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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Improving access to education through technology and TKN

The IIS is utilising technology alongside an international pool of professional teachers who have offered their Time and Knowledge to expand reach and provide greater access to quality education globally.

Being part of the knowledge society and sharing knowledge in multiple ways is an ethic and tradition that Ismailis have inherited from history. It is a responsibility that contributes to a better quality of life for ourselves and others, and ensures a better future for generations to come. Following in this tradition, The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) has partnered with TKN volunteers to help prepare students for graduate-level studies.

At the Commencement Ceremony of the American University in Cairo in 2006, Mawlana Hazar Imam had said, “Once we have acquired knowledge, it is important that the ethical guidelines of faith be invoked, helping us apply what we have learned to the highest possible ends. And it is also important that those ends be related to the practical needs of our peoples.”

Generating and utilising knowledge to improve the lives and capabilities of others, and empowering individuals with the tools to create a better future, has been a long-standing principle of The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS). One such example is the support and uplift given to the potential applicants of IIS’s graduate programmes in countries, which include significant rural and mountain populations. The IIS is utilising technology alongside an international pool of professional teachers who have offered their Time and Knowledge to expand reach and provide greater access to quality education globally.

Students from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Tajikistan are receiving training to improve their English language and Academic Literacy skills to a Master’s level standard, in preparation apply for the IIS’s Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP). Given the population of the Jamat in these countries, the need for professional secondary-level religious education teachers is urgent. Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) language and academic literacy teachers from Canada, France, Kenya, Pakistan, Tajikistan, UK, and the USA, are tirelessly working via remote teaching methods, using platforms such as WhatsApp, email, Skype, and Zoom around multiple time-zones to help prepare students in a range of subjects for their International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exams and beyond.

Being able to cut across boundaries and access quality teachers allows students to grow, learn, and have more opportunities to study topics which are more readily available to those in the Western world. For Afghans outside of Kabul, some Iranians outside of Tehran and Mashhad, and some Syrians outside of Salamieh, for example, TKN teachers are the only available preparation that they have for applying to STEP.

Speaking about his experience, Faridoon Haidary, from Baghlan, Afghanistan, who was supported by a team of TKN teachers before successfully gaining admission and completing STEP at the IIS said, “The TKN support for improving my academic skills was instrumental during my preparation for the STEP programme. It was a critical juncture in my life towards a new career path. I remember that I used to have multiple sessions via Skype with my tutors on speaking and reading skills, academic writing, and being reflective. They would read my assignments and provide written feedback through email which would then be followed up with Skype sessions to help me clarify if I had any questions and concerns.”

“Looking at the effort and keenness to help me, I also felt very much obliged to give my best and work dedicatedly to meet their expectations. One of the highlights and aims of the Post Graduate Diploma at the UCL Institute of Education is to make us reflective. I feel that my first step to be a reflective individual started with my TKN tutors.”

Depending on their learning journey, students are assigned TKN teachers for Academic Literacy, Global Issues, English Language, IELTS, and Book Group. Time is a scarce and valuable commodity; yet the pool of TKN volunteers are selflessly giving of themselves and applying their skills for the benefit of others. Reflecting on her experience, Laila Premji, a TKN Book Group teacher from Toronto, Canada, remarked, “In this entire teaching-learning process, technology has played the most important part. In addition to the online sessions, we're constantly in touch with each other through WhatsApp and email and I am able to regularly follow up with my students.. They have now developed a natural tendency of making connections between their lives and the text and this is helping them with internalising any piece of literature they come across. I have observed an improvement in their vocabulary and fluency as well.”

“Personally, I have gained a lot from this experience. I wasn't aware of the Book Group teaching at all and this TKN experience has taught me a skill that has enriched my personal and professional life. At home, my family has now started discussing children's stories and novels and it's amazing to see how we are bonding strongly in this fast-paced world.”

In March 2019, TKN teachers from around the globe were invited to attend a week-long training course at the Aga Khan Centre in London, at which TKN teachers were inducted into their roles and responsibilities – helping them to better understand the profiles and journeys of the applicants, as well as the expectations of STEP. Speaking about the value and contributions of the TKN volunteers, Rosa Barugh, Academic Support Programmes Advisor at the IIS commented: “Utilising volunteers has helped us plug the gaps between what local service providers in priority countries are able to offer, and the requirements of STEP. Our team of TKN qualified teachers has enabled a huge pool of would-be STEP candidates to obtain targeted coaching and support. We are really hoping to see an increase in candidates who are ready to meet the rigours of STEP this year, thanks to the TKN volunteers.”

In 2019 alone, over twenty TKN teachers have provided language support to fifty-five students globally, whilst a further seventeen teachers are in the process of joining the team. Learn more about the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP) here.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

International health care professionals contribute to establishment of AKMC, Khorog

The Aga Khan Health Service, Tajikistan (AKHS, T) recently established the Aga Khan Medical Centre, Khorog (AKMC, K) as a private, not-for-profit hospital, offering high quality health care to the community. It began operations in December 2018, providing outpatient care, diagnostics and physiotherapy services. In April 2019, the hospital expanded its offerings to include inpatient, as well as emergency management services. The first phase of this expansion is supported with 48 beds and a provision for future growth, as needed. AKMC, K complements and supports the Government of Tajikistan's efforts to provide quality diagnostic and treatment services not currently available at the 450-bed Khorog Oblast General Hospital.

AKMC, K has benefitted enormously from collaboration with the Aga Khan Health Board USA (AKHB USA) and the Ismaili Health Professionals Association (IHPA). In 2014, Princess Zahra had visited the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania). During her visit, she met with Dr. Mirza Kajani, then Chair of AKHB USA, who was one of the people involved in pulling together a team of volunteers who contributed to the Phase II expansion of the hospital in Tanzania. AKHS also requested AKHB USA to provide similar support for the AKMC, K project.

“Khorog is a distant, mountainous region with difficult terrain – the system of healthcare is very different, with much of it carried over from the Soviet Union days,” Dr. Kajani explains. “It’s a beautiful part of the world, and the majority of the population are Ismailis. There is a high level of literacy, great enthusiasm and an eagerness to acquire new knowledge. The plan took root in our hearts, and we set out to determine how we were going to approach this monumental undertaking.”

Mehrunnissa Taj was previously a member of AKHB USA and was recently appointed as the Honorary Secretary of AKHB USA. She describes the many challenges that had to be overcome. These included the significant language barrier, different educational standards and forming the right team to meet local needs. “We first evaluated the needs on the ground and assessed how we could supplement the local expertise,” Mehrunnissa said. “We determined that we had to focus on the basic, fundamental elements in four areas – nursing, pharmacy, laboratory and imaging. Beyond that, one of the major needs to enhance the standard of care was English language proficiency. In essence, we had to impart medical expertise and also teach English.”

Many international volunteers, including over 25 TKN volunteers, have played a critical role in the start-up and early operational phases of AKMC, K. They continue to contribute their professional skills and expertise and provide patient care. These volunteers also bring their positive attitudes, compassion and empathy, all of which are important soft skills for this type of assignment. The notable contributions made by some of these TKN volunteers at AKMC, K are summarized below.

Dr. Naushad Amin, a Family Practice Physician from Florida, is at AKMC for six months. He has played a key role in many areas and is helping new volunteers get accustomed to the facility. He also acts as a liaison between AKMC, K and AKHB USA.
Hafiza Ukani is a hospitalist and nurse practitioner from Atlanta. She came to AKMC, K as a Basic Life Support (BLS) Instructor and ensured that every clinician in the hospital was certified in BLS.
Almas Welji is a radiologist who taught local radiologists and technicians how to read X-rays and CAT scans, and how to write reports. She continues to provide support remotely, reviewing films and providing her impressions.
Dr. Zahir Moloo, Chief of Pathology at Aga Khan University Hospital (Nairobi), assisted with a needs assessment of laboratory medicine and continues to oversee implementation of best practices.
Dr. Ryaz Chagpar, an Endocrinology Surgeon from Canada, was at AKMC, K for a month. During that time, he taught surgeons how to conduct procedures safely. He continues to work with local staff remotely and consults via WhatsApp.
Dr. Dilshad Hemani is a pediatrician from Maryland, D.C., who came to AKMC, K with her husband Alnoor, an internist. Dilshad has provided extensive support in setting up the pediatric clinic at the hospital on multiple trips to Tajikistan.
Zeenat Jiwani, ER nurse from Atlanta, brought stethoscopes from her hometown, taught nurses how to conduct various tests, and then presented each of the nurses with a stethoscope to wear in the hospital.
Samina Kajani is a NICU nurse practitioner from California. She started a Super User Program for nurses who are particularly interested in expanding their learning and being champions on the ground for others.
Shirin Nanjee is an English as a Second Language (ESL) certified teacher who has taught for more than 10 years. She went to AKMC, K for two months to conduct ESL training for all staff.
The team’s efforts are now shifting to how these programs can be sustained by Tajik professionals. They are developing a skills lab for clinicians to practice performing safe care for patients, with the help of an American instructor who will conduct training. In addition, an ESL teacher and nurse will be in Khorog for six months teaching medical terminology and English.

“Without the incredible commitment of our volunteers, our strong partnership with the dedicated local AKMC, K team, the structure we have in place and support from the TKN Office, it would have been impossible for us to implement this project in such a unified and diverse manner,” Dr. Kajani notes. “With Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision for AKMC, K to become a major health care centre, this is just the beginning. The work we are doing in Tajikistan will continue and international Ismaili health professionals will stay engaged in this part of the world for a long time to come.”

AKHS, T and AKMC, K are immensely grateful to these volunteers for their exemplary dedication and remarkable contributions. The volunteers have also learned a great deal from their assignments with AKMC, K and AKHS, T. The learning process has been bidirectional and a great source of inspiration for TKN volunteers. One consistent outcome of such international efforts is that these experiences are deeply enriching for the volunteers – professionally, culturally and personally. These assignments are also an opportunity to acquire new knowledge about disease patterns and how to address them in partnership with local healthcare practitioners.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaker series continues at the Ismaili Centre Toronto with Professor

Do we owe it to God or to ourselves to be empathetic to others?

As part of the Ismaili Centre Toronto’s speaker series hosted by Dr. Amyn Sajoo, Who Are We, Where Are We Headed?, University of Toronto professor Amira Mittermaier discussed how empathy connects to citizenship, identity, and religion on September 7.

In her book, Giving to God, Mittermaier explains it is our God-given duty to be empathetic to the poor. Her book explores two trains of thought about empathy and Islam: the Sufi belief that one should embody God’s generosity, and the belief that giving to the poor is really giving to God.

She explained that many pious Muslims in Egypt who regularly give to the poor do so to create a transaction with God that earns them “the keys to their house in paradise.”

During her research in Egypt, Mittermaier noticed this widespread mindset in the khidmas (places of service, kitchens in this context) where volunteers cooked for the poor.

“In this kitchen where people are cooking, it’s full of religious rhetoric, it’s full of God talk, it’s full of people reminding themselves that we’re doing this for God and God will reward us for it,” she said.

Professor Mittermaier explained that the volunteers often imagine themselves giving to the hands of God.

While many in the secular world are dismissive of the concept of donating to the poor to gain entry into paradise in the afterlife, as it may be perceived as selfish, Mittermaier believes this mindset benefits the poor.

“They don’t have to perform their suffering, they don’t have to say thank you,” she explained. “It frees them from all this baggage that comes with charity and compassionate giving.”

For those who observe the other philosophy, who give to the poor in the name of God, an ethical dilemma arises.

Does being empathetic to secure a place in paradise have the same spiritual effect as giving out of sheer compassion? Mittermaier believes it’s difficult to judge how spiritual effects vary as it is rare for people to give unconditionally.

Concluding the discussion, Mittermaier said she enjoyed speaking with an audience that cares deeply about volunteering.

“I know that volunteering and giving is central to the [Ismaili] community,” she said. “So I hope there was some resonance.”

Audience member Rafique Daruwalla, 37, reflected on Mittermaier’s talk.

“For a lot of us, we take charity and doing good for granted,” said Daruwalla. “We think it is something that needs to be done or we just do it implicitly, but we never really take a step back and think in terms of why.”

Beyond Charity: The Ethics of Empathy was the fifth of six talks that are part of the Ismaili Centre Conversation Series curated by Dr. Amyn Sajoo on the ethics of citizenship, religion, and identity.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seva” means literally Service and innthe context of the Ismaili faith, voluntary Service in accordance with Imam’s Farmans and service to the family community and mankind. This service includes the giving and sharing of time, Money knowledge resources and Farmans.

The Seva you give is not for the benefit of the Imam, or for the benefit of the persons who directly benefit from your Seva. This is your duty and is for your material, and spiritual benefit and especially and ultimately in the purification of your Soul, and your Niyat without which you cannot merit the grace and blessings of divine path & enlightenment - link to meaning of Niyat.

“Today I will give you  a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others  is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” –  48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)

My dear Hazar Imam’s Spiritual Child,
I enclose the photo which you ask for the Souvenir Number of the Ismaili Volunteers, Scouts and Guides.
My message to the Volunteers, Scouts and Guides is:
“I ask you all to remember the great opportunities you have for discipline and service in your organization. Discipline is very important in life, and by making good use of the training you now have, you are laying the foundations for useful and happy lives. I send my loving thoughts and best wishes to you all.”
Yours affectionately,
Om Habibeh,
Mata Salamat
The Begum Aga Khan (1906-2000)

The Ismaili Volunteers old Badge, has the following symbols;
1. The Crest of Imamat
2. the colors red, green with gold - our flag colours with gold.
3. A work horse in readiness with neck in full reigns,
4. A sword - Zulfiqar - for protection
5. a walking stick - For help

The colors red and green are colours of our flag and a symbol of the work and sacrifices of seva daris , volunteers , through out Ismaili history and their willingness to serve the Jamat and the Imam of the time voluntarily, and with loyalty, patience and tolerance.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mahebubchatur wrote:

“Today I will give you  a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others  is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” –  48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)

The present Imam has replaced the motto with "work with words". He said this in his Calgary DJ deedar to the Jamat. I was present and heard it with my own ears. The intention being that we should communicate and discuss in our service.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

European Sports Festival 2019 - Celebrating our Volunteers

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mawlana Hazar Imam Aga Khan IV: “The voluntary sector represents, and can develop, all that is finest in the human potential”

“A sound enabling environment must create a favourable framework in which people’s energy and creativity can be motivated, mobilized and rewarded.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam
Conference on Central Asia and Europe, Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2007

“What a sound enabling environment must do is to create a favourable framework in which human creativity can flourish… In the end, human progress must grow out of the human heart and soul. The environment enables – but it is the human spirit, guided and supported by the Divine Will, which eventually triumphs.

Mawlana Hazar Imam
The Enabling Environment Conference, Kabul, Afghanistan, June 4, 2007

“The voluntary sector represents, and can develop, all that is finest in the human potential….Yet the voluntary sector….has a tendency to follow a “charity” approach.…It is my profound conviction that steps to strengthen institutions and the linkages between them are critical to the freedom of the individual to be creative and productive in a socially responsible manner. This is the essence of the Enabling Environment….We must show greater faith in the ability of the individual to be creative.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam
Keynote Address at the International Development Conference, Washington, DC March 18, 1987

“We have all seen examples of God’s most wonderful creature, the person, whether in a government bureau, a business, or a private development agency, who is inspired to give generously of himself, to go beyond the mechanical requirements of a task. Such men and women, paid or unpaid, express the spirit of the volunteer, literally the will to make a product better, a school the best, a clinic more compassionate and effective. Their spirit, generating new ideas, resisting discouragement, and demanding results, animates the heart of every effective society.

I submit that one of our great goals, if we are to create an enabling environment of hope and determination, is to give our volunteers opportunities to become more expert and professional – more rational and skilled, without killing their passion.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam
Enabling Environment Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, October 21, 19
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmaherali wrote:
mahebubchatur wrote:

“Today I will give you  a small motto and that is “Work No Words”. Labour for the welfare of others  is the best way of improving ourselves, because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea, but this is an outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” –  48th Ismaili Imam, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan (1877-1957)

The present Imam has replaced the motto with "work with words". He said this in his Calgary DJ deedar to the Jamat. I was present and heard it with my own ears. The intention being that we should communicate and discuss in our service.

Around 2 decades back, during a lecture I heard the speaker mentioned Imam's motto as ISLAM AND WORK.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TKN Event Manager oversees execution of leading technology conference in Central Asia

In October 2019, a technology conference, ‘Digital Transformation in Central Asia’, became the biggest event of its kind in the history of the region. Hosted by the University of Central Asia (UCA), in partnership with the Government of Kyrgyz Republic, the three-day event featured 25 speakers from 12 countries and focused on three areas – digital transformation in government, cyber security and emerging technology in the education sector.

“We wanted to gather the leaders in technology across Central Asia, and give them a platform to discuss current challenges and proposed solutions,” explained Shaukat Khan, UCA’s Chief Information Officer. “To fully explore the possibilities of a digital transformation, leading international experts brought best practices from the developed world and had robust discussions with more than 100 attendees on the ideas that could work in their context.”

This is the first time an AKDN institution has hosted an event of this scope and caliber in Central Asia. In order to ensure the best experience for both attendees and speakers, it was critical to have an Event Manager who could effectively support the local team to bring all the intricate pieces of the plan together and manage the overall execution of the conference.

This TKN assignment was a perfect fit for Aliyyah Nasser, a UK-based entrepreneur with experience in strategy and change management. Aliyyah and Shaukat had both served on the Ismaili Council for the UK and Aliyyah was looking for an opportunity to volunteer with an AKDN institution.

“The timing worked out very well as my responsibilities on the Council ended in July and Shaukat had already assembled a local team that was up and running,” Aliyyah said. “As the event drew closer, I joined team meetings by video conference and worked remotely to bring various elements of the event plan together.”

For many of the speakers, this was their first introduction to Central Asia and to UCA so ensuring an outstanding experience for them, from planning through arrival and delivery, was a priority to enhance UCA’s credibility and reputation. Aliyyah spent the days leading up to the event working closely with the speakers before they arrived onsite and through the conference days.

Aliyyah herself arrived in Bishkek a few days prior to the event and worked closely with the local team to ensure that the conference was executed professionally. She created a minute-by-minute agenda for the three days of the conference, liaising between all the team workstreams, the venue, and leadership from the lead sponsors and co-hosts. Her role evolved during the three days; she summarized key messages after keynote speakers and even stepped in as an announcer between presentations.

Aliyyah said, “We had a gap of about 15 minutes while we were waiting for a highlight video to be prepared, so we decided to gather feedback from the audience. This turned out to be a positive way to use the time, and was a first for me as I ended up moderating a live Q&A in three different languages (two of which I don’t speak at all!)”

A number of senior government officials attended the conference throughout the three days, including the President of Kyrgyz Republic, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the first Prime Minister, all the Ministers of his Cabinet, as well as the Governors from all seven provinces of the country. During the event, the president announced the formation of a President’s Advisory Council on digitization to follow up on the outcomes of the conference.

Several segments of the conference were broadcast on local television, and highlights of the event were published in 30 newspapers across Central Asia. Shaukat is optimistic about the many connections made through the event, the spotlight on UCA within Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, and the doors that have opened to accelerate digital transformation in the region.

For Aliyyah, the exposure she got to the strategic thinking relating to digital transformation in Central Asia, and also how Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision is coming to life through our institutions, was invaluable. “I benefitted from this TKN assignment both professionally and personally,” Aliyyah noted. “This was a great example of a short project through which I drew inspiration for future volunteer opportunities – I look forward to continuing to work with Shaukat and the UCA team in the coming months. I also had a chance to stay in the country after the conference, travel with my family, and see the work of our institutions first-hand.”

Shaukat added, “TKN is a great blessing for our institutions as we can bring top professionals from around the world to support these projects.” The conference was deemed a resounding success by government and private sector participants. UCA is most grateful to Aliyyah and the local team for their exemplary efforts in successfully bringing this significant event to life.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote of the Week

“I am fortunate to lead an international community with a strong social conscience. Bridging North and South, East and West, the Ismailis have a long tradition of philanthropy, self-reliance and voluntary service. Wherever they live, they faithfully abide by the Quranic ethic of a common humanity and the dignity of man. They willingly pool knowledge and resources with all those who share our social ethic to help improve the quality of life of less fortunate men, women and children.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Berlin, Germany, October 3, 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Volunteers in the USA continue a tradition of service

Jamati voluntary service was institutionalized by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in 1919, in India, and the Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC) has continued to evolve bringing to its platform a greater degree of professionalism while creating uniformity across a more globalized Jamat. In recognition of the contribution made by volunteers, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah bestowed the highest honor to the volunteers in India by allowing the use of his own crest, the “Taj,”on the volunteer badge.

In celebration of the IVC’s 100th celebration this year, we are highlighting individuals for a glimpse of their journey down the memory lane of service, and as a small representation of the USA IVC. With different paths to their journeys, these volunteers tell a tale of happiness and humility.

Recalling the beginning of their voluntary service

Before coming to Chicago with his family in the 1970s, Ramzan Ali Kapadia had left a legacy in Bangladesh, where at the young age of 17, he had recognized that children did not have books, shoes, or a basic understanding of the Bengali language or English. He began the Ismaili Youth Services Bangladesh in the 1960s to help fulfill some of these needs, and also helped to establish English classes and savings programs for youth.

By 1974, the Jamat in Chicago had grown from about 14 people to more than 100, and Ramzan worked with other sevadaris to create the IVC there to assist members with Jamatkhana activities and to manage the facility. In 1979, a new building was purchased for a Jamatkhana and Ramzan says, “The volunteers became the backbone as we had to remodel the building, including painting, plastering, woodwork, lighting, and so on. That brought in the real volunteer camaraderie.”

At 105 years of age, Fatima Jamani, lovingly called Maaji by all, is a familiar sight to all in Atlanta, where she sits on a chair in her volunteer uniform, still on duty. Born in India in 1914, during the First World War, she remembers her call to service as a light that has sustained her until this day. Enduring the loss of her four-month-old son at an early age and losing her husband by the age of 44, she was left to care for her nine-year-old daughter. With no consideration for the prospect of remarriage, she raised her husband’s siblings, managed the household, and still found time to dedicate her time for teaching in the Religious Education Center. She has been a volunteer continuously since 1949.

Maaji’s most special memory is a bond she made with her Imam during his Takht Nashini in 1957 in Bombay. During mehmani, she felt an urge to present the Imam with a token of her love, and tried to fit her ring onto his fingers, but it was too small. Discouraged, she turned to leave, only to be stopped by the Imam and hugged by him. The moment of joy and solace was a seal to confirm he had accepted her seva for her niyat. Her secret to longevity? “I don’t gossip,” she replies with a smile.

Service during the Jubilees

Hafeez Rangwala, aged 58, began his service within the Volunteer Corps in 1972 at the age of 11 as a Cub Scout in India. With 47 years in service to the Jamat, he has been a trainer and lead in Safety and Security, Crisis and Disaster Management, and currently is the manager for Uniform Volunteer Training.

Through service, Hafeez has developed self-confidence, inner strength, and self-esteem, enabling him to live a happier and fulfilled life. For Hafeez, “serving others is the finest attribute of human character, being a volunteer and getting opportunities to serve the Jamat, the institutions, and above all, to serve Imam-e-Zaman is the best reward of life.” During his years of service, he has served during the 2002 Houston Mulaqat, and all the subsequent Jubilees. His wife is a non-uniformed volunteer and his daughter served with him during the Jubilees.

Hafeez’s fondest memories are of occasions when he has served members in their times of difficulty, and seen the gratitude in their eyes. He has served as a volunteer in leadership positions such as President of the FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, Houston, as Chairman of its Strategic Planning group, and with the Citizens Community Outreach with the Department of Drug Enforcement Agency. He has served as a volunteer for 10 years as a Police Officer with the New York Police Department’s Auxiliary Forces, and as a trained volunteer firefighter with Sugar Land Fire Department.

Serving the Los Angeles Jamat since 1981, Salim Virji became the first Major of the Volunteer Corps in a pilot program and was addressed as such by the Imam during the Silver Jubilee. Salim served as a member of the Western Council, and today, he can still be seen in uniform at all major events as the Jamati Food Coordinator. “Volunteerism helps me build new skills and counteract the effects of stress and anxiety,” he says, adding, “Helping and working with every segment of our Jamat gives me personal satisfaction and a sense of pride and identity. It is my wish and desire that I could serve the Jamat and the Imam with dedication and devotion till my last breath.”

Becoming a volunteer in 1982 in New York, Karima Rajan recalls the adrenaline rush she felt during the Imam’s Silver Jubilee visit. She says engaging with other volunteers “sparked such a fire in me. The night before Hazar Imam was due to arrive, we were so charged that we only slept for an hour or two, at most. We also had up to 10 enthusiastic, youth volunteers in one room. Who could sleep with all the energy?”

Karima became a Captain of the IVC and her proudest moment was being presented with the IVC 75th anniversary badge in 1994 and remembering her parent’s words: “If you are going to do seva, do it with your heart. Be humble.”

Youth continue the Tradition of Service

For Anam Sherali, aged 27, her journey began at the age of eight and has led to her serving as Regional Youth Administrator for Greater Houston. Being a recipient of mentorship herself, she today influences adolescent uniform volunteers who are embarking on their journey as a volunteer for the first time. Her favorite moment was when she received her own badge, following the footsteps of her mother, who had been serving as a volunteer for 19 years.

During the 2002 Mulaqat in Houston, Anam assisted in packing sandwiches and snacks for the Jamat. During the Golden Jubilee, she was part of Diamond Voyage as a guide. During the Diamond Jubilee, she participated in various aspects of the planning and execution process to enter Jamati member’s data at the Data Processing Center.

As a high school and college student, Anam has also volunteered at Memorial Hermann Hospital, representing on the Junior Volunteer Board for five years. Every year, on Thanksgiving Day, she serves the homeless or delivers meals to senior citizens. Through her volunteering, she has recognized that “faith and service are intertwined. I’m driven to serve because it makes me feel more connected to the community; it’s a way to express my faith beyond the rites and rituals that we observe in Jamatkhana on a daily basis.”

Jamati service has evolved in many ways over the years, especially in terms of structural changes. The youth mentorship initiative enrolls individuals at the age of eight and allows them to seek out positions of leadership within the volunteer infrastructure. Such is the example of Altamish Daredia, age 23, from Birmingham, Alabama, who has been a youth volunteer since 2002.

Currently, the Youth Facilitator, Altamish’s earliest memory of being a volunteer is when he was eight-years-old, and assigned the role of Cadet. During the 2018 Diamond Jubilee celebration, he was able to see the Jamat from around the world come together in service and in celebration. Eager to offer solutions to visible challenges, he noted that with hours of waiting in long queues, the Jamat might experience dehydration or be hungry. With a few other volunteers, he fetched water bottles and granola bars from the snack tables for the Jamat. In Lisbon, during the final Darbar, he assisted at the First Aid and healthcare stations.

By carrying on a family tradition of service, he hopes to inspire his fellow volunteers with the message, “we are all part of a tradition and an organization that has been in place for generations. We are following in the footsteps of so many volunteers that came before us. We each carry an amazing responsibility to our Imam and the Jamat.”

The eagerness of youth to serve was recognized and formalized in 1924, leading to opportunities for junior volunteers under the name of the Ismaili Scouts. In a community guided by the Imam’s passion for service, Rehan Farista, age 16, became an active Ismaili Youth Volunteer at the age of eight. He started his service by assisting the elderly in Jamatkhana. Through service, he derives immense happiness, saying that the word “volunteer symbolizes taking the time and effort to help others.”

The motto “Work No Words,” given by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah in 1924 to the Volunteer Corps, will resonate as a symbol of service with humility. During Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee, the motto and duty were enhanced with training for “Service with a Smile.” The Jamat’s training and service has continued to evolve with the need to represent the pluralistic regions of our Jamat and is a tradition that will endure.

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Serving with a smile in Portugal

Ever since Ismailis began to settle in Portugal in the 1970s, members of the Jamat have contributed their time and talents on a voluntary basis towards the development of the community and wider society. Here, we share the stories and experiences of Portuguese volunteers across generations, united by a lifetime of service.

Volunteers have been integral to the evolution of the Ismaili community in Portugal, from the establishment of the first Jamatkhana in Areeiro in 1975, to the opening of the Ismaili Centre Lisbon in 1998, and more recently welcoming the global Jamat to Portugal for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration in 2018.

A long-standing tradition in Ismaili history, volunteering is directly related to service, generosity, and mutual aid — fundamental values of our faith. Mawlana Hazar Imam has often spoken of the importance of volunteers to the functioning of Jamats around the world, and has recognised and appreciated volunteers’ part in the success of Jamati and Imamat institutions.

“I am fortunate to lead an international community with a strong social conscience,” he said in a speech made in Berlin, Germany, in October 2005.

“The Ismailis have a long tradition of philanthropy, self-reliance and voluntary service. Wherever they live, they faithfully abide by the Quranic ethic of a common humanity and the dignity of man. They willingly pool knowledge and resources with all those who share our social ethic to help improve the quality of life of less fortunate men, women and children.”

The Jamat have endeavoured to follow this ethic ever since travelling to Portugal from Africa over 40 years ago, bringing with them the tradition of service handed down over generations.

Nasser Carimo is a Portuguese volunteer that has been serving for over 30 years. He believes that every volunteer must have certain qualities to create a positive impact in the community. “More than time and patience, a volunteer must be organised, and have discipline and tolerance… We should start slowly and perform all our tasks with love, commitment, professional pride, and humility. As soon as we enrol in this life of service we will feel the impact in all our mental, psychological, and spiritual dimensions.”

The story of the Ismaili volunteers in Portugal started in Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony where several thousand murids lived, before many left Eastern Africa in the 1970s.

Perine Jiná is one of the many Ismailis that began to volunteer in Mozambique during her childhood. She joined the Brownies, a group of young volunteers that served whenever needed. She was just nine years old, and, like today’s Scouts, Brownies continuously serve with love and happiness, and in harmony with nature and the surrounding environment.

“My mother was a volunteer and I grew up learning that volunteering was a part of us, a part of our faith, and a part of our identity. Everything we do is worth it when we feel we have done our part, have contributed and have helped others. When I do voluntary work, I feel happy and satisfied and that everything in life is better. It is a feeling like no other, especially when we put our heart and soul into what we do.”

Perine also served as a volunteer during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees, some of the most enriching experiences in her life.

“It was very exhausting — I think I didn't sleep for three days. However, it was the possibility to serve our Imam and our community that gave me the motivation to continue,” said Perine, who hopes to be a volunteer for many more years to come.

Younger members of the Jamat also contribute enthusiastically. Volunteering from an early age is a value that has been encouraged by older generations over time. Dedicating time and effort in helping others, both inside and outside the Jamatkhana space, being part of the shoes or kitchen committee, supporting the boards or simply helping others, are just a few examples. Walking through the Ismaili Centre Lisbon, one often comes across young Scouts and Guides diligently running drills or learning new skills.

Samir Ismail, 20, has been serving as a volunteer for more than three years. He describes volunteering as a distinctive value in the Ismaili community.

“It allows me to use my skills to serve the community, having a direct impact on people's lives and the achievement of institutional goals, whilst also being an opportunity for learning and for personal enrichment,” Samir said. “The happiest moment I have ever experienced as an Ismaili volunteer was definitely the Diamond Jubilee Celebration in Lisbon. The dedicated and unconditional work of all volunteers — from several countries — resulted in an unparalleled event. It was a significant milestone in the history of our community that created a legacy to be continued by future generations.”

Samir believes that volunteering has positively impacted his life and recognises its importance in his personal development.

“Voluntary work has become essential in my life as a way of exercising citizenship. It lets me be creative and supportive, and enables me to recognise problems and act quickly, thoughtfully, and effectively. It helps me to develop skills such as self-confidence, responsibility, and team spirit.”

Rizvana Sadrudin started volunteering when she was 18 years old and feels very fulfilled when she volunteers. She encourages others to join the IVC as the Jamat in Portugal continues to grow.

“To the younger members of the Jamat, I would suggest you volunteer. Not only because we need more volunteers, but also since you bring different and new abilities to the table. Becoming a volunteer will benefit your own lives, the way you view the world and the way you face it. It is an enriching experience and provides a fountain of knowledge.”

Ismaili volunteers can be proud of themselves for their service, their time, generosity, effort, and selfless contributions. As Khalil Gibran once said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We make a difference: Ismaili Volunteer Corps celebrates 100 years of service

In 2019, Jamats around the world have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC). Throughout its history, the IVC has aimed to serve the needs of the Jamat. Within the ethic of improving the quality of life of all humanity, the IVC also serves the broader communities of which the Jamat is a part. This service to society is seen as a civic responsibility and has always been an important part of IVC’s work.

The centuries-old tradition of giving of one's time and resources is a significant aspect of Muslim tradition and the bedrock of our community. It encourages initiative, develops leadership capacity, and provides for Jamati members an opportunity for personal and professional development.

“Service to Allah, to community, to society — in fact to humanity at large — is an integral part of faith. Muslims are entrusted with the care and protection of their fellow human beings. They’re enjoined to do good, to help, to share, and to do that with kindness and compassion,” said Dr Nadia Eboo Jamal, a historian with the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS). “Through centuries, we have read and heard about Ismailis who have given of their wealth, they’ve shared, they’ve taught, they have written, they have given of their expertise and skills. They have looked after the poor and the elderly and the weak, particularly when it came to offering refuge to those in need.”

The IVC has maintained this historic practice of sharing and giving for the benefit of others.

Throughout his Imamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam has often acknowledged the long-standing tradition of voluntary service within our community and the importance of continuing that tradition today and into the future.

“I am fortunate to lead an international community with a strong social conscience. Bridging North and South, East and West, the Ismailis have a long tradition of philanthropy, self-reliance and voluntary service,” he said in Berlin, Germany on 3 October 2005. “Wherever they live, they faithfully abide by the Quranic ethic of a common humanity and the dignity of man. They willingly pool knowledge and resources with all those who share our social ethic to help improve the quality of life of less fortunate men, women, and children.”

It is this long tradition of voluntary service and the ethic of a common humanity that led to the creation of the IVC a century ago, says Hussain Jasani, the manager for educational programmes in the Department of Community Relations at the IIS. He says the origins of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps can be traced back to India in the early 20th century.

“Murids have always rendered voluntary services. In India, there were Murids who were serving voluntarily but there was no tradition of the uniformed volunteers. There was a group called Vidhya Vinod Club, which was involved in literary activities. There were members who were doing research, writing papers, and they thought of coming up with some organised body, an organised institution, which could be there to support the community,” Jasani said.

The first recorded instances of the formal establishment of Ismaili Volunteer Corps were in 1919 in the cities of Bombay, now Mumbai, and Karachi. In 1920, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah granted the use of his own crest, the Taj, as the emblem of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps. Although the volunteer badge has evolved over time, a group of volunteers in India, called the Taj volunteers, still display a Taj on their caps today.

From its roots in Bombay and Karachi, the tradition of uniformed volunteering spread to other Jamats around the world, and now exists in every country where the Jamat is established. These volunteers span all age-groups, with youth being encouraged to join and learn about serving from a young age. The Ismaili Scouts were introduced in 1924 and today includes young girls and boys who, like the IVC, continue the decades-long tradition of service to the Jamat.

Over the past 100 years, the role of the IVC has continued to expand and has now become an even more integral part of the community’s day-to-day life, and the events and programmes organised to serve its members. This is showcased most strikingly during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visits to Jamats around the world, when volunteers work tirelessly in preparation to welcome the Imam to their Jamat. Volunteers are seen to spare no effort in the endeavour to ensure the Jamat’s comfort, convenience, and safety, such that it invokes the Imam’s happiness.

Dr Shafik Sachedina, Head of the Department of Jamati Institutions, commented, “Hazar Imam holds volunteers in the highest esteem of service. He is always in admiration of the service, the way in which the volunteers position themselves with humility, with love, with commitment.”

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Video: All work, no words - Official IVC100 song

On the occasion of World Volunteer Day, 5 December 2019, The Ismaili is pleased to release the official song and music video to celebrate the centenary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC), featuring participation from 41 countries across the world.

Entitled "All work, no words," the song pays tribute to the countless volunteers — past and present — who have offered their time and talents to serve the Jamat and the societies amongst whom we live, all over the world. The song honours the sincerity, dedication, and sacrifice with which our volunteers carry out their duties day-in and day-out, and expresses gratitude to them for their service both inside and outside Jamatkhana.

Performing the track brought together 23 Ismaili musicians living in 13 countries, many of whom met at the Jubilee Arts International Arts Festival in Lisbon last year, and who themselves serve as volunteers in their home countries. The accompanying music video features film footage of thousands of uniformed volunteers from 41 countries across the globe from Belgium to Bangladesh, and from Tanzania to Tajikistan, representing every jurisdiction where the Jamat is present.

“While the IVC has existed for 100 years, our tradition of service has been alive for more than 1,400 years. Throughout our history, this voluntary service has kept the Jamat grounded and cohesive,” said Zaheed Damani, a lyricist-composer and member of the project team based in Calgary, Canada.

“Service is a big part of who we are as a community — this inspired the lyrics ‘It’s how we give, it’s how we live.’”

The collaboration weaves together different languages, cultures, and sounds to create a diverse yet unified harmony, reflecting the artistic talent present in the Jamat, and celebrating the pluralist nature of the global Ismaili community. It includes verses in Farsi, English, French, Urdu/Hindi, Arabic, Gujarati, and Swahili.

“Technology has made it possible to develop this tribute and to bring together IVCs from around the world; to feature scenery from different countries and continents, and to see smiles on the faces of volunteers of different ages, from each of these places, while all sharing the same sentiment. Each time I watch the video, I discover something new,” continued Zaheed.

One of the scenes in the video, filmed at the steps of Hasnabad Dargah in Mumbai, replicates a black and white photo taken at the very same steps from almost 100 years ago.

“As the Jamat has spread and developed over the past century, so has the Ismaili Volunteers Corps. From its roots in India in 1919, it is now present everywhere the Jamat lives, with different roles and responsibilities, and even with different uniforms,” said Laila Sabuwala, a member of the project team based in Mumbai.

“This song and video not only connects the past to the present, it helps to connect the Jamat in different parts of the world to one another.”

"All work, no words" tells the story of who we are as a community, while the poetry of the lyrics evokes a sense of unity, sharing, happiness, and humility in service.

Zaheed expressed his aspirations for the music video, saying “we hope the song captures the pride, gratitude, and connection that the Jamat feels for its volunteers. We have tried to celebrate the work of the IVC — honouring 100 years of the past, and looking ahead 100 years into the future.”
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Ismaili Muslim Community provide free health services in Lira town

Saturday December 7 2019

In Summary

Treatment. Amongst the treatment provided at the Lira camp were medication for allergies and infections.


By Monitor Reporter

About 400 people, including children, have benefitted from a free health and vision camp organised by Shia Ismaili Muslim Community in Uganda.
The camp was held at St Gracious Nursery and Primary School in Lira last Saturday.

Mr Minaz Jamal, the President of Aga Khan National Council of Uganda, said: “We regularly provide help through such camps and try to make a small difference. The idea is to conduct the camps in an environment of compassion and care. In Lira, we screened for vision and qualified doctors were able to examine the children and parents.”

Mr Jamal also said they sensitised the community members about the benefits of early childhood development, which teaching was done by the Aga Khan Foundation Madrasa Early Childhood Programme.

“We can make this difference with the generosity of our partners and our dedicated volunteers who look after health and outreach matters,” he added.

The camps

The free medical camps have for several years been organised by the Shia Ismaili Muslim Community to reach different communities so that they benefit from experienced health workers and access health facilities.
The aim is educational and also to raise health awareness.

Similar camps have been held in Kampala, with one last year at Kibuli, to coincide with observance of World Health Day.

Among the treatment provided at the Lira Camp were medication for allergies and infections.

Ms Gulzar Hirani, who oversees the Aga Khan Health Board, said “It is critical to screen for non-communicable diseases because when these are not arrested early, the victims slip into complications and yet with timely intervention, these diseases can be managed.”

Nadim Lalani, the chairman of Outreach Portfolio, said: “The camp is supervised by doctors and medical staff, to provide good quality medical facilities to the most deserving of people. In Lira this time, we had three doctors, two nurses, two optometrists and a technician. This was our first time working with the community in Lira. We are committed to having these camps to create health awareness about importance of good health in Uganda. This is part of our values.”

Every year, the health camps are fully supported by donors from the pharmaceutical sector and other generous donors and volunteers from the community.

This year’s camp was supported by Astra Pharma (U) Ltd, Gittoes Pharmaceuticals Limited, Arman Pharmacy, Millennium Optics Limited, Leo Biscuit Industry Ltd, and Connexion Bread.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TKN First Aid Trainer makes major impact in Red Cross certification and building local capacity

Over the last decade, Vancouver-based Iqbal Lalany has served on several TKN assignments to provide extensive medical response training in areas that need it most. In 2011, Iqbal received a call from Dr Firoz Verjee, then Coordinator of the AKDN’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative (DRMI). Iqbal was asked if he could deliver First Aid training for six weeks, a challenge he graciously accepted. At the time, although Iqbal was working for Scouts Canada, he was fortunate to take four weeks of vacation time and a two-week leave of absence, (approved by Alamin Pirani, Scouts Canada’s Executive Director) so Iqbal could serve on this TKN assignment.

“The first time Iqbal came to Central Asia, he enabled 120 Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) responders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan to attain international Red Cross certification,” said Dr Firoz Verjee. “Since then, he has continued to build upon that success across Central and South Asia and has touched the lives of many with his warmth, generosity and passion.”

Iqbal has been called upon to serve almost every year since then, travelling to several countries where this type of training is required. In February this year Iqbal, who retired last year, delivered training in Syria with Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS). Most recently, he went back to Tajikistan in October to conduct a ‘train the trainer’ program that will also help to build local capacity.

“When you go to different countries, meet new people and experience their culture, you leave a part of your heart behind,” Iqbal explained. “It’s very humbling and gratifying when you see the varied conditions in which people live and the emergency response knowledge that’s required in these communities.”

In preparing to go to Syria and Tajikistan, Iqbal learned that there was very little training equipment available locally. He bought the equipment in Canada and left it with the local instructors upon departure. They will use this new equipment when they continue to provide much needed first aid training.

“Iqbal has served with Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and its legacy institutions for the last many years,” said Nusrat Nasab, Head of Emergency Management with AKAH. “He has conducted specialized training courses, and transferred knowledge and lifesaving skills to hundreds of staff and volunteers. Most recently, he was engaged in developing a First Aid Training Manual and slide presentations for the newly trained Instructors at AKAH. Throughout his years of voluntary service, we have found him to be such an optimistic, energetic, enthusiastic and amazingly kind human being.”

For Iqbal, the opportunity to serve as a TKN volunteer has opened his eyes to Ismailis living in different parts of the world. He had the chance to celebrate Imamat Day in Khorog (Tajikistan) and was overwhelmed by the generosity of people who invited him to join them for a meal in their homes. Similarly, in Salamiyah (Syria), students would invite Iqbal to their homes after the training session for dinner. Personally, it has been very rewarding for Iqbal to meet families, eat local food and learn about new cultures by asking questions. “When you travel, you need to go with an open mind, be humble and the attitude to learn,” he said. “As much as I’m there to share my First Aid knowledge, I’m also there to learn.”

Iqbal’s travels have also enhanced his knowledge of AKDN institutions, especially those that deal with Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response. He notes that, while traveling to countries where there is conflict can be stressful, the opportunity to contribute his time and knowledge is of the utmost importance. AKAH and FOCUS express their deepest gratitude to Iqbal for his exemplary TKN commitment and exceptional contribution.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Video: Work and Many Words - How Tanzania celebrated 100 years of IVC

On the occasion of Mawlana Hazar Imam's 83rd birthday, the Tanzania Ismaili Volunteer Corps created a song that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps.

The song, composed by Jamati members, celebrates the diversity of the Tanzania Jamat featuring 4 different languages and highlighting the spirit of humility, dedication, and unity.

Watch the full video here:

The Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC) celebrates its 100th anniversary

All around the world the IVC centenary was marked by celebrations to commend this wonderful service by volunteers who manage the day-to-day operations of Jamatkhanas, as well as contributing actively to civil society.

The IVC - a century old tradition - began in India. Volunteering is a Muslim tradition upheld by Ismaili Murids both in the day-to-day operations of Jamatkhanas, as well as contributing actively to civil society.

Throughout his Imamat, Mawlana Hazar Imam has often acknowledged the long-standing tradition of voluntary service within our community and the importance of continuing that tradition today and into the future.

In Berlin, Germany on 3 October 2005, he said, “I am fortunate to lead an international community with a strong social conscience. Bridging North and South, East and West, the Ismailis have a long tradition of philanthropy, self-reliance and voluntary service. Wherever they live, they faithfully abide by the Quranic ethic of a common humanity and the dignity of man. They willingly pool knowledge and resources with all those who share our social ethic to help improve the quality of life of less fortunate men, women, and children.”

In Angola, more than 100 volunteers and their families came together to celebrate this special occasion.

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Google translation of article in Portuguese

Video: IVC 100th Anniversary Celebration at Centro Ismail, Lisbon

These days, when we are pressured by overly demanding agendas, and when time does not seem to come to all our obligations, we should be grateful to have the opportunity to serve the Imam and Jamat. The sense of serving with humility and dedication is part of our faith and tradition.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three Seattle girls teach English to students in Hunza

My extended stay in Pakistan began with a family vacation in Karachi, Pakistan from our home in Seattle, Washington in February 2019. We had gone to visit family and see where our parents grew up, and in the process We visited some community schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods. Seeing people's living situation ⁠— conditions filled with need and poverty ⁠— made me realize I needed to do something to help. Thus, we approached the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) in Pakistan to see how we could assist.

AKEB in Pakistan was eager for more students to learn English, based on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance, but was struggling in some regions because teachers in the schools were not very proficient at the language to even help these students. They were excited by the thought of having native English speakers immerse the youth in the language and teach students to be more comfortable speaking English. After much discussion on location and logistics, we ended up with a Time and Knowledge Nazrana assignment in Hunza, in the Northern regions of Pakistan.

My 15-year-old sister, Ayla, and my 22-year-old cousin, Alizeh were with my 14-year-old-self in Pakistan for a total of three weeks (including travel to the remote, mountainous area of Hunza where the summer camp was held). We held camps in two locations a day for nine days. Each session was two hours long, and in total the three of us taught about 150 students every day. However, the time commitment went much further for us.

Before the trip, while in school, we met every weekend and spent time poring through ESL curriculums online and in books, trying to develop our very own, unconventional style of teaching for our Hunzai students. We also met with REC teachers, people who had previously taught in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, and many other resources in order to best predict what our schedule every day would consist of.

Finally, it was time to begin our journey. We traveled with stopovers in Doha, Lahore, Islamabad, and Gilgit, before finally making it to Hunza. Once we arrived, we stayed in the Darbar Hotel Hunza in Karimabad. In every direction we looked, all we could see for miles were beautiful mountains, a few capped with snow. Many of these beige colored mountains had phrases written on the top with white rocks, “Welcome, Hazar Imam!” and “Diamond Jubilee Mubarak!” All I could think about as I saw those beautiful greetings was the amount of effort it took to climb and place each rock in precisely the right spot atop a mountain in a language they were still learning.

The next day, it was time to get to work! Our daily schedule was to prepare the lesson of the day, then teach one session, eat lunch, and teach another session. We would then go home and rest before going to Jamatkhana in the evenings. With over 20 Jamatkhanas in just Karimabad, we attempted to visit a different one every day.

The first class we taught in the morning was held in a private school in Aliabad. Since it was during summer break, the main hall was open for us to teach 65 students. The hall could hold about 100 children, but with the hands-on and active lessons we had planned, the room seemed cramped. The hall was empty save for a long and very dusty carpet, and when the students jumped or ran in games we played, it created a thick cloud of dust that was constantly in everyone’s eyes and throats. With no air conditioning and no electricity to operate the fans, the hall was hot, muggy, and sweaty. No electricity meant there were also no lights but with many windows in the hall, we instead taught with natural light.

On school property, there was a dirt area for the children to play. In a tiny corner there stood a small cement building with shelving which they called a canteen. Here, students bought snacks like cookies and flavored bubble gum. If they ever entered the classroom eating one of these snacks, it would be their second nature to immediately think to offer some to us, their teachers, as a form of respect and generosity. This generosity is an important part of their culture that is so different from the one we are used to in the United States.

I have always known that Ismailis spoke many languages, and the Hunzai were no exception with Burushaski and Urdu, but I still used to think that there was one set ‘Ismaili culture.’ Hunza has changed my perspective on this. Ismailis in Hunza have different religious practices as well as a different set of culture. More emphasis is put on the oral traditions, including the recitation of qasidas in their practice, and children are trained and taught to be masters of the verses at a young age. This was illustrated every day in Jamatkhana by a professionally and beautifully sung qasida, no matter the age of the reciter. I loved seeing how the same beliefs and practices could be reflected in so many ways, and how all beautiful they all are in their own way.

One weekend, the Girl Guides and our assistants from the Karimabad Center Jamatkhana hiked with us as we took a historic tour of Baltit Fort. The fort is over a thousand years old, and can be seen from every point in Hunza since it is perched high up on a cliff. From the roof-top view of the fort, we could see the entire town with a complete circle of white-capped mountains encasing it.

The nauseating roads were a consistent feature of our trip; being on a mountain, the roads in Hunza were narrow and rocky, with a hard mountain wall on one side and a cliff on the other. There hours of driving on the unsteady roads to and from different locations was a difficult challenge. These roads took us to rural areas that were recommended to us by students and teachers alike, including Duikar viewpoint and Hopper Glacier. We went hiking from the top of a mountain downwards to the glacier, and it was breath-catching to see what can only be described as a frozen sculpture of a flowing river. It was as if the world had stopped for a moment long enough for us to touch the water without getting soaked.

This entire Hunzai experience opened my eyes to new cultural perspectives and natural wonders, but it also showed me how much of a need there is in developing countries. There is clearly a lack of what many consider to be basic skills and knowledge when an ordinary 14-year-old who is not yet in high school can offer something so valuable to the community. From the moment I arrived, we were loved and respected by the community. The amount of gratitude the people of Hunza showed me sparked an intense desire to return someday with even more qualifications to make more of an impact on their small community.

I want to serve in the medical field when I am older, and because of this experience, I want to serve in that capacity, not only in Hunza, but in other developing countries around the world who deserve the same opportunities we have at our fingertips in the USA.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Commemorating 100 Years of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC)

“And these workers that I am aware of, they are everywhere. They are silent. They do not seek recognition and although I do not give them much worldly recognitions, they are very close to my heart and deep in my recognition.”
Farman by Mawlana Hazar Imam
Nairobi, 1992

From the roots of the “Kathiawadi Mitr Mandal” in 1912, the group was renamed to the modernised Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC), volunteers who over the span of 100 years have been enrolling with the desire to serve the Jamat, the Imam and the community. During its formal establishment in 1919 in the Indian subcontinent, the Ismaili Volunteer Corps was created with the objective of bringing an unparalleled level of professionalism to the structure and guise of the volunteers. In 1920, followed by the granting of the Coat of Arms by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, which was to be worn along with the uniform, he wore the volunteer uniform and Coat of Arms for the first time in 1921 as the ‘Colonel of the Corps.’ At this time, both Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah and Prince Aly Khan became patrons of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps.

After only a year of its formation, volunteers obtained their chance to serve the Jamat when Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah arrived in Karachi and thousands of Ismailis from all parts of the world came to receive their deedar. The volunteers facilitated the Jamat with such unity and discipline that Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, delighted by their services, gifted each volunteer a signed photo of himself. At the momentous occasion of the Takht Nashini of Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, it was the Ismaili Volunteer Corps who had the immense responsibility of maintaining discipline and order which they fulfilled with the utmost dedication.

A few years after the establishment of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, in 1924, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah offered a motto for the volunteers, “Work No Words.” To this day, a badge with this motto is worn by volunteers with their uniform reflecting their ethic of service within the Jamat as well as elsewhere. Intrinsically, it signifies the countless hours of time and knowledge pledged by every volunteer in service.

With aims like spreading cooperation within the Jamat, the provision of facilities, the promotion of healthy habits among the youth, as well as popularizing education and helping Jamati individuals in all aspects of life, the volunteers have remained the backbone of the Ismaili community worldwide. The Ismaili Volunteer Corps, since its institutionalization, has spread internationally in all regions of the world at a rapid pace, showing the zeal of members of the Jamat to help in any way possible. Similarly, in Pakistan the IVC has continued to grow. The Hunza and Chitral Volunteer Corps are two of the oldest established corps, dating back to the late 1950s.

The first major of Gilgit’s IVC, Bulbul Jan Shams, was enthusiastic about serving the Jamat from an early age. He admitted that during his period as the major, “There were many challenges. There were limited sources of communication and finances were not abundant either. However, even with minimal finances and a below average literacy rate, the members of the IVC had a high spirit of volunteerism.” Mr. Bulbul explained how volunteerism changed his life saying, “Whatever I am today, is because of this khidmat. Today my children are in very reputable positions and that is because of this khidmat. In my life, if I have acquired any respect, it is because of this khidmat.”

Starting from Aliabad and Hyderabad, Hunza, the IVC spread throughout the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. During Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first visit to the northern areas of Pakistan in 1960, the Hunza Volunteer Corps played a pivotal role in facilitating the Jamat to navigate the treacherous roads despite unfavourable weather conditions. A recent event in Chitral showed the dedication of these volunteers to serve their fellow brothers and sisters when, due to calamities and other disasters, the irregular 400-kilometre road was successfully repaired by the IVC in preparation for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit in December 2017.
Today, the IVC consists of thousands of Jamati members with an everlasting spirit to serve the Imam and his Jamat. Around 3700 volunteers, men and women, are working day and night in Karachi alone to ensure that the Jamat’s safety and security are ensured. With a total of 52 subcommittees, one for each jurisdiction in Pakistan, the vast number of volunteers is astounding. Nevertheless, every day more and more people enrol in the IVC to serve with the messages of peace and brotherhood.

The most unique aspect about these volunteers is that not only do they serve the Jamat to make the Imam happy, they do so because they believe it makes them happy. As Bibi Saima, the first lieutenant of Upper Chitral’s IVC said, “It is because of the blessings of khidmat that I am living a peaceful life. I feel happy and my khidmat also brings happiness and good health to my family.” She continued saying, “This khidmat has a lot of benefits. It brings you a life of peace and happiness individually and inside your homes.”

Time and time again, whenever Mawlana Hazar Imam has paid a visit to any of the regions nationally and internationally, the volunteers have always stood strong in their service. The brotherhood that these volunteers share is indescribable. There are various times when volunteers are unfamiliar with each other, especially in times of emergency and crisis, however, the mutual desire to serve binds them together. The IVC, although an Ismaili institution, break down barriers and boundaries; there are no exceptions to their service towards humanitarian causes. As Naeem Khowaja, the honorary secretary general of Southern region rightly states, “Volunteer Corps do not only serve the needs of Ismailis. It is an institution that operates for the good of mankind and in cases of emergency, the IVC fulfil their duties regardless.” He explained this by referring to an emergency occurred due to immeasurable flooding in Sindh in 2011. In this crisis situation, the IVC’s sole mission was the safety and security of all.

As the 1954 pledge of volunteer’s states, “Believing in the Omnipresence of God, I hereby solemnly give this pledge to ever remain faithful and leave no stone unturned to serve Mawlana Hazar Imam, our community, our country and our volunteer corps.” The aim of these volunteers is to serve and there has never been any kind of segregation made as to who they should assist. They have and continue to provide their services with the utmost dedication in any way that they can to every individual in need. To celebrate, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps and a global celebration to mark this momentous occasion has commenced.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RAZAKAR is a tribute song presented by The Ismaili Local Council for Gojal Bala in collaboration with SOUNDTRIBE to commemorate the century of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps and the tradition of volunteerism which goes back over 14 centuries, thousands of volunteers have come together in celebration and gratitude for having been blessed with the opportunity to serve others.

This is a multi language song including Urdu and 3 regional languages from Hunza, Wakhi, Burushaski and Shina

Dedicated to all volunteers past, present and future, seen and unseen, known and unknown.

Your service is the tradition we celebrate.

Special thanks to Meherban Rumi, Azad Wali and Sher Afzal for brushaski and shina lyrics.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cover Feature | Global Health Efforts: Reaching Out to Reduce the Burden of CVD

Under the umbrella of the Aga Khan Development Network (, I've worked with a team of volunteers in an ongoing effort to improve the care of cardiovascular disease in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Some of the work includes supporting cardiac catheterization laboratories in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, and Mombasa, Kenya, in their quality improvement (QI) initiatives by creating linkages with the ACC for their participation in the NCDR registries.

Work in Tajikistan includes supporting an echocardiography laboratory and working with local authorities on a train-the-trainer model to improve hypertension care delivery in remote areas of Tajikistan.

As a graduate of the World Heart Federation's Emerging Leaders Program, I'm also part of a team of investigators from India, Nepal, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and the U.S. evaluating the utility of a club-based medication delivery strategy to improve hypertension care in Nigeria.

Our team has also conducted one of the first pilot randomized trials to test the efficacy of a text message and interactive voice response-based intervention to improve medication adherence in patients post acute coronary syndrome and stroke in Karachi, Pakistan.

This effort entails a collaboration between the Baylor College of Medicine, the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, and the Aga Khan Development Network eHealth Resource Center.

The team is also exploring future studies to build on these existing collaborations. Several of these efforts have led to local QI initiatives and collaborative publications.

Why do I volunteer with these global efforts? Given my background and upbringing, I see this not just as a privilege to be able to give back to the community, but as a personal responsibility.

I was a recipient of some of this in my earlier years of education. It only makes sense that I would be part of these efforts from the civil society.

Salim S. Virani, MD, FACC, is a professor in cardiology and cardiovascular research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, and his clinical practice includes being a preventive cardiologist. He's also chair of ACC's Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Member Section Council.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Celebrating 100 Years of IVC


Uganda jamat creates music video to celebrate 100 years of IVC.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vancouver couple plays key role in helping to establish palliative care at AKU Pakistan

Over the last two and a half years, a husband and wife team from Vancouver have helped to establish the palliative program at the Aga Khan University (AKU). This was achieved through onsite visits, numerous conference calls and ongoing correspondence with the local team.

This TKN assignment, initiated at the request of AKU President Firoz Rasul and Dr. Saida Rasul, was to set up a sustainable, long-term palliative program, which would be the first of its kind in Pakistan. While there had been efforts in this area in the past, a formal palliative care program had not been established and the predominant option available to palliative patients was aggressive medical management.

Afzal Mangalji and Anar Shariff were the right people for the task. Afzal has nearly 40 years of professional experience with Vancouver General Hospital, primarily in social work and palliative care. Anar has a background in health administration with 30 years of experience in the medical devices field and in conducting Quality System audits.

Their work started in January 2017. At that time, Dr. Atif Waqar from the USA had joined AKU and a third of his work focused on the palliative portfolio. Afzal wrote a thought paper that outlined eight components, which would be critical in implementing an effective and sustainable palliative program. Over the past two and a half years, they had almost weekly conference calls on how to convert this thought paper into reality.

“The development of the program took place step by step,” Afzal explained. “There was strong administrative support from leadership, but we had to first develop and build credibility for the palliative model. A Palliative consult team composed of physicians and a Nurse Navigator was set up to demonstrate the value and calibre of the service to the hospital’s numerous health care providers. This enhanced their understanding of palliative care and made them feel more comfortable in referring their patients and families to the program.”

A key factor in bringing the program to life was having Dr. Waqar on the ground. His knowledge of palliative care models in the USA, combined with his familiarity with the local culture and language, placed him in a unique position to advise Afzal and Anar about the cultural nuances that had to be taken into consideration. Moreover, he selected the palliative team members and delivered the required training to ensure a consistent approach.

On an annual basis, Afzal submitted a comprehensive report that documented progress on each of the eight components to keep AKU leadership fully apprised of developments. In February 2019, the couple visited the hospital in Karachi to conduct a two-year review of the program.

“We wanted to have the on-site visit down the road so we could perform an objective evaluation of the program after its establishment,” Anar said. “We interviewed more than 75 health care providers at all levels of the organization, met with patients and families, and conducted chart audits. We also spent time with the both the hospital based and home care teams who all knew what we were collectively striving to achieve for the program.”

A comprehensive draft review report of the palliative program evaluation was sent to President Rasul in May this year, followed by a conference call with him and key decision makers at AKU in September. The group unanimously adopted the findings and 38 recommendations, and the final report was submitted to the President's Office in October 2019.

In developing the palliative program, a number of outcome measures were identified. At the end of the first year of the program, there were 1,100 palliative physician consultations just within the hospital itself. The program grew by 100% last year, with approximately 2,200 physician consultations and growth is expected to continue. In addition, patients outside the hospital are receiving high-quality physician, nursing and allied discipline palliative care through the community component of the program.

“Afzal and Anar worked diligently to develop palliative care at AKU,” said Dr. Waqar. “The roadmap they developed was executed effectively and the resources and education they provided facilitated the teaching and training of frontline staff. Through their continuous support to make this a reality over the course of more than two years, AKU is on the map as the first institution in Karachi to provide palliative care services in the region.”

For Afzal and Anar, it was a privilege to build relationships with so many people at AKU and visit this part of the world for the first time. “The population in Karachi is so huge, and the demand on the health care system was an eye opener for us,” Afzal noted. “We saw first-hand the creative use of technology and resources to respond to this demand and had a glimpse of the life of the Jamat in this part of the world.”

Anar acknowledged the excellent partnership of the AKU team every step of the way. “We were so blessed to have this opportunity, and the institution made sure we had every support we needed. We have a real appreciation for the challenges that institutions face in providing health care, and we were honored to contribute in some way.”

AKU is most grateful to Afzal and Anar for their tireless efforts and outstanding contribution.

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