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Minaz Fazal and Shajahan Merchant, posing with their awards.

New York State Senator Anna Kaplan presented former Council for the USA President Banu Minaz Fazal, and former Council for the Northeastern United States President Shajahan Merchant, with the State Senate’s Commendation Award to recognize the Ismaili leaders for their dedication and outstanding contributions to their community while exemplifying the values of Islam.

School in Aliabad where the Karmali girls taught morning sessions. (Left to right) Alizeh Karmali, Ayla Karmali, Ammana Karmali.

My extended stay in Pakistan began with a family vacation from our home in Seattle, to Karachi, in February of 2019. We had gone to visit family and see where our parents had grown up, and in the process had visited some community schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods. Seeing the situations in which people were living -- 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 if they could use our assistance.

Sabreena Merchant interviewing Sparks head coach and five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, Derek Fisher

Two young Ismailis, Shams Charania and Sabreena Merchant, are now in the forefront of reporting for the National Basketball Association (NBA).

There are twenty seconds left and you are at the edge of your seat. It could be anyone's match and suddenly there is a power outage. You suddenly remember that you follow Shams Charania and Sabreena Merchant on Twitter, among the most-followed and high-profiled NBA-reporters in the business. And as you realize that your team has won, you get the satisfaction of being the first to message your friends as you heard it directly from the best in the industry.

Dr. Ruhee Jaffer.

The concept of public service was instilled in Dr. Ruhee Jaffer at a young age. She recalls, “My great grandfather and his family were sent to Africa from Bombay to serve. I feel honored to have the opportunity and support from my peers and colleagues to continue this tradition of service in places that hold such beautiful memories and significance for our family.”

Zameer Rayani receiving the “Just Do It Award’ from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“I didn’t believe it until I was shaking his hand,” Zameer Rayani admits. When his presence was requested at Amazon’s recent All-Hands Meeting in Seattle, he didn’t even share with his family or friends. After all, no one from the HR department had ever won the award in the company’s 25-year history, but with numerous Ismaili Amazonians live-streaming the event around the world, messages like this spread like wildfire on social media: “Do you know Zameer Rayani? Sounds Ismaili, he just got an award from Bezos at our company All-Hands!”

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