April 19, 2017 7 min read

Atikah Amalina aka The Tudung Traveller (for those who are phonetically inclined…/ðə tuːdʌŋ  trævələ/) identifies herself as a Muslim female, of Malay ethnic origins, who travels. But we think she is much, much, MUCH more than that. She is an educator, a writer, a traveller of the world and a volunteer as well. We at Zahara really take our metaphorical hats (or hijabs! :P) off for this superwoman as she is an inspiration to not only her pupils, but to Muslimahs everywhere. Read on to find out more about Singapore’s very own amazing Tudung Traveller! 

Atikah Amalina

The Tudung Traveller herself!

Describe yourself in less than 5 words.
Educator. Writer. Life enthusiast.

You teach, you write, you travel, and you volunteer. How do you juggle all these?
You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right? Each of the things listed form a different part of me, and one have no less significance than the other. I try to make time for the things that are important to me, because I’ve learnt that leaving things to circumstance often leaves much regret.

I’m an educator by trade. I’ve always loved education and working with youth. I believe that the youth are the drivers of tomorrow, and if we can lead them to see the positive influence they can be, then this world would be a much better place. The world is filled with enough hard and bitter people – the youth can change the dynamics.

I write, because I need to. Let’s just say, it’s a self-serving practice to save my sanity. Much of the things I write are pep-talks to myself. It’s the internal dialogue that happens for me to process the things I’m going through and to internalise the lessons I would otherwise ignore. I just decided to take it a step further and be vulnerable – I share it with people.

I travel and I volunteer because I choose to live a life of no regrets. And if there’s one thing I would like to focus on for the rest of my life, it’s these two – growth through travelling and being of service to others. I want to live life fully, and knowing that I have lived it well and lived it with purpose. I may choose to leave the education service someday, and I may choose to stop writing, but may I never stop appreciating the gift that is life and the opportunity to do good in this world.

All in all, I make it a point to live my life in a way where I’m a blessing to others. Yet, I must also include this: I am only able to do all of these because of the support I get from my loved ones and my self-care routine.

Atikah Amalina

Unsure to focus on the beautiful Atikah or the beautiful scenery!

How has the experience of shaping young lives been?
Humbling, and surprisingly amusing. Being an educator in a mainstream secondary school is my job, but I have learnt that it goes beyond teaching them the English and Literature syllabus or preparing them for exams.

I’ve learnt that when I acknowledge these students – when I see them as valid individuals with their own set of hopes, dreams, fears and challenges – and be fully present during my interaction with them, it truly is the best way to let people be their best selves. I try to allow for them to find their own inspiration and self-drive. And the results? As much as I seek to teach them, I learn so much from them as well – from their fresh perspectives on issues, to their resilience in challenging situations.

Plus I have a few smart-asses in my classes who regularly give tongue-in-cheek comments that make me laugh.

What is the proudest accomplishment of your life so far?
Tough question. On paper and in the traditional sense, I have accomplished a fair bit, alhamdulillah. But I am most proud of my resilience, of my tenacity in rising up after every fall and tumble, and of my ability to take curveballs and throw them back at life. I’ve gone through a difficult childhood and teenage life, setbacks in my education journey when I’d had to drop out of my first choice university due to family issues, a toxic and abusive relationship, and several other uphill tasks, and I still choose to make the best out of whatever life has presented to me. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy, but Allah has been so, so kind, and for that, I shall remember to pat myself on my back for doing a decent job so far.

Atikah Amalina

The best part of trekking the globe? Making new friends, of course!

We know this is a difficult question but what is your favourite quote? Why?
“You are enough.” I’ve realised that we so very often forget to give ourselves credit for the things that we do – for waking up and making the best of a day, for being kind in situations when we can so easily be mean, for choosing growth and love every single day – even the simplest things go a long way.

We forget to be our own cheerleaders. We forget to prioritise self-care. We very easily fall down the slippery slope of comparison, especially now with the ubiquity of social media. We compare ourselves to the seemingly perfect life portrayed by others, forgetting that everything is carefully chosen and curated to give a particular effect.

This quote is actually my phone screen wallpaper! I remind myself every day that I need to love myself first, before I am able to love others. I will not be able to give if I am running on an empty cup.

We love your travel blog and reading about the places you’ve been! Where are some of your favourite places to travel and why?
Anything related to nature and a culture steeped in history! Two of my favourite places thus far are Mauritius and Andalucia!

I spent a month in Mauritius for an internship, but I’m not biased! It’s a stunning place with so much to offer and many of my ‘SubhanaAllah MashaAllah!!’ moments happened there. Crystal clear seas, cottoncandy coloured skies, and the perfect sunsets made me fall in love with it over and over again. I was lucky to stay in Flic en Flac, which is reputed to have the best views of the sunset in Mauritius, so I made sure to witness the sunset every single day I was there. The only time I missed a sunset was when I was too sick to leave my bed!

Andalucia was a childhood dream came true. I grew up immensely fascinated in Islamic Civilisations history and would scour the library and the Internet for books on the topic. To have had the opportunity to explore Granada and Cordoba – two strongholds of one of the greatest Islamic civilisations – was, and still remains to be, my favourite experience of Europe. Andalucia is a beautiful amalgamation of East and West, and walking its streets can transport one to another era. I loved it!

Atikah Amalina

A good reminder for us all: You ARE enough. 

What’s next on your bucket list?
I wish I know that answer myself! I have a habit of throwing caution to the wind and not planning my next trip until I feel like it (which is usually a month to a couple of weeks before actually going off). I don’t believe in striking places off a list, per se, and prefer to let it just happen. Travel to me is in appreciating the journey. I believe in listening to where my soul wants to go. Right now, I do have a couple of things in mind, but nothing concrete yet. I guess you’ll just have to follow me on my journey as I figure things out myself. I’ll be posting regularly on my Instagram!

Your philanthropic work is amazing and inspiring! What projects do you have lined up?
Similar to the previous question, to be honest. The last Rainbow Bake Sale was planned in 3 weeks. The last Rainbows for Batam was planned, coordinated and executed in less than a month. My big projects are always things that are in response to my personal journey, and isn’t something that is set in stone.

Rainbows for Batam is one of a few social projects that I organise with my loved ones. It primarily involves raising funds for and interacting with orphans and disadvantaged children in a few orphanages/children homes in Batam. In the latest instalment of the project, we raised funds for and worked closely with Panti Asuhan Riyadhus Shalihin to revamp two of their classrooms. We also spend time with them through colouring and craft activities and also ball games.

However, I started 2016 with the intention to make time at least once a month to volunteer, so I’ve partnered up with several local organisations, such as Free Food for All and Dignity Kitchen, and try to use whatever I have to of service to them.

Atikah Amalina

One of Atikah’s philantrophic projects: Rainbows for Batam

If you could go back in time to 5 years ago, what would you tell your former self?
I actually reflected on this question a couple of months back! 5 years ago, I was planning to set up a life with my then-boyfriend, and had my 5-year plan mapped out. I wouldn’t change anything that has happened since then, for I believe everything happened as they must, but if I could, I’d say this: Whatever comes your way, have faith that Allah will have your back. Do your best, keep your head up, protect your dignity, and always choose love.

To hear more from our free-spirited and adventurous Zahara Warrior, follow Atikah on her Instagram, Facebook, as well as her website!


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