“It is an amazing feeling to volunteer alongside other members of the Jamat at the largest event Vancouver has ever hosted,” said Kahir Lalji, an Ismaili volunteer.
Through CIVIC – Challenging Ismaili Volunteers in Communities – a youth based programme that focuses the energy of young Ismailis towards improving the wellbeing of the communities in which they live, younger members of the Jamat were also invited to help welcome the world. Volunteers aged 18-25 responded enthusiastically, signing up rapidly to take on the role of youth ambassadors.
“We were given the opportunity to volunteer at one of the busiest downtown locations,” said Adam Samji, a youth volunteer. “It was a great feeling to represent the Ismaili community in our special green jackets and to showcase our spirit of volunteerism.”
Ismaili volunteers benefit from the recent experience of organising large events that commemorated Mawlana Hazar Imam's Golden Jubilee, as well as the Jamat's Khushiali celebrations that take place every year. Their performance has garnered applause from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), who requested their organisation and management expertise to streamline other volunteer host locations.
“We are fortunate to have attracted a large and diverse application pool of people from around the world who are willing to volunteer for the Games,” said Allen Vansen, who is responsible for workforce operations at VANOC. According to the organisation, more than 77,000 people applied to donate their time and talent to contribute to the success of the Games.
In addition to taking part as Olympic Ambassadors, the community has also partnered with VANOC in other ways. Some Ismaili volunteers received specialised training from the Olympic Organizing Committee to chauffeur senior government officials and ministers to Olympics Special VIP Events. VANOC also engaged the community's assistance in managing Olympics-related events.
On 11 February, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, hosted the 2010 Olympic Truce Youth Dialogue at the Vancouver Public Library, which was attended by over 500 youth from across Canada. Following a similar successful event held at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby in September, VANOC asked the community to co-manage and provide human resources.
After the dialogue, the Governor General met with the Ismaili volunteers and expressed her appreciation for their contributions towards the success of the event, recalling the earlier Truce Dialogue at the Ismaili Centre.