Dian’s vision was set, her intentions clear. Attendees would have a chance to “give a light” to orphans as Dian worked to raise awareness (and hopefully funds) for the event titled: Dreams of Africa: An Evening to Benefit Orphans.
We were transported to a faraway land, courtesy of Zaytuna’s Spanish-style venue, where a hearty Moroccan fare, delightful treats, and deep spiritual words filled our hearts and renewed our spirits. Alhumdulillah, as expected, with Imam Zaid listed as the keynote speaker, the event was quickly sold out.
During the program, unbeknownst to attendees or even organizers, a surprise visit had heads turning and jaws dropping. Shaykh Hamza, obviously moved by Dian’s work, wound his way through the packed hall, took center stage, and immediately hooked us with the significance of orphans in Islam. After all, he noted, had Allah not sent to all of humanity an orphan as our last Prophet? Shaykh Hamza highlighted the importance of being protectors to those without protectors, reminding us to never look with contempt upon anyone, no matter who they were—we were all Allah’s creation—and then recounted a deeply-moving and personal story that left not a single eye dry.
Next, Imam Zaid, with his gentle humor and broad smile, lit the room with stories about running into Dian in various cities and how Allah, through His infinite miracles, found openings for them to facilitate spontaneous and very lucrative fundraisers. As Dian listened from the audience, she was asked by the Imam if she wanted to have a fundraiser right then, to which she responded in her kind and humble way, “Only a soft one.”
Projected onscreen were three countries with their monetary gaps: Egypt in need of $25K, Sierra Leone with $30K, and South Africa with $160K. Imam Zaid asked Dian to choose one country she’d like to see completed by the end of the evening. Picking neither too high, nor too low, she opted for the middle path, and within minutes, that gap was closed. A few minutes later, a second country had been fully covered as well.
In tears, Dian shared how she never worries about money, and no matter what situation she finds herself in, she has found Allah to always provide for her causes. She went on to say that while some doors definitely do close, Allah is quick to open others. Dian’s conviction held true for us as we witnessed over 50K being raised within minutes, Alhamdulillah.
Set to begin at 5:30pm with a hard stop at maghreb time, I was curious to see how this would play out. Even with a surprise speaker, the program not only began and ended on time, but each timed-task listed was followed exactly as written. Dian’s punctuality showed great respect for her guests and their time, and I am certain it was much appreciated by every person in attendance. How amazing if more organizations got onboard and together we finally put an end to “Muslim Standard Time.”
Years ago, when I first heard about GiveLight, I was in absolute awe of Dian, her efforts, and her need to support children who had no one to call theirs, no family to call home. The more I read about her work, the more clarity I got within myself for my purpose, uncovering parts of my heart that had been hiding for too long. This event, Dreams of Africa, lit up the hearts and souls of many, further proof that we are indeed not the ones helping GiveLight, but rather it is the one “giving light” to us by allowing us the privilege to serve in this worldwide effort.
By Aaesha Ali