“I didn’t believe it until I was shaking his hand,” Zameer Rayani admits. When his presence was requested at Amazon’s recent All-Hands Meeting in Seattle, he didn’t even share with his family or friends. After all, no one from the HR department had ever won the award in the company’s 25-year history, but with numerous Ismaili Amazonians live-streaming the event around the world, messages like this spread like wildfire on social media: “Do you know Zameer Rayani? Sounds Ismaili, he just got an award from Bezos at our company All-Hands!”
It is a rare and historic honor to have an object in space named after an individual. It is usually reserved for someone who first discovers it, generally after years of painstaking observation of the night sky through giant telescopes. So to be recognized in this manner is indeed an occasion worthy of note. Yet, this is precisely what happened at the end of 2018.
Born a premature baby at Orlando Heath Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Maya Tharoo weighed only one pound and fourteen ounces with a height of twelve inches. Maya’s journey into this world began with a surgery on her small intestine combined with multiple other health challenges, required her to remain at the hospital for 110 days. She believes she owes her life to the excellent care and dedication provided by the team of doctors and her family. Today, she has dedicated her life to raising awareness and serving that medical institution as her cause.
The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center (IJKC) in Sugar Land was transformed into a bustling site on December 7, 2018, as countless individuals made their way to donate thousands of pounds of food. For the third consecutive year, IJKC hosted the annual ABC 13 Share Your Holidays Food Drive where over 100 I-CERV volunteers gather to help collect, package, and transport over 30,000 pounds of donated food to the East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry, located in Stafford, Texas.
A junior in high school, Insha Merchant has been blessed with experiences that would be the envy of students her age.
In the summer of 2017, Insha participated in Global Encounters, the international service and leadership development camp that annually brings together Ismaili youth from multiple countries and diverse cultures. Although she would be one of the 720 participants since its inception in 2012, hers would be the first camp to be based in Pakistan. As part of the camp, Insha had the opportunity to spend a week in the beautiful and pristine Gilgit and Hunza in Northern Pakistan.
When Zoya Surani and her sisters began iConquer in 2012, little did they know that their idea would evolve into a nutrition curriculum that would be sought after by numerous states around the nation, and commended by a Canadian Senator.
On August 18 and 19,650 members of the Midwest Jamat and neighboring communities of Chicago, Glenview, Milwaukee and Naperville, collaborated with Illinois' Feed My Starving Children to prepare and pack nutritionally complete meals for malnourished children around the world. In six hours, this group of volunteers was able to pack over 155,000 meals, enough to provide food for 420 children for a full year.
Previously featured in “Students’ Plans for the Impoverished,” Sanya Pirani, then eight years old, embarked upon a mission to feed children around the world. She partnered with Feed My Starving Children to feed a 700-person village in Letant, Haiti, for an entire year. Sanya successfully raised $16,000 dollars. Her efforts in charity did not stop there. She raised money for a crisis nursery and collected non-perishables for a food-drive held at local libraries. These are only a few of Sanya’s contributions to help humanity.
In celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, Ismaili volunteers came together across the country to serve their communities to mark the end of Ramadan.
Twenty-four youth from Long Island and New York Jamatkhana were presented with this award, signed by the President of the United States, at a ceremony on June 30, 2018 at Great Neck Library, Long Island.
The annual Global Encounters program brings together Ismaili youth from the around the world to provide a broad, global perspective, ground students in the ethics of our faith, and inspire them to be change-makers in their home communities and the world at large. But, for many participants, the experience has a long-lasting impact on their lives.