Faiz al-Mawaid

A groundbreaking initiative that saw the establishment of community kitchens in towns and cities in different parts of the world where members of the Dawoodi Bohra community reside, the Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah (FMB) programme was established with one overarching objective: to provide at least one wholesome and nutritious meal a day to every community household.

FMB was initiated by the 52nd al-Dai al-Mutlaq Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, who often expressed an earnest, but seemingly insurmountable desire: to ensure that no member of the Dawoodi Bohra community anywhere in the world go to bed hungry. Launched in August 2011, this novel initiative today benefits over 135,000 community households in 869 cities across the world.

Apart from permanent staff, over 7,000 Bohra volunteers strive to keep the community kitchens running and ensure that fresh, nutritious meals are delivered on time each and every day. Run with voluntary donations from community members, FMB brings together every member of the community, regardless of socio-economic status. Over the past ten years, FMB has further expanded outside the Bohra community to include numerous sustained efforts to provide food to the hungry and impoverished as well as aid and relief supplies during emergencies and natural calamities.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s son and successor, the 53rd and present al-Dai al-Mutlaq Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, has been instrumental in every aspect of its implementation right from its inception ten years ago. Through his directions and guidance, FMB has managed to achieve its objectives: ensuring food security with a focus on providing healthy and nutritious meals, strengthening community bonds, empowering women, preventing food waste and enabling spiritual as well as material enrichment.


The original meaning of faiz (or fayd) indicates an effusion or outpouring, such as water gushing from a stream or a glass filled until the liquid overflows. It has come to connote anything that is profuse or in abundance; for example, abundant generosity. In the name Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah, faiz is understood as the abundant blessings or bounties that flow from the mawaid of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.


Mawaid is the plural of maaidat, which refers to a dining platter filled with food, or more specifically, the thaal, the large steel platters around which Dawoodi Bohras traditionally sit and dine. Found in the Quran and featuring in Fatimi traditions, the term represents a bounty of Allah in the form of plentiful food. Bohra communal dining halls, where these mawaid, or thaals, are placed, are also themselves referred to as Mawaid.


An adjective that attributes the mawaid  to Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin. For the Dawoodi Bohras, the name Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah is a continuing reminder of the  blessings and benevolence  of Syedna Burhanuddin.


Prophet Mohammed states that ‘There is no deed greater than feeding the hungry.’ These words continue to resonate in the hearts of the members of the Dawoodi Bohra community to this day. Food offers more than mere nutritional value and good health. Islam teaches that food is a divine blessing, the grateful acceptance of which is a form of worship. Sharing food, moreover, is a way of taking care of the vulnerable, bridging societal gaps and bringing the community together. The spirituality inherent in hosting another for a meal or providing food to others, therefore, qualifies it as one of the noblest of deeds.

The impetus to feed others stems from an age-old tradition that can be traced to the forefathers of the Prophet Mohammed and has continued to flourish throughout the history of Islam.  Maulana Hashim ibn Abde Manaf, the forefather of Prophet Mohammed, was renowned for providing food and water to Hajj pilgrims year after year. During a time of great famine, he also took it upon himself to feed the entire population of Makkah at his own expense. He did this by preparing a unique dish called tharid, made by mixing bread with meat and broth— a dish fondly known in the community today as hashmo, derived from the name ‘Hashim’ 

The Prophet Mohammed’s legatee, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, would till over a thousand acres of land and use the proceeds to feed the people of Kufa during the holy month of Ramadan. His eminent sons Imam Hasan and Imam Husain ensured that all the people of Kufa, as well as travellers from other lands, were invited to partake in the meals and both Imams would personally serve food to those gathered. 

Likewise, his grandson and namesake, Imam Ali Zayn al-ʿAbideen, would go out each night after the members of his household had gone to sleep, carrying a vessel filled with food on his shoulder. He would go door to door, distributing food to one hundred households in need, making numerous trips to and from his home to refill the vessel throughout the night. 

The Fatimi Imams, descendants of the Prophet and his legatee, were renowned for their generosity and prepared mawaid (dining platters filled with food) for the masses in celebration of various occasions throughout the year. Most noteworthy among them were the iftar (breaking of fast) meals served during the holy month of Ramadan and the subsequent Eid al-Fitr feast. Food platters filled with servings of savoury and sweet dishes known as simaat were laid out for all, irrespective of social or financial standing. This practice inspired a culture of hosting commemorative meals that continues to endure throughout the Muslim world even today, especially in Egypt. Thus, the tradition of serving food to others was handed down from generation to generation, instilling in the community a spirit of togetherness.

Following in their footsteps, the daʿis,  representatives of the Fatimi Imams, preserved and nurtured this time-honoured custom of providing nourishment. The 34th daʿi, Syedna Ismail Badruddin, swore an oath that, if he were to be honoured with the community’s leadership he would assume responsibility for the sustenance of students. His legacy endures even today as meals continue to be provided to students in numerous community-run educational institutes, especially in Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, the community’s premier educational institute. 

In the wake of a drought that devastated Kathiawar at the turn of the 19th century, the 43rd dai Syedna Abdeali Saifuddin cared for twelve thousand community members in Surat. Syedna nurtured and nourished them for more than a year until they could return to their homes and once again provide for themselves. 

Throughout the history of the community, its leadership has upheld the noble tradition of providing sustenance, be it in times of hardship or of prosperity. Today, this tradition is continued by the 53rd leader of the community, His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin. Like his predecessor, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, on the two sacred occasions of 8th Muharram and 19th Ramadan which mark the martyrdom of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, His Holiness extends an invitation to each and every member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, to partake in the meal served that day, wherever in the world they reside. 

‘There is no prayer more powerful than the prayer that emanates from someone whose hunger has been satiated for the person who has provided the meal.’

– His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin


Head Office

Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah has its head office in Badri Mahal, Mumbai, which houses the headquarters of Dawat-e-Hadiyah, His Holiness’ administration and secretariat. It is from here that a dedicated team of around forty members oversees FMB operations all around the world, ensuring that FMB thaalis, as the tiffins are fondly called, are delivered to 135,000 community households in 869 cities every day. When FMB began a decade ago, the foremost challenge was managing the worldwide logistics of the community kitchens, a truly Herculean task. Finding the right cooks, procuring fresh ingredients, planning the menu and organising volunteers and funds were elements of the system that needed meticulous attention. But the process was soon streamlined. Today, each community kitchen runs with near clockwork precision.

Menu and Diet 

Feeding thousands of people every single day is a challenging task. Ensuring that the meals prepared are not only flavourful and nutritious but are also like fresh, home-cooked meals makes this task even more challenging.  The FMB team of volunteers comprises professionals such as doctors, dieticians, nutritionists and chefs, who give advice in planning daily menus for the entire year. These menus include regional and seasonal foods. The aim is for the meals to contain all the necessary elements of a balanced diet while meeting the recommended calorie count and nutritional value. Emphasis is also placed on acquiring fresh organic produce from reliable local vendors. Additionally, the use of certain detrimental ingredients is minimised such as trans fat, spices, and artificial colouring as well as artificial flavour enhancers which often bolster taste at the expense of nutritional value.   Depending on the day’s menu, the thaali may contain dal, rice, roti, sabzi, soup, salad, khichdi, chicken dishes, biryani, and other Dawoodi Bohra traditional dishes—and sweets on special occasions. For senior citizens with dietary constraints, the items on the menu are prepared with special care. The food is cooked with minimum oil and salt and ingredients in the meal include more vegetables, foods rich in calcium and protein to help strengthen bones and preserve muscle mass, and whole grains to replace refined carbohydrates.


Faid al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah is entirely funded by voluntary contributions from community members. Each household within a given town or city contributes to the local fund and in this manner, every member of the community has the opportunity to host their brothers and sisters for a meal and benefit from the spiritual reward promised by Islamic traditions to those who feed others.

42-year-old Rajkot-based businessman, Murtaza Sabbir Khokhar’s family is among the thousands of beneficiaries of FMB.

‘Sharing a meal and hosting others is an age-old Islamic tradition that we are proud to uphold. By contributing to the fund, we are not just contributing for ourselves but also for another fellow Dawoodi Bohra member’s food, which gives us spiritual satisfaction,’ says Khokhar.

‘It is a blessing in more ways than one. At this point, due to the extended pandemic, business is down. Everyone is facing some issue or the other. The fact that we know there is a fresh meal waiting for us every day gives us immense relief. For people affected by the pandemic, who are facing a medical issue or a financial worry, this initiative has been life-changing.’


Fresh produce and other perishables are procured at the beginning of each day from vendors as preparations for the day’s meal begin. In areas where daily procurement is not possible, cold storage facilities hold enough produce to last several days. Non-perishables are procured in bulk and kept in dedicated storage facilities. This practice has the dual benefit of increasing savings and ensuring a sufficient stockpile of supplies in the event of emergencies and natural calamities.

Smart Kitchens

His Holiness has emphasised the need for the kitchens to conform to high standards of efficiency, safety and hygiene. FMB continues to further its efforts to establish  ‘smart’ kitchens by establishing guidelines that give detailed requirements and recommendations for every aspect of the kitchen, from spatial requirements to drainage and exhaust systems, to construction material and finishes. More than 150 community kitchens have already been converted into such ‘smart’ kitchens and FMB aims to achieve its target of upgrading all community kitchens as part of its ten year anniversary.

Health, Safety and Hygiene

Hygiene is topmost on the priority list of all FMB community kitchens and accordingly, meals are prepared in strict accordance with health and safety regulations. All cooks, food handlers, and volunteers with access to the kitchen follow extensive SOPs and hygiene precautions and teams are regularly updated with the latest protocols. A fortnight of workshops and seminars featuring experts from the field are organised each year to sensitise local caterers, cooks, kitchen management staff and volunteers and keep them abreast with policies and guidelines as well as the latest developments in the fields of culinary science, kitchen management and nutrition. Since the beginning of the pandemic, additional measures like temperature checks, wearing masks and frequently sanitizing hands and surfaces have been added to the list of precautions.   

Regular quality and hygiene checks are conducted by supervisors on an everyday basis. In addition to daily cleaning procedures, all community kitchens across the world remain closed for a period of two weeks each year, in which thorough deep cleaning of the entire preparation, cooking and serving areas is done by professional cleaners.

Sixty-three-year-old Saifuddin Jabirali Khakhariyawala has been deeply involved in the operations of the community kitchen since 2013 when he lived in Kuwait. Having shifted to Dahod, India, Khakhariyawala now oversees all aspects—finance, operation, logistics—of the local community kitchen in the area. 

‘At Dahod, our kitchen provides dinner to 900 plus families. Prep in the kitchen starts by 2 p.m., and meals are dispatched in dabbas by 6 p.m. Sharing a meal brings the entire family together. Not only does it feed everyone, but the initiative also ensures that everyone, irrespective of their background, receives the exact same meal.’

‘The focus is on providing traditional, familiar food, similar to a fresh, home-cooked meal. There is a strict quality check in place—you will never find overcooked rice or a burnt roti in any dabba. We check everything, from the shape, size and colour of the rotis, to the consistency of the dal to the quantity of food that goes into each dabba.’


Meals are filled into the containers and made ready either for door-to-door delivery as is the practice in most towns and cities, or to be picked up from designated collection points. Whether delivered door-to-door or collected, distribution of the daily meal has the added benefit of creating an opportunity for community members to meet and interact with each other on a regular basis,  engage in meaningful conversations and enquire into each others’ wellbeing.

Every day, at 6:30 p.m., the Jhabuawala family in Dahod look forward to hearing the familiar sound of ‘Thaali lelo’ in their neighbourhood. ‘Food has arrived on time every single day for the past 10 years in every mohalla that has Dawoodi Bohra families. ’ says Mufaddalbhai Qurban Hussein Jhabuawala, 48, adding that the city of Dahod has six community kitchens and more than 2,000 families benefit from FMB. 

Across the border in Karachi, Pakistan, a similar scene unfolds in the morning. ‘Kitchen starts before 7:30 a.m., and the first set of dabbas are dispatched by 8:15 a.m.,’ explains Zohair Gain, a 55-year-old resident of Karachi who has been an integral part of FMB since 2012. There are 18 community kitchens in Karachi alone, and at least 30,000 people benefit from it. Being a part of the food industry himself, Gain understands the intricacies of running such an initiative. ‘We have a huge team of volunteers as well as staff, without whom such a large-scale project would not be possible anywhere globally,’ he explains. 


Initially, the goal of the FMB kitchens was limited to provide nutritious meals to members of the Dawoodi Bohra community across the world on a daily basis. However, over the past decade, true to the Islamic tradition of extending help and support to all creation, the functions of the initiative have accordingly been diversified. During the holy month of Ramadan, in addition to the iftar meals hosted in Bohra community centres across the world, packets of food rations enough to suffice households for the entire month are distributed for the early morning suhur meal taken in preparation for the day’s fast. The traditional meals served after sermons and majalis (gatherings) to commemorate numerous occasions have also come to benefit from the guidance and direction of the FMB administration, the most important being the days of Ashara Mubaraka, the ten days of mourning on Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

‘All of Creation is a family dependent upon Allah; the most beloved to Him, therefore, is the one who benefits His family the most.’ 

—Prophet Mohammed

FMB has also become an avenue for individuals to express and share their joys and sorrows with the rest of the community. Islamic customs encourage Muslims to feed others during occasions of joy, such as the birth of a child or wedding ceremonies, as well as moments of sadness, such as the passing of a loved one. In such instances, community members can send a meal to households in their vicinity, or even in different towns or countries altogether, through FMB. 

His Holiness has, over the years, expanded the mandate of the community kitchens to cater not just to the Dawoodi Bohras but to the larger community as well. In the aftermath of natural calamities, FMB kitchens have come to the aid of thousands of people, mobilising food relief efforts. Whether it is providing relief to those affected by floods in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chennai, and Rajasthan, or to those displaced by Hurricane Harvey which hit Texas and Louisiana or helping those affected by Cyclones Amphan and Nisarga, which battered the various parts of the Indian subcontinent, FMB kitchens have unfailingly risen to the occasion. In such trying times, volunteers risked their own well-being to feed the hungry and help those in need.

‘Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah must always be ready to serve our fellow human beings in need, especially in times of hardship and calamity.’

 —His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin


In the wake of the global Covid-19 crisis, His Holiness directed FMB kitchens and community organisations across the world to wholeheartedly come to the aid of those in need. This clarion call united volunteers worldwide who came forth to serve food to those affected by the unprecedented calamity.

Lockdowns across the world wreaked havoc on supply chains, disrupting the movement of personnel and critical equipment. However, the fact that FMB had been operating well-established community kitchens for almost a decade and had streamlined processes in place was a blessing, as it enabled the volunteers to adapt to the changes quickly. 

The Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, acknowledged these efforts during an online conference with various social welfare organisations and religious leaders, requesting the community to restart FMB kitchens in service of the nation during the lockdown. Subsequently, many FMB kitchens across India resumed operations after undergoing the requisite inspection from local authorities.

The year 2020 was an eventful one for FMB. With the support of local authorities, organizations, and charities, FMB set up food banks at numerous locations in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and other parts of India, distributing cooked meals and dry rations to those in need. FMB volunteers organised a food drive in London in the aid of a local food bank and were able to donate and distribute thousands of pounds of food to vulnerable families along with volunteering to serve hot meals to people in homeless shelters across the United States. Additionally, the initiative undertook a host of activities to promote food security and spread the message of Zero Hunger in Australia, East Africa, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. All activities were undertaken with strict adherence to Covid-19 restrictions, including social distancing, wearing masks, and maintaining high standards of hygiene.

Over the course of the pandemic, more than 200 community kitchens across 40 countries have provided hundreds of thousands of cooked meals and more than 1000 tonnes of rations to those in need. Provisions were made to serve refreshments to frontline workers, law enforcement officers and volunteers, giving them a moment’s respite in the midst of their tireless efforts.

‘The lockdown was a very tough period. We were forced to relook at how the community kitchen was operated. During the initial days, we went from door to door and provided essential dry rations to households to suffice for a month—vegetables, dal, rice, chai, butter etc. We collaborated with other charities, and also visited bus stands and railway stations providing food to people, such as daily wage earners who were in need.’

‘We were able to understand and follow all the safety guidelines and procure approval from officials to operate the kitchens.  This, in turn, helped us continue operations and help not just the Bohra community, but also provide food relief to everyone who needed it.’

‘The lockdown was a very tough period. We were forced to relook at how the community kitchen was operated. During the initial days, we went from door to door and provided essential dry rations to households to suffice for a month—vegetables, dal, rice, chai, butter etc. We collaborated with other charities, and also visited bus stands and railway stations providing food to people, such as daily wage earners who were in need.’

‘We were able to understand and follow all the safety guidelines and procure approval from officials to operate the kitchens.  This, in turn, helped us continue operations and help not just the Bohra community, but also provide food relief to everyone who needed it.’

Preventing Food Loss and Wastage

One-third of all food produced for human consumption throughout the world each year is either lost or wasted. This amounts approximately to an astonishing 1.3 billion tonnes of food. Even though enough food is produced to feed the entire human population, more than 820 million people continue to go hungry. The UN has further warned that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a hunger catastrophe putting a huge number of people at the risk of starvation.

‘It is my wish that Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah reach the home of each and every community member’

— His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin

Islam places great emphasis on preventing waste of all kinds, especially the wastage of food and water. In his sermons and addresses to the community, His Holiness continually emphasises the need for vigilance against wastage. To eliminate food waste, community volunteers  formed the Dana Committee (Dana meaning a grain of food) under the aegis of FMB. As of 2021, there are 526 Dana Committees, with 7,853 total members, spread across forty countries.

To safeguard against food waste, FMB kitchens across the world, in conjunction with Dana Committees, have introduced online systems through which community members can specify the exact quantity of food they require for their household on a daily basis as well as inform the kitchen to temporarily suspend meals for a particular duration in case of reasons like travel. When communal meals are served in community centres, an RSVP system allows individuals to inform the kitchen in advance whether they will be staying for the meal. Such systems go a long way in planning proportionately and mitigating wastage from the outset. If, however, there is still food that is left over, members of the Dana Committee ensure that it is packed appropriately and distributed to those in need.

The concept of a community kitchen and centralised preparation of food is in itself a beneficial in countering wastage as it engenders economies of scale as well as savings in energy and water consumption. These economic benefits, coupled with Islam’s impetus to conserve Earth’s precious resources, enable FMB to continue to set new benchmarks for sustainability.


Food is one of the forces that famously binds the Dawoodi Bohras together. Therefore, it is but natural that the community pays special attention to sharing food, hosting others and feeding the hungry. From the traditional manner in which meals are consumed with a group of people sitting around a large circular serving platter known as the thaal, indicating that all those who sit to share a meal are equals, to the fact that identical meals are shared by everyone, young and old, rich and poor, everything about the Bohra culture’s traditional eating habits is reinforced by the egalitarian ethos of FMB.

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The onus of preparing meals for the entire family has traditionally fallen on the women of the household. It is a process that consumes time and effort on a daily basis. However, by ensuring at least one nutritious cooked meal for the entire household every day, FMB has succeeded in freeing up much of this time for homemakers who can now explore other opportunities to help in the family businesses, earn a livelihood or pursue other interests. 

Similarly, many women have started entrepreneurial ventures from their homes, venturing into businesses such as interior design, catering, baking, designing jewelry, stitching, embroidery, home tuition and selling masalas and chutneys. Some of them have also assumed greater responsibility in volunteering within the Bohra community’s social fabric.

The Dawoodi Bohras International Women's Day 2021

Philadelphia resident Nisreen Qasim Mun, 55, credits FMB with changing her life for the better. Nisreen, whose youngest daughter is 18 and about to go to college, believes that over the past ten years, she as well as the small group of 32 Bohra families in Philadelphia have understood the value of food and having a community to rely on.

‘I am a mother of four, I work full-time, and I am a business owner. As a working woman, when you are taking care of family, it is not just about standing in the kitchen and cooking. The process also involves organising your time, getting groceries from the store, planning meals as people like different things and making sure what you cook is healthy. But due to FMB’s thaali, I probably save two to three hours each day. I can definitely say it has impacted my life positively. Food is the basic necessity of life, if you don’t have to worry about it, 50% of your stress is taken care of,’

‘We had an elderly couple in their 80s, who got sick and depended on the thaali every day for sustenance. I see many students coming to Philadelphia for higher studies. Their parents are able to rest easy, knowing that their children will not have to worry about food in a new city. I have learnt to value every grain of roti and rice and never waste food. It is not just a plate of food. It is a spiritual blessing and it benefits us in our body and in our soul,’ she says, adding that she is currently involved in menu planning for FMB.

‘Mohabbat ni Roti’

Roti (Indian flatbread) is an integral part of the Dawoodi Bohra culinary tradition and  roti-making, therefore, is one of the most important tasks in the FMB community kitchen. Handmade roti is not only a daily staple but also an expression of love and devotion. His Holiness often refers to them as ‘mohabbat ni roti’ (rotis made out of love), encouraging community members to keep alive the tradition of making rotis by hand as a means of staying active, nourishing the body, nurturing relationships, preserving cultural heritage and providing livelihoods. FMB kitchens reach out to community members willing to contribute by making rotis for the daily meals.

Yasmeen Yahya Udaipurwala, 55, is a part of a team of 30 women who make over 2,300 rotis a day, which in turn are supplied to 400 households in her area. The Karachi resident and her family have not only benefited from FMB for almost ten years, but she takes immense pride in the fact that making roti has also given her the opportunity to give back to the community

‘We start early in the morning and finish by 7:30 a.m. This gives us time to devote to other pursuits. I was able to start my own business, selling women’s accessories. And in my own circle, my sister and sister-in-law both managed to devote time to prayers and learn the entire Quran. My daughter finds quality time to spend with her children. I know several women who have taken up sewing and crocheting, and manage to earn a living in the free time they now have, thanks to FMB.’


Food plays an important role in Bohra religious rites as well as cultural traditions and certain dishes have therefore become synonymous with special occasions. 

 Khichro (made of mutton and cracked wheat)

Kheema khichri (minced meat pulao)

Laganya seekh (layered minced meat topped with eggs)

Kheema samosa (minced meat samosas)

Mutton kari chawal – spiced coconut milk-based curry served with fragrant basmati rice.

Kharak – stuffed dried dates served during Eid al-Fitr.

Kalamro – a dessert made from rice and yoghurt), served to celebrate the Prophet Mohammed’s birth anniversary.

Sheer Khurma – a warm dessert made of vermicelli, milk, dates, dry fruits and nuts, and clarified butter (ghee).

‘When a variety of courses are prepared and then served one after the other, a meal is more appetising’

— Syedna al-Qadi al-Noman


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While FMB started with the intention of providing a standardised level of nutrition for every community member regardless of their financial standing, today, it has become much more. It is a manifestation of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s time-honoured philosophy of service to humanity and an expression of love that transcends the bounds of race, class and creed. 

The teachings of Islam urge Muslims to always strive for the betterment of others and exalt individuals who sacrifice their own needs for those of the collective. FMB is one more in the long list of initiatives introduced by the Dawoodi Bohra community that aims to improve the lives of others. 

The advantages of the FMB programme are as multi-tiered as the ubiquitous steel tiffins in which FMB thaali meals arrive daily. From ensuring that every single member of the community receives a nutritious meal every day and no one goes to bed hungry, to guaranteeing zero food wastage, to inculcating a strong spirit of community bonding to empowering Bohra women, the simple act of providing one nutritious meal has far-reaching benefits. 

As this ground-breaking initiative completes 10 years of impacting countless lives across the world on a daily basis, FMB hopes to continue to provide wholesome meals to the Dawoodi Bohras and those in need from the wider community, thereby establishing an enduring legacy of philanthropy that will inspire generations to come.