Mother and daughter: Lucy Makina and Eppie Kusada
Lucy, 38, is a chartered quantity surveyor and mother to Kuzi, 7
“We moved from Zimbabwe to England when I was young and, being the eldest of four children, I often felt pressure to be perfect. But although I thought my mother was harder on me than on my sister and two brothers, I never once doubted that she loved me, and I knew that I could always rely on her no matter what.
“Seven years ago, I went into labour at just 24 weeks’ gestation – the doctors didn’t know why it happened so early. My daughter, Kuzi, was born weighing only 520g and doctors didn’t expect her to survive. It was a real roller coaster of emotions, but Mum was my spiritual anchor, counsellor and companion. She would accompany me to the neonatal unit every day, and sit by the incubator with Kuzi while I went and expressed milk for her next feed, and hold my hand when I felt overwhelmed.
“Having Kuzi has made me look at my relationship with my own mother differently. The love I feel for Kuzi and my desire to protect her has made me understand why Mum was so strict and protective over me. We moved to Dubai just before Kuzi’s second birthday, and Mum moved with us. When Kuzi was born she suffered a brain haemorrhage, and doctors didn’t know if she would walk or talk, but she is a strong little girl and is now in mainstream school doing really well. Mum even volunteers at the school to be near her during the day. Having Mum live with us brings me comfort and support every day.”
Eppie Kusada, 60, is a retired nurse and mum of four grown-up children
“Lucy was a happy child, always singing, very friendly and smart. Plus fashion conscious; when we went shopping you could never choose for her, and if you told her, ‘I don’t have enough money’ she would say, ‘OK, you can buy it later when you have the money’. She never accepted second best! She was also generous and loved sharing to the point that, when I wasn’t looking, she would take her plate of food and go and share it with her friends outside.
“I don’t think I treated her differently from my other children, but because she was born first, perhaps there was more pressure on her to help with the others. When Lucy had Kuzi it’s difficult to explain how I felt. I was happy to be a grandmother, but I wasn’t sure she was going to cope as Kuzi was born so prematurely and was so delicate. But I had a feeling she would manage, because she is a fighter herself.
“Lucy is a very good mother, she would do anything for Kuzi and sometimes I wonder if it were me, could I do as well as she does? I’m not sure. Living in Dubai with them means I get to enjoy their company every day, and that my grandchild has become a part of my life. It’s more than anyone could ask for.”
Best friends: Hatty Pedder and Marcela Danielova
Hatty, 45, is an artist and mother to Poppy, 22, and Indigo, 7
“The first time I met Marcela was in 2000 at a model casting for a fashion shoot. She came in with her young baby and I was instantly struck at how laid-back and chilled-out she was – so elegant and warm.
“I had so little confidence back then and she really helped me realise that I could do what I put my mind to.
“Marcela is like a sister to me; we’re similar but packaged differently. She’s very honest with me, telling me when I’m being a drama queen. She looks out for me, and when I had to move into a smaller house after my husband died unexpectedly of cancer four years ago, she helped me move and made sure the house looked nice for me and the girls. As chance would then have it, a house in the same compound became available and she moved in almost next door. I never feel lonely knowing that Marcela is only a few doors down and that she’s there for me whatever time of day.”
Marcela, 36, is designer relations manager at Fashion Forward and mum to Elisa, 14 and Lilly, 10
“A mutual friend of ours had told me what an amazing photographer Hatty was and that I should get her to take pictures of me, so I did – not realising it had been a lie and that this was her very first shoot! She was shy then, and quite clumsy, but I remember thinking how sweet and feminine she was.
“Then we lost contact for about seven years, until Hatty got in touch with me just before her first solo art exhibition and we started to hang out more. She needed a lot of support then, and it was fabulous being part of it, I was so proud of her. I was going through a bit of an uneasy time, and Hatty told me about being interested in pranic healing and so I started learning about it too, which really bonded us.
“When Hatty lost her husband, I was also going through a change of circumstances, and we both found ourselves bringing up two daughters by ourselves. We both believe in fate, and believe life put us together again seven years ago, to prepare us for what was about to happen in our lives and for us to have a solid friendship that would help us both through, and it has.”
Sisters: Tamara and Tala Samman
Tamara, 22, is a university student
“Tala was always my partner in crime and I consider her my role model, especially during my childhood. As she was my big sister, I was convinced that she was always right and that I should follow in her footsteps, but we were very different. Tala was always interested in fashion and other girly things, while I was a real tomboy, interested in karate, football, business studies and maths. I see our differences as a good thing though, as we both have different career goals and support each other – something I’m very grateful for.
“The most defining moment of our relationship was during my first year of university. I had moved in with Tala in London, where she had already been living for three years. We started to become dependent on one another and listen to each other’s advice more. After that, without a doubt, we’ve been closer than ever, in terms of honesty, support, interests and our mindsets, which have all seemed to align. Also, our relationship is completely based around inside jokes and things that make us both laugh until we can’t speak any more.”
Tala, 24, is editor of myfashdiary.com
“Tamara was born when I was two-and-a-half years old and our mum always used to dress us the same, but that’s where the similarities ended. Not only did we look different – believe it or not, Tammy was blonde when she was little – but we had completely different interests, even from a young age. I loved my Barbies and make-up, whereas Tamara was into cars, Action Man and the action figures from cartoons. Although one thing we both loved was role-playing – we would recreate classrooms, families, and supermarkets and play make-believe for hours.
“Tamara was always an academic child, and I never had any doubt that she was going to excel in whatever she did. I’m incredibly proud of the challenges she took on at a young age, such as studying in Spain for a year to learn the language (she now speaks Spanish fluently), and using her summer breaks to intern at different companies to find out what career she wanted to follow.
“We have the same sense of humour, but personality-wise, we are completely different. This can be tricky, but I also am really grateful for it because she’ll have a completely different opinion from me. I don’t really speak to many people about obstacles or ask for advice, but Tamara is one of the few people I can count on to talk to about anything from business ideas to general advice.”