On a cold Saturday morning in November, the first preparations for an exceptional weekend begin. More than a hundred members of the Jamats of Paris, Brussels, Lausanne, Nantes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Grenoble, and Lyon work together towards a common goal: to prepare and distribute meals for the homeless.

For many decades, volunteers have been serving the Jamat with generosity and humility throughout the jurisdiction, in Belgium, Switzerland, Ivory Coast, and France. In November 2019, we marked the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, by holding celebrations worldwide.

Mawlana Hazar Imam has often spoken about social engagement, and bringing help to those most vulnerable. These values are important aspects of our ethic of volunteering.

In a speech made in Berlin in 2005, he said, “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 a 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.”

With this in mind, and with the willingness to share these values with the younger generation, 50 children from Paris and Brussels Bait-ul Ilms were tasked with making more than 500 meals for the homeless in the space of just a few hours. Numerous volunteers then walked the streets of the big cities within the jurisdiction to distribute an impressive total of more than a thousand sandwiches, bottles of water, biscuits, and litres of soup to those in need.

After the weekend of service and celebration, Paris volunteer Shayan Anvar, summed it up well, saying, “I really enjoyed giving my time to those in need. I was able to talk to the people and put a smile on their faces, even if just for a small moment. To me, it is priceless. This tradition of volunteering unites us, and we must maintain, preserve, and amplify it throughout generations. We cannot be happier than when helping others.”

Volunteering can take many forms and is available to anyone, regardless of age. As the year of celebrations comes to a close, the spirit of this period is still present and demonstrates the strength and depth of values conveyed throughout generations, across continents.