but in the same we had only so much [time].

Yeah, we like each other, this is nice, this could be something but you can’t have that conversation: ‘yes you’re the one’.”


“Two weeks means you’re winning; one week means you’re going home.”


Losing the connection


In terms of confidence, levels were high for Jo at the start, but then things started to dwindle when more and more guys started going on dates with the bachelorette. The more guys started to show up, the more stressful it started to be for Jo.


“It’s tough.”

“In a scenario when your attention is drawn towards one person, and that one person is going on dates with other people. In the real world you say ‘hey, are you into me or not?’, but in that scenario you have to be open minded and step back and just say ‘okay’ give her the opportunity, because that is what you are here for, you have to put yourself back in the scenario of being on a reality TV show with one female, and 16 guys, it was tough.”


It was really hard for Jo not seeing Lexi, sometimes for two weeks on the show. He says that made him lose interest, like in the real world, where if you stop seeing someone after that first date or two, then things start to get a bit cold.


On having his best friend, Hamish Boyt on the show at the same time


Despite the rivalry, the two friends got on really well on and off camera. Jo says it was great having a friend to talk to about what’s going on, the feelings and when things were getting tough.


The besties didn’t realise they were both going on the same show until they were actually in the airport boarding their flight to Auckland.


“Inside the house it was awesome having him there, it was awesome having a friend I can actually talk with him, off screen, like when the cameras are away. [Tell him] this is how I feel. How are you feeling, if he was feeling a little bit down I was like yep actually you are a contender you should stay here. Think about it like this, her side of the story and then he’d comfort me if I was feeling kind of out of place a little bit.


“And the day I decided to leave I said to Lexi, look choose Hamish he is a better match for you than Todd”.

Advice from the man himself: “Make the most of the date and make her feel amazing”.


There is a good little philosophy that Jo lives by, and that’s got to do with his little dog, Matariki.


“When you get home, your pets are so happy to see you especially your dogs so let’s bring that approach when you see your friends, when you see your loved one, when you go on a date. Like get up and give them a big hug, say hi, be energetic about it.


“When you’re on a date go for a walk, that way you’re doing something active, that way you’re doing something beautiful”.


 









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