Tired of hard luck stories here?
After hearing the story of Noor Ahmad, his daughter, Nasreen Akhtar, and her husband, Amar Mengla, I think anyone who says life is too tough in Niagara Falls might just change his tune.
At the age of seven, Nasreen Akhtar moved from Pakistan to Niagara Falls, NY.
Her father, Noor Ahmad brought her here, neither one of them knowing any English.
Noor was unfamiliar with the area. He came with $50 in his pocket, but with hard work and determination he became self sufficient. He did not cry about how tough it was. He did not look to government to support him. He got a job driving cab.
He came from Pakistan, and he expected to work and so he did. Twelve–14 hours a day. He was in a cab driving people all over the city and region. Taking people around for fares and tips.
But he fed his family. As a foreigner, he had no sense of entitlement. He expected that to make it in America, he would have to work and rise by his own exertions.
He did. And, through it all, he never gave up, and his hallmark – call it his technique – was that Noor always treated every person who ever entered his cab like they were part of his family.
To advance his knowledge of English – in those early days – he would take a tape recorder with him and keep it in his cab. When he got a call from dispatch, he would record it. He’d go pick up his fare and when he had down time, he would call his children and play it for them, so he and they could learn English together.
There were tough times along the way, but Noor never gave up. He worked almost every day of the year. And saved his money.
In the case of his daughter, Nasreen attended school, graduating from Niagara Falls High School and went on to college where she obtained a master’s degree from Niagara University.
Over those same years, Nasreen developed what was for her a natural gift. She was the go-to person in the family and among her friends for make-up and hair. She loved to make women and girls look beautiful and she had a superb talent for finding that special touch, color, highlight, accent or cut, that converted pretty to beautiful and beautiful to stunning.
Somewhere along the way Nasreem met, then married Amas Mengla. Later they had children, now aged 10, 6, and 4.
Over the years, and who knows how many thousand cab fares, Noor saved up enough to start Aero Transportation, a medical transport company in Niagara Falls. At first, it was one car and one driver, Noor. Over time it became a company with several drivers and an ever-growing business.
Today, Nasreen and her husband Amas own and operate the company and opened offices on Military Road.
“For me, the most important thing is that all of our drivers go out of their way to take care of our clients,” said Nasreem. “We treat our customers with respect and, like my father did, more than anything, we treat them like part of our family.”
When they moved to the new offices, Nasreem knew it was time to start her own business, one that she always loved. She started ‘Beauty by Naz,’ a beauty shop specializing in making women look stunning. Hair styling, threading, waxing, make-up, facials, and henna tattoos are her specialty.
No one ever walked in the door and failed to walk out looking better, more glamorous, often dazzling. She has a natural flare, a keen insight into what works for a woman.
“I started with four or five clients in February and now I have over one-hundred clients,” Nasreem said. “I love doing it so I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”
As for her husband, running a thriving business, and being a father was not enough.
Amas is a member of the 107th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard and he “loves each and every second of serving in the military,” he says.
“I never take for granted the opportunity we have here,” Amas said. “I look at serving this country as a way of saying ‘thank you’ to the United States for all that it has allowed my family to enjoy.”
They epitomize the American dream, not because they are wealthy or have it all. No their idea of the American dream was to work, and try hard and give their best.