TheIsmaili > Family & Wellbeing > Family & Wellbeing
The RFS Contingent at the HUII Conference: from left to right: Arisha Chamadia, Aizaz Dosani, Ali Charaniya, Rahim Panjwani, Saif Lakhani, Yasin Lalani, Tanzim Thobani, Sahil Kadiwar, Nizar Mesani and Ashna Dawoodani

In early January, 14 students and young professionals from the India Jamat, were selected among thousands, for Harvard University’s, ‘Harvard U.S. India Initiative’ (HUII). Ten of them were students from AKEB,I’s ‘Reach for the Stars Mentorship Programme’ (RFS). Saif Lakhani, an RFS alumni, reflects on how programmes like RFS, are opening corridors to powerful opportunities for their students and their peers.

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.

A Kaleidoscope of Evolving Multiple Identities

With their presence in 25 countries across five continents, Ismailis are an international community, with trends of migration leading some of them from their settlements in Arabia, Persia and Indian subcontinent to Africa and further Westwards. This geographical spread of the community makes it difficult to categorisecategorize it by either nationality, language or culture. A better way to understand them is by keeping the Imam of the Time at the centre and reflecting about the identities of these various communities as evolving, through time and space.


Sanitation is a pressing global developmental issue on which the Government of India has been working since the past two decades. In line with Government’s plans, AKAHI has been successfully working in the field of rural water, sanitation and hygiene promotion since 1995, leading to significant improvement in the hygiene standards of people across its project locations. On the occasion of world Toilet day on 19 November 2019, we bring you details of activities done by AKAHI and its impact.