Glimmer of Hope, the people's foundation

Zahir Ali, president of Glimmer of Hope Foundation and one of the eight Courts Heroes Initiative finalists.
Zahir Ali, president of Glimmer of Hope Foundation and one of the eight Courts Heroes Initiative finalists.

ONLINE voting continues in the Courts TT Heroes Initiative, which seeks to recognise “the selfless giving and work” of the people who are making a difference in the lives of others. Today we feature the last two finalists, Zahir Ali and Kyle Dardaine. Voting ends today.

There is a recipe for doing humanitarian work and the ingredients are love, a good heart and non-discrimination, Zahir Ali says. This he believes is all it takes to help humankind in need. Ali is the president of The Glimmer of Hope Foundation and one of the eight finalists of the Courts Heroes Initiative.

Ali’s organisation started four years ago, in 2015 when, as a then cancer patient, he wanted to reach out to families to distribute hampers he had made. He visited various families giving out the hampers and when he visited the last family and handed a little girl a plastic bag with snacks she began to cry. She was happy, he said to Newsday in a phone interview, because her school bag was then a plastic bag and was ripped.

“So she was not grateful for what was in the bag, she was grateful for the plastic bag to put her books in,” he said.

That child motivated Ali to start the foundation. The organisation became a registered one last year. Composed of over 24 full-time members and five directors including Ali, it channels its energy to assist the elderly, single parents, the homeless, orphans and the downtrodden. The San Juan-based foundation, over its four-year existence, has even constructed 27 houses for people through its generous donors. Ali was proud to say the foundation has never held a fundraiser.

“Everything that comes in, it goes out. We are not a foundation for the flood or a foundation for Christmas, we operate 24 hours...,” Ali said.

The foundation assesses those receiving its donations.

“They are people who just want to make a difference in someone’s life so we do the proper assessment first to determine the person. Then at the same time we not only give them a hamper but empower them to get out of it.”

The group’s overall mission is to empower people.

Ali attributed the foundation’s success to this principle. The donors reach far and wide, Ali said, including as far as Dubai and the UK.

While Ali is currently in remission from his lung cancer it is not this which prompted him to begin his charity work. He has always had a love for people and humanity. He believes, however, not everyone can be a humanitarian.

“People call themselves humanitarians but you cannot be a humanitarian when you’re only helping one set of people. If you’re only helping people of your own race or religion.” To him, this is the people’s foundation.

This year the foundation filled 131 book lists and gave out over 500 stationery bags. It also helps children with laptops, pays transportation to schools and helps children with educational expenses.

“I am honoured to know that I can do so much for my country and give back to my country,” he said.

Ali, also an accountant, said of being nominated and a finalist in the Courts Heroes Initiative that he was happy to be nominated even though he believes his recognition comes from God.

“I was very excited about it especially when I heard we were in the top eight. It means a lot,” Ali said.

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"Glimmer of Hope, the people’s foundation"

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