Living my dream

Mahima Qureshi, 19, from Newcastle was involved in the planning of Keyfunds Winter Extravaganza, a National Lottery-funded project which received £106,200 in 2006. The skills and confidence Mahima developed encouraged her to  follow her dream of becoming a henna artist. She has set up her own enterprise and on some weekends has a stall in the Metro Centre.

It all started when I joined Keyfund (now The Key) on a residential for young people with the purpose of organising a big event for other local young people. We decided to hold a concert in Newcastle City Hall, which was generously funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

After months of commitment, problem solving and careful planning, we recruited performers such as Ruff Diamonds, Silvar, Etta Smith and our headlining act Joe McElderry. The concert was a ‘sell out success’ and an AMAZING experience.

Tattoo art on a woamn's backOrganising this event gave me the confidence to do more and inspired me to take every opportunity that was presented to me, which leads me to where I am right now – a 19 year old henna tattoo artist. But I’m not an average traditional henna artist. I wanted to stand out from the crowd. I wanted to be known for doing henna but with a twist, using the body as my canvas to do what I can, to go where the henna cone takes me.

I’d been practising henna since I was 11 years old, but the confidence gained from volunteering with The Key is what has made me who I am today. Using friends and fellow pupils as testers, I’ve turned my passion in to a business and a career, living my dream, performing at shopping centres, events, parties and festivals across the North East.

My work and story had been recognised and I was given the chance to appear in a film, Ambition Lab, documenting my life and my passion with henna art. Soon enough I was watching myself and other young entrepreneurs on a cinema screen at Tyneside Cinema, reflecting on how far I had come.

Through Ambition Lab, I’ve been able to inspire other young people to follow their dreams and make the most of their unique potential. I hope to continue to grow both personally and professionally but most importantly, I want to continue to inspire others to grasp the opportunities around them. If I’d never grabbed the opportunity available through The Key I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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