Monday
May 30,2011

Families, corporate teams among those who take stroll through Stanley Park to fight poverty in developing nations

The World Partnership Walk, held under sunny skies in Stanley Park on Sunday, raised more than $2 million to help fight poverty in developing countries, organizers said.

The walk benefits global development projects supported by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

What began in Vancouver in 1980 as a fundraiser and celebration of giving for Vancouver’s Ismaili community has become a national event with walks in Toronto and Victoria on the same day, and walks in other Canadian cities later this month.

“What makes the walk unique,” said representative Karim Salemohammed, “is that it is underwritten by the Aga Khan foundation, and 100 per cent of all funds raised goes to projects around the world.”

Walkers, including families and corporate teams, took advantage of the sunny day to walk five kilometres through Stanley Park before joining festivities that included bhangra and other musical performances at Lumbermen’s Arch.

They also had a chance to taste some Ismaili specialties, including sugar cane juice, fresh-cut young coconut, tamarind seeds and traditional barbecue.

The Aga Kahn Foundation Canada is a non-denominational registered charity dedicated to finding solutions to global poverty through grassroots projects focusing on education, sanitation, clean water and rural economic ventures in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“The walk is really all Canadians saying we care about the world. We can do something locally and make a difference globally,” said Salemohammed.

Jameel Dawood, a volunteer at the walk’s global village tent, said what he finds most exciting about working with AKF Canada is the partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency, which meets every dollar raised with a corresponding amount of $8 or $9.

“Just $10 can educate a child in a developing country for a year,” he said.

“Most projects we support start at a grassroots level and use a sandwich approach, bringing research and development and best practices to communities at a grassroots level.”

Funds raised through the annual walk and other Aga Khan Foundation events and partnerships go to communities in countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Mozambique and Kenya.

Since 1980, the event has raised more than $60 million.

Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/World+Partnership+Walk+garners+
more+than+million+world+poor/4859688/story.html#ixzz1NsiTDEUc

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  Posted in         Ismaili News
Thursday
Apr 21,2011

The Nizamuddin Basti, the centre of Hindustani culture for centuries, will soon come alive with qawwali performances in its authentic settings. In an effort to revive qawwali traditions and bring alive its roots in the Nizammudin Basti, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) is documenting and archiving qawwali traditions, and now also handpicking children from traditional qawwal families to train them to carry the tradition forward.

While preserving the dying qawwali tradition, the Trust hopes to simultaneously create spaces in the Nizamuddin Basti, like the Chaunsath Khamba, the Central Park opposite the MCD school and the Dargah, where regular performances can take place. As part of a cultural revival initiative called the ‘Aalam-e-Khusrau’, co-funded by the Ford Foundation, the Trust is facilitating public performances, discussions, research, archiving and documenting, research fellowships, scholarship programmes and multimedia exhibitions on Khusrau.

Since its beginning in the 13th-14th Century by the Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya in Ghiyaspur, qawwali is said to have been adapted in many situations and variations, but all of them display the distinct musical style and structure of the present-day qawwali. Amir Khusrau, the most beloved disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, supposedly created this style of music as a form of veneration.

Scholars, however, say the tradition is now dying out. Children in qawwal families are found to carry the tradition forward, but without any formal knowledge of music. To train them, AKTC is now in the process of hand-picking children from these families from the Nizamuddin Basti, Chitli Qabar in Old Delhi and Fatehpur Sikri. They will be sent to maestros in classical music for formal training.

Last year, the ‘Jashn-e-Khusrau’ programme included khanaqahi qawwali performances, poetry-reading, lectures and discussions on qawwali and Amir Khusrau, exhibitions depicting the world of Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin and the Basti area urban renewal projects, as well as heritage walks through the settlement of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.

A similar programme is being planned for 2012, when a travelling exhibition-cum-workshop will also travel to UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Jammu-Kashmir, where the AKTC is documenting and archiving the existing qawwali traditions.

The AKTC has also put forth a suggestion to the Ministry of Culture to set up an Amir Khusrau Resource Centre that can house books, manuscripts, illustrations, recordings and artifacts pertaining to Khusrau’s legacy.

The AKTC has proposed that the centre be located in the Nizamuddin area, while regular events can be organised at central locations like the India International Centre and monuments such as Chaunsath Khamba that will create an interface between performers and scholars to ensure that Khusrau’s legacy is carried on.

“Qawwali traditions initiated by Hazrat Amir Khusrau here in the Nizamuddin area in the 14th Century are as much our contribution to the world’s heritage as Humayun’s Tomb. Hopefully this programme will lead to the revival of the pure art and generate greater interest amongst the younger generation while giving the qawwals new performance venues and greater recognition,” Ratish Nanda, project director, AKTC, told Newsline.

“Nizamuddin Basti has been the cradle of Hindustani culture for 700 years and we hope to revive it through these programmes.”

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  Posted in         Ismaili News
Sunday
Mar 20,2011

When one talks about philanthropy, our minds might run straight to Hollywood celebrities, but the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims has a special niche in that category, writes Edwin Nuwagaba.

Aga Khan Leadership

The Aga Khan was born Prince Karim in 1936 in Geneva and declared healthy despite being premature. He is the son of Prince Aly Khan and his wife Princess Tajudaulah (Joan Yarde-Buller), daughter of Lord Churston. After spending his early childhood in Nairobi Kenya, where his early education was done by private tutoring, he attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland and graduated from Harvard University with an honours degree in Islamic history in 1959. Aga Khan IV succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, to the Imamat on July 11, 1957 at the age of 20.

He is the 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Nizari Ismailis, the largest branch of the Ismaili followers of the Shia faith and is the alleged direct descendant of the Islamic prophet Mohammad through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the first Imam, and his wife Fatimah, Mohammad’s daughter.

The Aga Khan, (third right) has not only shown clear headed and focused leadership to his followers, but has stretched out a generous hand to people outside his religion. As soon as he was crowned imam, he founded the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), whose work is mostly in Asia and Africa. The network is a group of development agencies whose interest lies in the environment, health, education, architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development and disaster reduction.

AKDN conducts its programmes without regard to faith, origin or gender and is said to be one of the world’s largest private development agencies. But the Aga Khan has expressed concern about the work of the AKDN being described as philanthropy.

“Reflecting a certain historical tendency of the West to separate the secular from the religious, they often describe the work of the AKDN either as philanthropy or entrepreneurship. What is not understood is that this work is for us part of our institutional responsibility it flows from the mandate of the office of Imam to improve the quality of worldly life for the concerned communities.”

However, this has not stopped him from giving and reaching out to the poorest of communities. But to be able to sustain abilities to give, he conducts his philanthropic work with a business mind.

The Aga Khan married his first wife, the famous model Sarah “Sally” Frances Croker-Poole, who assumed the name HH Begum Salima Aga Khan, on October 22, 1969 (civil) and October 28, 1969 (religious) at his home in Paris. The couple were married for 25 years and have three children: Princess Zahra, born September 18, 1970, Prince Rahim Aga Khan, born October 12, 1971 and Prince Hussain Aga Khan, born April 10, 1974. They divorced in 1995.

The Aga Khan married his second wife, Gabriele Thyssen, (fourth right)who assumed the name Begum Inaara Aga Khan. “Inaara” is derived from Arabic nur, meaning light. They have a son, Prince Aly Muhammad Aga Khan, born 7 March 2000 and a stepdaughter, Princess Theresa of Leiningen.

While he is a Muslim leader, this suave man passes for a moderate one and for that he has been criticised by extreme Muslims. Instead of traditional robes, he often wears suits, a trait that was influenced by his long stay and studying in the western world. But that, in the first place, is the reason his grandfather chose him as leader. In his own words, the old man said that having seen the changes that were taking place in the world and the numerous discoveries most notably of atomic science, it was in the interest of the Ismaili community for him to be succeeded by a man who had grown up and developed in the new age. In fact, his grandfather skipped the Aga Khan’s father, who was in direct line of succession. It is because of this that the Aga Khan has sometimes been referred to as Imam of the Atomic Age by Ismailis.

He has individually contributed donations to human causes more than any individual and most countries. And he is known by economists to take big risks. While other venture capitalists tend to shy away from third world countries, he has invested largely in countries like Uganda, recently investing in hydro electric production at Bujagali Falls.

His other investments in Uganda include Industrial Promotion Services, Kampala Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, Leather Industries of Uganda Ltd, Uganda Fishnet Manufacturers Ltd, West Nile rural Electrification Co., Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust, Diamond Trust Bank, The Jubilee Insurance Company, The Monitor Publications Ltd, Aga Han Hospital Kampala, Aga Khan schools, and Tourism Promotion Services (Uganda) Ltd (Serena hotels and resorts) among others. Yes, all this may sound like straight business, but the Aga Khan does it differently from popular tycoons. He makes money, but it is not his topmost priority.

What motivates him is embedded in his famous 1983 quote in India: There are those who enter the world in such poverty that they are deprived of both means and the motivation to improve their circumstances. Unless they can be touched with the spark which ignites the spirit of individual enterprise and determination, they will only sink into apathy, degradation and despair. It is for us, who are more fortunate, to provide that spark.” Spoken like a true leader.

Source: Daily Monitor

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