Our Community Feature for the Month of March
Hello friends, Happy Women’s Month! This is Iman, co-founder here at Co. It gives me great honour to introduce, probably, the most impressive community feature we’ve chosen to date. All our community features, since we started two years ago, are all inspirational no doubt! However, our spotlight this month, and you’ll have to pardon me in advance should I be politically incorrect, is simply one in a million. She is someone who makes me feel grateful, challenged, impressed, inspired, melancholic(yes!) all at the same time. Because while we as a community complain about myriad issues in the society, and as individuals tend to make excuses for procrastinating, and I personally are impatient with the smallest body pain, I had the pleasure of seeing in action and becoming friends with Ms. Leslie Pableo - a photojournalist, documentary photographer, PR person, and wheelchair-bound for almost two years.
My sister Luchie was the one who has been dealing with Leslie and her production company Reel Dunes since 2019. When I met Leslie only in 2021, I did not expect she’d be in a wheelchair. Why? Because she always sounded on the phone so… normal. She is so on-top-of-things. I thought that the wheelchair was just temporary but the next time I saw her a year later, she continued to be in a wheelchair. That meeting was with her as the director and producer of a video shoot which she was pitching for a major TV outlet. She managed the shoot with her team like a pro! I was so very impressed. She visited us in the opening of our café last month and so this time, we did the interviewing:
1. Tell us about your company and your role in it.
I am a freelance photojournalist working mostly for The National News newspaper. I am also managing partner at Reel Dunes Productions. We do film productions, TV commercials, PR and marketing.
2. You have been suffering from a spinal injury and are wheelchair-bound. How did it happen?
I have been wheelchair-bound since mid-2021. I have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and calsification of my spinal column. This means there’s bone growth on my spine which pinched my spinal cord. Plus it did not help that i am a photographer and I used to carry heavy camera equipment most of my life. I could say that I was not really taking care of my back/self when I was younger so when I hit the big 5-0 every disease on my back and joints just came out.
3. But you continue to work so hard, maybe even more than the average person, how do you do it?
I was depressed for a while because I was active most of my life, and then being limited to a wheelchair… that's a lot to swallow. But I find strength from my husband, family, friends and even from the company I am working in now. They encourage and trust me to do my passion… which is being a photographer.
4. What keeps you motivated?
That my disability does not define me. It also helps a lot that the UAE government encourages and supports people like me and empowers us so that we can achieve anything we set our minds into and we live with dignity. These keep me motivated.
5. What have you planned for the future?
This year, the back surgery and rehab. Maybe next year would be traveling around the world 😁
6. Words to both women and men who are going through a challenging period in their personal lives or their professional lives?
It's okay not to be okay, you can allow yourself that but after that pick up yourself. Talk to your family, friends and watch a lot of K-Dramas.
7. What are your favorite Co products?
I love their cookies so much, also the hot choco and choco bars. Also I really like the packaging.
Co Community Feature of the Month
What do they all have in common? The same values and love for honestly good chocolates while they too want our cacao farmers to prosper.
Those fun encounters with our customers that started with chocolates and food eventually led to interesting, and inspiring conversations. We discovered their passions through these exchanges and with our community growing bigger and more diverse each day, we figured it would just be awesome if we can inspire more people with fun and interesting features about our friends in the Co Chocolat Community.
Could you be our next featured member?