This year marks 100 years since the establishment of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps. While volunteerism has always been an integral part of the Ismaili tradition, the IVC was formally created in India in 1919 and later spread to other parts of the world.
Through this unified organisation, individuals of all ages have been able to serve their Jamats and the Imam-of-the-Time. Here, we look ahead to the future of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps by featuring young volunteers from around the world.
As a Girl Guide volunteer at Sultanabad Jamatkhana in Pakistan, 18-year-old Arisha Wadani’s main responsibility is to serve elderly members of the Jamat.
“I am happiest when I am volunteering,” Arisha said “Seeing the smile on the seniors’ faces is truly priceless.”
Along with serving in Jamatkhana, Girl Guides meet on Sunday mornings to learn new skills, socialise with each other, and plan service projects. Each year, Arisha’s Guides group carries out a service project inspired by a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. In the past, her group has worked on issues including gender equity, poverty alleviation, and health education.
Arisha, who also leads an organisation dedicated to helping girls gain access to menstrual education and sanitary products, plans on studying design in the future and continuing to contribute to the society around her.
“By studying design, I hope to apply my skills to creating solutions to help those who are less fortunate.”
“When I volunteer in Jamatkhana, I feel like I am making a difference and encouraging other volunteers too,” said 18-year-old Ali Alhaj.
Ali is a volunteer at Daar Al Karamaneh Jamatkhana in Syria, where his responsibilities include supporting local programmes and caring for members of the Jamat. His favourite duty is working with children.
“By helping young children, we can make sure that they have the right tools to succeed,” he said. Ali, who is also a talented artist, is currently attending medical school. He plans on one day studying dentistry abroad.
“As a dentist, I would be able to help underprivileged people in Syria who currently cannot afford dental care and dental hygiene.”
For Anisa Zulfova, a 20-year-old student from Khorog, Tajikistan, volunteering holds a special place in her heart.
“Volunteering is the golden thread in our tradition,” Anisa said. “It provides an opportunity to build new skills and unites us all.”
Volunteering takes on many forms for Anisa. From providing literacy tutoring to organising cultural events about the Pamir region, her passion lies in helping lift those in her community. She is currently pursuing business studies at the American University of Central Asia. After completing her degree, Anisa hopes to continue her education in Europe.
“I want to become a business woman in order to help my community, specifically the younger generation.”
“I love volunteering in Jamatkhana because I want the youth in our community to feel more connected to the Jamat,” said 17-year-old Ari Surani.
Ari currently serves as the Youth Lead at Belle Rive Jamatkhana in Edmonton, Canada. As part of his role, he is responsible for helping other young volunteers and for facilitating youth events. Whether it's through setting up for a movie night or teaching a religious education class, his favourite duties are ones where he gets to interact with other youth.
“I just love seeing the kids having fun!” he said.
In the future, Ari plans to study business at the University of Alberta and hopes to continue being able to give back to the community.