Many consider their mom a hero, but Najah Bazzy, a Canton mom of four and grandmother of three, was recently honored as a 2019 CNN “Hero.”
Bazzy was selected for her two-decade dedication to leading Zaman International, an Inkster-based nonprofit she founded that helps female heads of households living below the poverty line, providing them with food, clothing, assistance with temporary shelter and vocational training.
“So many people feel a part of this recognition – the donors, the volunteers, the partners, the communities – and that makes me happy,” she says. “I think you can share your clothes and your food and your money and knowledge, but to share recognition is a beautiful thing.”
A deep tradition of giving
Zaman International backs projects in other countries to support women with children below the poverty line and does on-the-ground work in southeast Michigan. The area holds a special place in Bazzy’s heart – her family has been here for more than five generations.
“I grew up in the south end of Dearborn; that’s where all the early immigrant families were,” she says. “I was raised in a more poor part of town, but we were taught very early on to share and to give.”
Bazzy says she credits her grandmother and mother for teaching her how to maintain balance while raising a family and working as a nurse and at Zaman International.
“My family is made of really resilient, very family-oriented community servants, and we were raised that way,” she says. “Now, my grandchildren are being raised the same way. That humanitarian aspect of our lives, is more important now than ever.
“Kids these days are very aware of the world and they can do something about it,” she says. “They have great capacity. It’s important to start them at a very young age.”
Tips to get kids giving
Want to spark a generous spirit in your kids? Here are some of Bazzy’s tips to get
- Practice sharing. “Teach children at a very young age how to share their food and toys – and I mean really young,” Bazzy reiterates. “As soon as they can comprehend the concept, you should get them sharing. That’s how it starts.”
- Let them take the lead. “Teach them to save money, even pennies, and tell them, ‘This is the money that’s going to go to the poor,'” she says. “Get them involved: have them pick out donations, wrap it and deliver it. Make it hands-on everything.”
- Teach the concept of giving. “I remember teaching my kids to keep their backpacks very clean because we were going to give them away to someone else at some point,” she says. “You don’t want to only give away things you don’t want anymore. You teach them how to give things away that they love.”