“Everyone has the capacity to bring about change; it’s all about taking the first step.”
2024 Top 30 Under 30
What specific issue(s) are you taking on, and what inspires you to do so?
The Canadian Zalmi Society, which I co-founded, is committed to empowering individuals through education by providing free digital and financial literacy courses. These courses equip participants with essential computer skills, knowledge about credit, loans, and budgeting, and critical employment-seeking skills such as resume writing and online job search strategies. Upon course completion, participants receive a free desktop or laptop, enabling them to further their education or pursue career opportunities. All the computers provided to the participants are refurbished, representing a much more sustainable option. This program runs every other month. In terms of international work, we recently supported a school in Bahawalnagar, located in Pakistan, by providing them with desktops to establish their first computer lab. Supporting a school that empowers girls in education was a very gratifying experience, and we aim to continue our efforts and expand our support to other rural areas and continue to empower them through education.
Additionally, through collaborations with local businesses and corporations, we’ve developed a program that repurposes viable food and household items that would otherwise go to waste. By assembling these items into hampers, we reduce the environmental impact and provide nutritious food to families. This program operates weekly, supporting an average of 33 families.
My inspiration originates from my parents’ immigration experience and the diverse city I reside in. Hearing about my parents’ struggles as they built a new life in Canada ignited a passion within me to utilize my skills for the improvement of our community. Growing up, hearing about the support my parents received during their settlement in Calgary motivated me to pay it forward and create a tangible difference in the lives of others, just as others did for my family.
What does climate change or climate justice mean to you? To your work?
Climate change and climate justice are critical concepts that deeply resonate with our organization’s mission. Climate change represents an urgent global crisis, encompassing the profound environmental shifts impacting our planet due to human activities. It signifies the escalating disruptions to ecosystems, weather patterns, and natural resources, affecting communities worldwide. Within the scope of our work, climate change is a pivotal factor shaping our initiatives. Our efforts to tackle excess food waste by collaborating with companies directly align with climate justice. We recognize that these corporations’ surplus food contributes significantly to environmental degradation while countless individuals and families suffer from food insecurity. By repurposing this excess food, we aim to address immediate hunger and reduce the environmental footprint created by wasted resources. It’s a multifaceted approach that promotes environmental sustainability, mitigates greenhouse gas emissions, and ensures equitable access to food resources, thereby advancing climate justice.
What advice do you have for other young people looking to get involved in sustainable development?
I would implore everyone to take the first step of identifying their passion and strengths within sustainable development. Find your niche and leverage your skills and interests, whether it’s waste reduction, education, or social equity. It may seem daunting to step into new areas, but it is an enriching experience where you make new friends and gain new skills.
Farah at a drive-through distribution for food hampers. Viable food items and essential household goods from local organizations and businesses were packaged into boxes to assist families experiencing food insecurity.
The current Canadian Zalmi Society literacy program integrates digital and financial literacy, covering essential computer usage concepts alongside crucial information about budgeting, credit, and loans. Every participant in this program receives a free desktop or laptop and also gets introduced to other organizations that can offer additional support.