More than 100,000 members of the Jamat in 30 countries, along with their families, united to serve neighbouring communities and protect the environment on the third annual Global Ismaili CIVIC Day, celebrated in September. This worldwide event was a culmination of a year-long effort, which included the most activities on a single day since Ismaili CIVIC began in 2020.

Ismaili CIVIC is a global programme that embodies the rich tradition of service upheld by the Shia Ismaili Muslim community worldwide. For centuries, we have been dedicated to serving humanity and enhancing the quality of life in our local communities, regardless of faith, gender, and background. Global Ismaili CIVIC Day (GICD) is a global initiative established following Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance to reflect the Jamat’s ethic of civic engagement and good citizenship.

This year’s mission was to enhance the quality of life in our local communities and help improve our planet's sustainability. From America's west coast to the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand, tens of thousands of individuals across generations, enthusiastically joined their families and friends for a day of selfless service.

Activities focused on reducing suffering caused by poverty, conserving the environment, and enhancing health, particularly for those with limited access to basic services. The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) brought a wealth of experience to environmental sustainability efforts, having planted millions of trees over the past four decades. Trees were once again a focus this year, to help create more green spaces and reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, to address some of the consequences of urbanisation.

Involving the younger generation in GICD and raising environmental awareness is vital for their own health and welfare in the future. An engaging video produced by Ismaili CIVIC Pakistan, titled Rumi, shows how children can take part in efforts to live in harmony with nature. This was one of a number of innovative interventions this year that helped to further the cause of Ismaili CIVIC across the world.

Sustainable success

In Singapore, community members, families, and residents joined Minister of State Alvin Tan to plant trees, marking 60 years of the country’s #OneMillionTrees campaign. A prior tree-planting event was attended by  Member of Parliament Joan Pereira. In Malaysia, volunteers participated in World Clean-Up Day in Penang, collecting over 2200 kilograms of waste, making local areas clean and tidy for residents..

“Through our joint initiatives with over 150 partners, community volunteers and their families are contributing more than 5,000 hours of their time and expertise towards these important objectives,” said Zain Fancy, President of the Ismaili Council for the Far East. Such initiatives are especially timely with Singapore hosting the third Earthshot Prize award ceremony in November this year.

Ismaili CIVIC volunteers distributed 40,000 tree saplings in Pakistan's Lower Chitral, including in red alert zones prone to natural disasters, while in Hunza, more than 500 people planted over 200,000 trees on GICD weekend. Efforts to combat plastic pollution also featured, through the use of eco-friendly cloth bags. And in Lahore, books were donated to the Pakistan Literacy project.

In Australia and New Zealand, Ismaili CIVIC teams initiated their “Plant a Seed” activity in five centres, with the Jamat and families and friends making a “pledge of intention” to protect the environment by planting seedlings.

The Afghan and Syrian Jamats participated in GICD for the first time this year. Volunteers in Kabul came together to clean the Afghanistan Football Stadium, while in Syria, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat signed an Agreement of Cooperation with the Shumul Inclusion Foundation to plant 50,000 trees in Salamieh. Meanwhile in Dubai, Ismaili CIVIC and Global Encounters partnered to plant mangroves at Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary.

Did you know mangroves are super carbon dioxide cleaners? They’re able to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their roots 10 times more effectively than tropical forests!

Healthy lives, healthy planet

The Jamat in Kenya organised diverse activities, including free medical screening camps in partnership with the AKU Hospital and Lion’s Sight First Eye Hospital, along with blood drives to augment existing stock. In India, volunteers organised blood donation drives in partnership with the Red Cross India and the Telangana State Government, and donated 275 pints of blood. Ismaili CIVIC India also organised a mental health awareness session for the Lions Club and staff of the Municipal Corporation in Gujarat.

Ismaili Council for Kenya President Shamira Dostmohamed announced a new partnership with AKF on their GROW initiative, to create microforests throughout East Africa. They began with 200 trees at the Aga Khan Academy Nairobi, and planted a mangrove forest in Mombasa. Four microforests have been planted in Tanzania and the partnership with AKF will be expanded to other countries to help purify the air in African cities.

The Jamat in Angola took part for the first time, while the Democratic Republic of Congo's Minister of Communication acknowledged the DRC Jamat's contributions in a video message. He thanked them for their efforts during the pandemic in supplying masks and testing kits, and notebooks for school children.

In Bangladesh, volunteers spent time with senior’s citizens, offering kindness and enjoying laughter together. The visits brought hope and brightened the lives of those who need it most.

Partnering for progress

Across North America, Jamats came together in large numbers for GICD. The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia even issued a proclamation declaring 24 September as Ismaili CIVIC Day. In Toronto, volunteers engaged in sustainability discussions and removed invasive plants in partnership with the Prince’s Trust. Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani attended events in Edmonton where volunteers collaborated with the city’s Roof for Trees initiative to plant 430 trees and shrubs.

Gwinnett County in Atlanta also issued a proclamation recognising Ismaili CIVIC Day and volunteers partnered with Georgia Interfaith Power & Light and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to commemorate World River Day. At Lions Club Park, volunteers cleared a 40x40 foot riparian zone, planting native grasses and flowers, while others did the same at the 46-acre Autrey Mill Nature Preserve. In Houston, volunteers cleaned up the Buffalo Bayou river while volunteers in Birmingham, Alabama, cleaned a park, making the local news in the process.

Since Ismaili CIVIC began its work in 2021, volunteers from 33 countries have donated over 500,000 hours of their time, partnered with 600 organisations, planted three million trees, removed 163,000 kilograms of waste, and organised blood drives that have likely saved many lives. The work continues year-round, and underscores the commitment of Ismaili CIVIC to make a positive impact locally and globally, fostering a more compassionate, equitable, and sustainable world.