My GiveLight Journey

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Seattle, like many modern large cities, is a place of striking contrasts. Tech giants tower over family businesses struggling to survive, million dollar homes are constructed mere minutes from tent cities, and some of the best schools in the nation educate future leaders, while thousands of children struggle to learn basic skills in classrooms that are underfunded and underserved.

In this land of contrast, it is very easy to become consumed by the everyday grind of high pressure jobs and familial obligations. Despite our fast paced lifestyles, there are so many in our community who yearn for a greater purpose. I first heard of the GiveLight Foundation a few years ago, and was deeply inspired by the story of one woman taking indescribable personal tragedy and transforming it into a life-saving mission. Dian’s story and the GiveLight Foundation tapped into the hearts of so many and inspired the inception of the Seattle chapter of this incredibly important cause.

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Winters in this city can be long and isolating, with the wet weather lending itself more to quiet nights at home rather than social gatherings. With this in mind, the organizers of the Seattle chapter of GiveLight chose to host their inaugural event in early November, inviting women from all across the community to gather, discuss, and learn more about GiveLight before the commencement of the rainy season.

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Inspired by the stunning beauty of autumn in the Pacific Northwest, the idea of “Tea-Giving” was born. The gray tone of the Mercer Island Community Center was transformed into a unique tea party filled with beautiful fall florals, and decor in metallic hues of gold. Thirty women from all walks of life filled the room as guests were invited to enjoy a wide selection of savory sandwiches and sides, along with delicious sweet treats, including a homemade layered cake infused with the subtle flavors of lemon and Earl Gray tea.

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After guests at the womens-only event had the opportunity to casually mingle, and enjoy a cup of tea, the formal program began. Two members of the core organizing committee, Sarah Karim and Nadia Mahmud led a discussion, inviting guests to ponder and share their own personal inspiration for giving and the legacies they hope to leave behind. Strangers forged connections as stories of overcoming hardship and the desire to better the world around them were shared and reflected upon.

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While most of the guests present at this first event had a basic understanding of the mission of the GiveLight Foundation, Yumna Shamim took the opportunity to further explain Dian’s story, and her own personal connection to it, as well as the amazing work that GiveLight does throughout the world. Yumna shared the sentiment that so many of us feel whole-heartedly: the desire to fulfill a greater purpose and live in service to the most vulnerable and in-need among us.

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Yumna’s words were followed by a moving speech given by Raafia Gheewala who spoke of her own work with GiveLight. Sharing her experiences of tutoring children whose lives have been irreversibly changed by tragedy, and the overwhelming love and joy she received in return inspired all who heard her story. Not a single guest was left unaffected as Raafia shared her own story of losing her father at a young age, and leaning on the village of people who came together to help raise her. Using her own life experiences to empathize and connect with the children GiveLight strives to nurture, Raafia inspired all of us to take a moment and reflect on all those who helped raise us, and how we can give back in our own ways.

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This first GiveLight event ended with a call to action for guests to get involved with this amazing organization. Whether through joining the GiveLight chapter, or through offering time or resources, every woman left the gathering armed with inspiration, information, and an invitation to attend all future GiveLight events. “Tea-Giving” proved to be a success in both bringing women together for a common good, as well as setting the stage for many future GiveLight: Seattle Chapter events.

~ Mariam Sami

A big thank you to our Seattle Chapter team leads - Uzma Abedi, Sarah Dandia, Raafia Gheewala, Sarah Karim, Nadia Khawaja, Yumna Qureshi, Manaal Razaque, Mariam Sami. Mariam your words are beautiful. We look forward to seeing more wonderful work from our passionate team in Seattle. May God bless everyone who took part in the event. If you want to a chapter in your city, please email us at info@givelight.org.