Hope & kindness
(with a dash of resilience)
In 1970s Yorkshire, Nurse Motia Wadhawan loved nothing more, than cooking large meals to share with newcomers to the area. Gathering in the local community centre, recent arrivals from India were given a taste of home and helped to feel welcome.
This reflected Motia’s mantra of ‘kindness and hope’. She knew what it was like to leave her home, to struggle and to battle for a better life.
Born in 1940, in what became Pakistan, some of her earliest memories were of running through sugar cane fields with friends. But Partition forced Motia’s family to flee to Indian Punjab when she was just seven, leaving their home in the middle of the night.
Childhood in a rural village in India was far from carefree. Her father worked in agriculture and struggled to provide for Motia and her 11 siblings. She was surrounded by poverty and there was little educational opportunity – especially for girls. When an accident injured one of her eyes, she was unable get treatment – girls were simply not the priority so the money wasn’t spent. She was left blind in one eye and wondering why girls should be treated so differently from their brothers.