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!
What has SEEDS accomplished so far?
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
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.
What have you learned from your volunteer work?
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.
Who or what inspires you?
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.
What advice do you have for girls who want to help others?
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!
Can others get involved in SEEDS? If so, how?
Leena: Yes, especially if you are in the
Detroit area. You can email me at email@example.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!
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
POSTED IN charity, lifestyle, do gooder