Aariz Ali, age 9, lives in Austin, Texas and attends a Montessori School. He likes mathematics and sports, especially basketball, and the San Antonio Spurs. He has a younger sister, Ayza.
Aariz is one of the Aga Khan Foundation’s younger and more passionate donors. In response to AKF’s 2018 year-end campaign and the Meet Sara video, he sent a heartfelt letter with his donation.
We recently called Aariz to thank him and spoke with him and his parents, Munira Bhaidani and Iqbal Ali.
How did Aariz hear out about the story of Sara in Afghanistan?
Munira: A letter from AKF arrived and it was addressed to Aariz, because he’d participated in the Walk-Run. I said, “Hey Aariz, there’s some mail for you.”
He read the letter right there and was saddened by the fact that there were children who might not even be able to attend school.
The letter mentioned Sara and that she was 7 years old – close to his age. He read the letter himself and it struck a chord with him.
He’s been familiar with the Aga Khan Foundation since he was little. He has participated in the Aga Khan Foundation Austin Walk-Run.
What inspired him to make a donation?
Munira: The letter was addressed to him and he wanted to do something for Sara and others in a similar situation as hers. He had recently received monetary gifts from family and he wanted to donate some of that money to AKF. He was persistent about it. In the weeks after that, he would ask when we were going to make the donation. I said, “You can do it. You can make the donation online or send it in yourself.” He took it upon himself to write the note.
What does he think about education? Or Afghanistan?
Iqbal: He visited Pakistan in January 2018, and saw life in a developing country and realized how difficult it must be for children to achieve an education and change the course of their life. He could picture Afghanistan like Pakistan and the challenges they face. Education has been emphasized repeatedly in the Aga Khan’s teachings and demonstrated through his work.
Munira: Aariz is aware of AKF’s initiatives including the Aga Khan Academies, and the importance placed on education. We try to teach our children that an education opens doors.
Aariz, thank you so much for your donation. And thank you for being in the Walk-Run.
Aariz: You are welcome. I enjoyed participating in the AKF Walk-Run.
Do you remember what the letter said?
Aariz: Yes, I do. It said that only one out of three girls in Afghanistan can go to school. I felt bad that Sara had to walk over a mile to get to school every day.
Is education important to you?
What did Sara’s story make you think of?
Aariz: It made me think of the difficulties that Sara must face like walking to school over a bunch of rocks, hills, and mountains.
What was it like giving to the Foundation to help?
Aariz: It felt like I could do something good.
Munira and Iqbal, as his parents, what were your reactions to his decision?
Munira: I was moved when Aariz looked at me and said, “Here, Mama, I would like to donate my money to AKF.” I could see he was genuinely empathetic towards Sara’s situation.
Iqbal: We were touched as parents to see that he made the decision to donate his own money. His reaction to donate to AKF to help Sara go to school was instantaneous. We try to teach our kids to lead a life of service and include that in our day-to-day lives.
This post is part of the #humansoftheworld series on our blog—a collection of tales we can both relate to and marvel at. Here, we share stories of appreciation, self-reliance, and strength from across the Aga Khan Development Network.