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Leena lends a hand across the world

Poverty is a serious problem for many, both in the U.S. and abroad.  Thankfully, there are people ready to empower those in need of a hand up.  One of these givers is Leena Raza, a 17-year-old from Troy, Mich.  Leena founded the Noor Foundation, now called SEEDS (Social and Education Equality for Development), an organization that works to provide resources like education and health care for people in impoverished areas


We chatted with Leena to ask about her organization, inspiration, and advice for you!


GL:  What has SEEDS accomplished so far?

Leena:  We have overall raised more than $15,000. We have fundraised for two scholarships for a future chemistry professor and a doctor and bought a cow for a widow in South Asia.  This was all in hopes to financially empower them. We have also fundraised for the only functional and free hospital in Northern Pakistan.


After spending much time fundraising for global causes, we now plan on fundraising for a library in a Detroit elementary school (that does not possess one at all) in hopes to grant the same opportunities to inner city kids as the neighboring suburbs. 


GL:  What have you learned from your volunteer work?

Leena:  Personally, I have learned a lot more “people skills” and how to generally cultivate a community; our organization had a few tensions but we learned to grow out of it, which proves our strength.


Overall, we have learned about how important it is to redefine volunteerism. People must view volunteerism as more humbling than “helping someone else” because this demonizes the other group; it should instead be viewed as two groups coming together to solve an issue. Both parties are very crucial in the process.    


GL:  Who or what inspires you?

Leena:  Our group is inspired by famous leaders in the nonprofit world. Muhammad Yunus, the micro-finance genius in Bangladesh, not only addresses the community’s needs but also does it in the most non-intrusive way. I also personally greatly admire local leaders; I think there should be more of them. Their knowledge about the community’s needs and how to solve them are unparalleled to an outsider and they are oftentimes what a community needs.  


GL:  What advice do you have for girls who want to help others?

Leena:  Find what you are passionate about. Do research. Never be discouraged. Invite your friends over, explain the situation and reach for the stars! Also, do not ever think that working locally is less important than global; we need more local leaders!


GL:  Can others get involved in SEEDS?  If so, how?

Leena:  Yes, especially if you are in the Detroit area. You can email me at pazsalamshalom@gmail.com to critique, to offer advice, to ask for advice or to even inquire on how you can help!


For all of her hard work, Leena has been recognized as a Distinguished Finalist by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a program that honors outstanding youth volunteers.  For more information on the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and how to apply, CLICK HERE!



Pictured above: Maheen Asghar, Afrah Raza, Sadia Ghazi, Sabrina Ghazi, Nabiha Sid, Leena Raza, Anita Ukani, Nabiha Hashmi, Sara Chaudhry, and event guest speaker Ethan Casey

BY MARIE HANSEN ON 9/4/2011 12:00:00 AM


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