Interview with Zahabiya Karimi

What is your name and where do you live?

Zahabiya Karimi and I live in Sawston, Cambridge.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Karachi, Pakistan, and I moved to Cambridge from London after I got married as my husband was based in Cambridge doing his PhD. I have worked in the charity sector my entire career. I have done relief work and programmes in the field in Pakistan, worked on poverty alleviation across the majority of the developing world, and worked to help families in war and conflict zones such as Syria, Palestine, Yemen and others. I come from a big, loving family, and I had my first child, a son Mikael Jude, on New Years Eve last year. This is my first month back after a wonderful maternity leave.

What is your role at 


Why did you get involved with

Working with a small charity means you can have a very direct and real impact with the people you are serving. You are able to see the change you are creating in their lives, and you can create that change based on the needs of the people; changes that can evolve faster than if you are part of a much larger organisation. This is empowering, motivating and the reason I joined the sector to start with — so getting involved with, and continuing to work with it has been a very easy and rewarding choice. 

How did you hear about

My husband’s former PhD supervisor is one of the charity’s Co-Founders, and so I have followed his work and got to know the charity well through him.

What has your experience been like with 

I joined the charity when it was at a crossroads, and so have been very grateful to have been able to take it to a place where we can do more for those affected by Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM). Working with a fantastic team of trustees and volunteers, we have been able to bring some exciting projects forward, achieve some key milestones, such as the new website, and build the organisation’s internal structure and foundation in a way that we can springboard ourselves to a brighter future. Working for is the privilege of a lifetime, and I enjoy every minute!

What do you do when you are not working at

A lot of my time since I’ve had my baby boy is now spent enjoying some quality time with him and my husband, my little family, as I adapt to being a working parent. I recently moved to a new home, so I also spend time setting up the house and am becoming a gardener. Weekends are spent hosting or visiting family members and friends. My husband and I definitely need Netflix, even if it’s just for a few minutes, very regularly to unwind from the day (especially as we wake up multiple times in the night with the baby!)

What do you do during your spare time?

In general, I enjoy reading, cooking lots, traveling and exploring different places and hidden gems. I’m quite an extrovert so am often busy meeting and hosting friends and family (remember, my big Asian family means more cousins than I can count, so there’s always something going on!). Lately though, as I have embraced my new role as a mum, so much of my time is spent playing peekaboo or clearing up toys about a hundred times a day. I have also been navigating how my old life can fit into my new one!

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself. Please comment below which one you think is the lie! 🙂
  • I have been caught in heavy shooting crossfire between gangs with children and volunteers under my care at the age of 24.
  • I’m part of triplet siblings — fraternal sisters, and we definitely have a bond where we are connected no matter where we are. 
  • I gave birth to the last baby born in Cambridge for the year 2021.