With Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Vancouver quickly approaching, thousands of volunteers are working day and night to prepare.

Seventy-five-year-old Ismail Nanji has volunteered with the building team each time Mawlana Hazar Imam has granted Deedar in Vancouver for the last 40 years. He still remembers building the stage for Hazar Imam’s first visit to Vancouver in 1978.

“Now I can feel it,” Nanji says, admitting that the long hours of physical labour were a lot easier for him when he was 35.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 12-year-old Ayaan Jeraj has been a badged member of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps for as long as he can remember. In the lead up to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit, Jeraj has helped out wherever possible — whether it be serving chai, performing duties, or helping clean the Jamatkhana he attends.

“I just love the feeling of helping people and being there for our community to help support everyone, and obviously now to make sure they have a great Mulaqat,” Ayaan said.

Ayaan said he is excited to volunteer and to listen to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance in person, so he can help his Jamat and his family.

Annie Rattani, who serves for the IVC as Team Lead of Events at Downtown Jamatkhana in Vancouver, is also dedicating all her spare hours to Mulaqat preparation.

“Sleep is out of the question right now — whether it’s morning Jamatkhana I need to help with, evening Jamatkhana, events, or my duty at B.C. Place for the Mulaqat,” said the 27-year-old.

Rattani, who will serve on the wheelchair ushering team during the Mulaqat, explains that the Jamat’s happiness over the next few days is driving her efforts now.

“I hope they have an amazing experience,” she said. “If they need any help, any assistance, the volunteers are there to guide them through, to assist them — so the community can enjoy the ultimate fulfillment of this Mulaqat.”