Panthers Of ISKL #52 – Sara M. – The Florista Mom

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Panthers of ISKL Sara M

This week, we met up with current parent Sara M., a very active member of our ISKL community!

Originally from Pakistan, Sara has lived in Lahore, London, Johannesburg, Jakarta before coming to Kuala Lumpur (KL). Her husband Nauman serves on the ISKL board, and their children, Ayesha (G10), Haider (G6) & Noor (PS), have been at ISKL since August 2019.

Apart from being a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) committee chair, room parent, and Girl Scout parent volunteer, Sara is well known in our community for organizing floral workshops for parents and staff during the Movement Control Order (MCO). She is a Floral Designer by passion and a Corporate Trainer by profession – combining the two to create enriching floral experiences for friends and clients worldwide.

Sara also runs a skills development initiative where she trains community members such as gardeners and security guards to create beautiful organic floral products sold, resulting in enhanced income for these communities.

Here is her story.

“My grandmother was one of the pioneers for Horticulture and floral designing in Pakistan, and as her first grand-child, I was exposed to the love for nature and this fantastic art-form from a very young age.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are going for nature-walks in the stunning Himalayas mountains in Pakistan, collecting wildflowers, and creating floral designs with my mother and grandmother.  Since I have personally experienced the joy flowers can bring to a home, I am on a mission to spread this joy and inspire others to celebrate nature’s beauty through flowers.

‘Malaysia is a paradise for tropical flower lovers!  I love working with an abundance of tropical flowers, most notably a vast selection of orchids and heliconia.  More than the flowers, the tropical foliage or leaves bring me immense joy as I can create designs and teach others to do the same without buying expensive flowers.  I often get messages from ISKL parents who have attended my workshops saying they were out on a walk, picked leaves from the roadside, and were able to create designs for their home!  Messages like these bring me immense satisfaction!

HANDY TIPS ON FLOWERS: The most important tip for taking care of your flowers is to hydrate them properly as soon as you bring them home. The first step is to remove all packaging, then re-cut each stem at an angle to maximize water uptake and to immediately place them in fresh, clean water.  The biggest mistake is to put flowers in water without cutting them, as this doesn’t necessarily hydrate them as air bubbles often block up the stem ends.

“When the first MCO was imposed, I felt a need to reach out to the ISKL community and send some PAWsitive vibes. What better way to do it than by sending a box of gorgeous fresh flowers and connecting via Zoom to create stunning floral designs with the community! Being a third-generation floral enthusiast, I have truly experienced the power of flowers’ and used this to rejuvenate, empower and create memorable moments.

‘The entire philosophy behind my floral workshops is to empower people to arrange flowers using the materials they have at hand and to enjoy the process.  Unless you are entering a floral design competition, the only rule is to hydrate your flowers and enjoy working with them.  Letting nature be your inspiration and letting the natural angles of flowers, foliage, and plant material to govern the process of creating designs is the easiest and most rewarding way to start.

‘Since the first virtual workshop in April last year, the response has been fantastic! I have conducted eight more sessions with many of the wonderful community and delivered ”happiness” through flowers to over 100 ISKL homes!

‘I also had the opportunity to connect with ISKL staff, conducting virtual workshops for the Advancement and Admissions teams. It has been a pleasure to work and interact meaningfully with staff who work behind the scenes. The vibes at these workshops were fantastic, and as a corporate trainer, it gave me valuable insight into how happy, empowered, and motivated ISKL staff members are.

‘I am also PTA committee chair this year for International Fest, which is my absolute favorite event in the school year. I am not sure how restricted we will be due to COVID-19, but I am hopeful that we will be able to showcase our cultural diversity through this fantastic event in a meaningful way.

‘My most memorable moment at ISKL was when my three children were the flag bearers for our home country Pakistan at the IFest in 2019. All three kids were born in different countries, and we have lived on three continents. The IFest is such a beautiful way of celebrating our identity and showcasing the best of who we are. The parade music, flags, delicious food, gorgeous costumes, and festive vibe on the day are undoubtedly an absolute personal favorite, and I hope we can bring this event to our community again this year.

‘My biggest advice for new parents would be to get actively involved in the school community to make your transition easier. It is also fantastic for our children to see their parents endorsing their school. I have been a room parent for my children’s classes for the last 11 years (often for two children in the same year). It has been such an enriching experience for me to be involved in my childrens’ education in a meaningful way. Planning class parties, doing floral activities in my children’s classrooms, or reading activities in class are some treasured memories from volunteering extensively in school.

‘My children are all actively involved with the school beyond academics. Ayesha is an avid debater and runs a language club. Haider is a passionate environmentalist and leads by example to stop plastic bottle usage by campaigning to hotels. Our youngest Noor is a Girl Scout and a proud philanthropist sharing her ‘Fresh Fruit Friday’ stories with her classroom and beyond.

‘’Fresh Fruit Fridays’ is a recent initiative my kids and I started in our community to bring fruity goodness to those less fortunate. The inspiration came from my work as a Robin Hood Army volunteer, a zero funds volunteer organization active in 10 countries that aim to stop food wastage and feed the hungry.

‘Through recent food drives and my interaction with construction workers, refugees, and orphanages, I realized the joy ”fresh fruit” brings to these communities. It is a luxury for them and something they can’t easily afford. We started the ”Fresh Fruit Friday’ initiative in our neighborhood – placing a basket outside our home every Friday and inviting our neighbors to drop in any extra fruit they may have. We distribute our collection to cleaners, gardeners, and construction workers.

‘This is my kids ‘own’ initiative, and they often walk around our neighborhood collecting fruit and helping with the distribution.

‘I have had a wonderful experience as an ISKL parent and am #ISKLproud to be part of this vibrant community! With one child each in Elementary, Middle, and High School, we are truly ingrained in the community, experiencing the school at all levels!”

What does ‘Be All You Are’ mean to you?

”’Be All You Are’ truly resonates with me as it is personalized to each individual. I often tell my children that each of us is gifted and has tremendous potential- the key is to unleash that potential. ”Be All You Are” does precisely that! It encourages us to delve within ourselves to discover what motivates us, what inspires us, what propels us, and channel it into achieving all we can, sharing all we can, doing all we can.

‘For me, the motto takes on a ‘fast forward’ mode in an expatriate setting where we move countries every three to four years as there’s no time to waste. I want to ‘Be All I Can’ in KL before we embark on a new adventure!”

As an avid flower lover, I love working with all flowers, but a few personal favorites are proteas, calla lilies, tulips, and orchids.

Do you know a student, faculty, staff, or alumni with a story to tell? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions to [email protected]!

To find out more inspiring stories of our students, read about Haider the environmentalist or Jane our parent ‘ambassador!’