Over the past two years, the challenges and hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have had a lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of all segments of society. Throughout the crisis, the Dawoodi BohrasProject Rise volunteers across the world have stepped up, providing a ray of hope and optimism by taking actions that have provided a much-needed boost to social, environmental, and economic development.

These volunteers have worked selflessly to plan and implement innovative and sustained programmes to build and promote healthier and more resilient communities.

The passion and purpose of Project Rise begins with its volunteers. Hence, starting this year, we’ve launched our ‘Project Rise Action Awards’ to shine a light on these volunteers and applaud their outstanding work to help uplift vulnerable members of society.

The winners of this year’s inaugural award were judged independently and were categorised based on

Innovation – Recognising efforts of volunteers who have successfully promoted a cause or taken action by adopting a unique approach.

Sustainability – Honouring transformational initiatives that have created a sustained and lasting impact over time.

Engagement – Recognising campaigns that have generated important partnerships to build awareness at all levels (national, provincial, state, city, town) of society.

Since its inception in 2018, Project Rise – the philanthropic arm of the Dawoodi Bohra community – has been supporting vulnerable members of society around the world through better education, healthcare, nutrition, water and sanitation, and environmental protection. Solving real problems in the lives of real and needy people have been the cornerstone of Project Rise activities whether they are disaster relief or systemic issues.

USA

Winner: Detroit

Category – Sustainability

Food Drives & Recycling Events Throughout the Year

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Detroit community continued its regular philanthropic efforts. To mark World Food Day, Project Rise volunteers hosted a second annual drive-thru food pantry for people facing food insecurity in the neighbourhood. They joined with human-I-T on World Environment Day – attended by State Representative Samantha Steckloff – to responsibly collect electronic waste for proper disposal or donation. Detroit also continued its long-term partnership providing support to Zaman, which helps marginalised women and children.

Runner up: San Francisco

Category – Innovation

Community Garden Project

A seventeen-year-old Dawoodi Bohra high school student, Maryam Suratwala, spearheaded a community garden project as a part of her Girl Scout Gold Award community service project. This initiative was part of her goal to educate the younger generation and build a lasting impact on the environment we live in. State Assembly member Bill Quirk commended Maryam’s endeavour and the Bohra community’s efforts to educate and encourage sustainability among youth.

CANADA

Winner: Vancouver

Category – Innovation

Supporting Victims of Flooding in British Columbia

The Greater Vancouver Area coordinated a Canada-wide Bohra effort to collect supplies and financial donations to support relief efforts in aid of communities severely impacted by the recent floods in lower mainland BC. Murtaza Delhiwala, a local licensed pilot, flew rescue missions, picking up stranded people and bringing them to safety, dropping off essential items, delivering over 750 lbs of supplies and coordinating the collection of cash donations from Dawoodi Bohra communities across Canada.

Runner up: Calgary

Category – Sustainability

Regular Food & Clothing Donations Throughout the Year

Keeping warm in winter is a challenge for homeless people. This Fall, volunteers from the Dawoodi Bohra community of Calgary helped young people without permanent shelter to prepare for colder temperatures by donating hats, underwear, mittens & gift cards. To mark World Food Day 2021, the Calgary community undertook a four-day food drive in aid of the Veterans Food Bank in Calgary, which supports veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, Reserves and First Responders that are eligible for assistance.

UK

Winner: Bradford

Category – Engagement

Supporting Bradford City Council’s ‘Tree For Every Child’ Drive

Members of the Bradford community battled through the snow to participate in the planting of 10,000 trees for Bradford Council’s ‘Tree for Every Child’ scheme. In an effort to combat climate change, the City of Bradford is seeking to plant a tree for every primary school child in the city. Joining other volunteers, including local Member of Parliament Judith Cummins, the Bradford Bohras helped plant trees in Newhall Park that they hope will one day create a forest canopy for the local community to enjoy whilst supporting habitats and food sources for urban wildlife and bringing splashes of colour to the park throughout the year.

Runner up: London

Category – Sustainability

Afternoon Chai fundraiser

Since 2018, women of the London community have held an afternoon chai and baked goods fundraiser in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. As well as raising awareness of the great work undertaken by Macmillan throughout the UK, the annual event celebrates the coming together of a community for a great charitable cause. This year’s Afternoon Chai was attended by neighbours and local police. It was part of a series of events held by the Dawoodi Bohras’ Ladies of London to support a range of charities, including Shooting Star Children’s Hospices and MIND, which works for better mental health.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Winner: Kuwait

Category – Sustainability

Generating Acceptance and Advocacy by Building a Sustained Body of Work

What started as simple participation in a cleanup drive organised by Al-Nowair Foundation in Kuwait in 2020 has now become a sustained programme. The Dawoodi Bohras of Kuwait have embraced this opportunity to work alongside HH Sheikha Intisar Al Sabah – a philanthropist and princess of the House of Al Sabah, the ruling family of Kuwait to fight the cause of plastic pollution. Some of the collaborative efforts include regular cleanup programmes and hosting ‘Waste to Wealth’ exhibitions showcasing Bohra women’s art to convert plastic waste into useful items at the UN house.

Runner up: The Kingdom of Bahrain

Category – Innovation

Mobilising Youngsters to Champion the Cause of Reducing Plastic Pollution

To mark World Oceans Day, Bahrain came up with an innovative idea and took the lead in organising a Middle-East wide painting competition that saw participation from around 500 students between the ages of 5 and 15. The initiative aimed at creating awareness about the importance of oceans and their significance in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. This programme extended Bahrain’s sustained efforts to undertake various environmental initiatives with local stakeholders.

Francophone

Winner: Antananarivo

Category: Innovation

Ambovombe Food Drive

Volunteers travelled over two and a half days to the drought stricken region, providing 20,000 meals and pumping in water and other essential supplies to the region with government officials in tow. Also noteworthy is their success in registering Project Rise as an official association and a separate bank account for funds.

Runner Up: Réunion

Category: Sustainability

Regular Food Drives

Volunteers have kept up the momentum to provide cooked meals in various locations and capacities.

East Africa

Winner: Mombasa, Kenya

Category: Sustainability

VOI Primary School Breakfast Initiative

HSB Volunteers, an alumni group of the MSB Educational Institute in Mombasa, completed a year of their daily feeding program at VOI Primary school in October 2021. As part of a sustained program, students were served a nutritious porridge breakfast to give them a boost for the upcoming school day. The school’s principal, Mr Mumia Mvurya acknowledged the positive impact of this program by saying, ‘Our students were unable to concentrate in the classes due to extreme hunger, but now that’s changing.’

Runner Up: Nairobi, Kenya

Category: Engagement

75th Anniversary Celebrations of Kenya Wildlife Sanctuary

The Nairobi community made positive interventions in different focus areas of Project Rise throughout the year particularly in the environment and wildlife conversation. These activities helped community members engage with like-minded groups and individuals, generating positive conversations and inspired change among local communities.

India (Tier I)

Winners: Chennai & Kolkata

Category: Engagement

Engaging Stakeholders Across the Board to Make a Positive Impact

The Chennai community has been engaging stakeholders across the board in a year that saw them conduct mass vaccination drives, blood donation camps, ladies’ welfare activities and slum area cleanups. Volunteers also undertook the ‘Zero Hunger Squad’ campaign, where they continue serving cooked food on a daily basis to the most vulnerable sections of society.

On a similar parallel, the Kolkata community has been on its toes to alleviate the predicaments faced by the less fortunate by coordinating with local councils in different wards to conduct food distribution drives and inter-faith programmes. The community also hosted an inter-faith meet, inviting stakeholders across the board to showcase the vibrancy of a diverse and inclusive nation as part of the celebrations of India’s 75 years of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

Runner Up: Marol

Category: Sustainability

Turning the Tide against Plastic Pollution

At a time when plastic pollution has become an imminent threat to the balance of the ecosystem, community members in Marol have been actively campaigning to deter the usage of plastics. For more than a year now, volunteers have been engaging citizens living in nearby neighbourhoods by going door-to-door on a weekly basis and collecting plastic material from households in a symbolic gesture, thereby raising awareness about the perils of plastic. Additionally, young volunteers from Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, a community-run university, are also joining the Marol team for weekly waste segregation and cleanup drives. The campaign is part of the community’s ‘Turning the Tide Against Plastic Pollution,’ initiative in association with UN Champion of the Earth, Adv Afroz Shah.

India (Tier II)

Winner: Coimbatore

Category: Sustainability

Distributing Food on a Regular Basis Under Zero Hunger Squad

In 2021, as the country was coming out of lockdowns, the ground reality for a large section of marginalised communities was sombre where thousands of people were finding it difficult to make ends meet. In the spirit of humanitarian service, Dawoodi Bohra volunteers from Coimbatore initiated a sustained food security programme named ‘Zero Hunger Squad’. The aim of the programme was to reduce the impact of the pandemic on marginalised communities and serve cooked meals to them on a sustained-weekly basis. In addition to this, the Coimbatore community stepped forward during the Jamnagar flood crisis by providing essential aid & equipment to the worst affected sections in Jamnagar.

Runner Up: Panvel

Category: Engagement

Active Intervention Across all Focus Areas of Project Rise

The Panvel community has regularly conducted activities across all major focus areas of Project Rise and has done so by engaging with other non-profit organisations and regional stakeholders to effect impactful outcomes in their local communities. From distributing food and medical supplies to donating blood and planting trees, the community has put a concerted effort for the uplift of their communities. They have found support and trustworthy partners in the likes of the ‘Rotaract club of Panvel Industrial town’ & ‘Mhatre Foundation’ among several samaritan organisations who have joined hands to make a collective impact.

AUSTRALIA

Winner: Melbourne

Category: Sustainability

Partnering with Food Banks to provide sustained food assistance

Community members in Melbourne regularly collaborated with local partners and Food Banks to provide food assistance to vulnerable communities that have been hit by the pandemic.

Besides food and nutrition, volunteers also undertook regular cleanups drives as part of Project Rise’s global campaign, Turning the Tide Against Plastic Pollution.

Runner Up: Auckland

Category – Innovative

Supporting New Zealand’s Nationwide Vaccination Drive

The New Zealand Government launched ‘Super Saturday’, a nationwide vaccination drive calling on every eligible New Zealander to get their shot. The Dawoodi Bohras of Auckland rolled up their sleeves to support the country’s first ‘Vaxathob’ by volunteering and serving refreshments to those who got vaccinated. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Greens Member of Parliament Chlöe Swarbrick were appreciative of the Auckland Dawoodi Bohras’ noble gesture to serve locals.