The Donor: Gulnar Carlisle

The Gift: $52,000 and climbing

The Cause: The Aga Khan Foundation

The Reason: To support development projects in Kenya

When Gulnar Carlisle was 21 years old her parents made a fateful decision.

It was 1977 and Ms. Carlisle and her family were living in Kenya. Neighbouring Uganda was in turmoil at the time because of the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin. Fearing the trouble might spread across the border, Ms. Carlisle’s parents sent her to Vancouver to live with an uncle.

Over the next 30 years, Ms. Carlisle built a new life, family and career in Canada, never returning to her native country. That changed in 2008 with news that a global Ismaili sports festival, sponsored by the Aga Khan, was going to be held in Nairobi. Ms. Carlisle jumped at the chance to visit Kenya and entered the tennis competition, winning a place on the Canadian team.

Before she went to the games she decided to raise some money for Kenyan development projects run by the Aga Khan Foundation. “When I had the opportunity to go there I knew I had to make some difference in the level of poverty in Kenya because I had seen that first hand,” she recalled.

Ms. Carlisle raised $17,000, which was used to build a water reservoir and a school in a remote village called Chanzou. During her trip to Nairobi for the competition, Ms. Carlisle and her husband, Jack, visited the village to see the projects. “I was actually blown away by how these villagers had become completely self-sufficient on such little money from the Aga Khan Foundation,” she said.

After returning home to Vancouver, Ms. Carlisle started raising more money for the foundation. She raised $35,000 last year and hopes to raise $25,000 this year at the upcoming World Partnership Walk, which takes place on May 30 in several Canadian cities.

Ms. Carlisle, a financial planner with Investors Group, said the trip to Kenya left a deep impression. “It was unbelievable how poverty had just taken over the country,” she said. “When we went to these really, really remote villages that’s when it hit me. They live on less than $2 a day. It really inspired me that I have to do something to make a difference for these people.”


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