In 1996, Najah Bazzy, a cardiac nurse who also specialized in cross cultural training, was working as for Oakwood Healthcare, doing home visits for newly arrived immigrant families. It was during the gulf war, and she was seeing a great deal of war related trauma.
On one such visit, she met a family with no money and a baby with a terminal cancer. When she asked to see the baby, the couple brought him out in a laundry basket lined with clean towels because they didn’t have a crib. When she asked to see where they kept the special formula needed for the baby, they brought out a picnic cooler because they did not have a refrigerator.
Bazzy knew she had to do something. Within a weekend, she had the house furnished with everything the couple needed.
This was the beginning of the Bayt al-Zahra Urgent Needs Program, the first program of Bazzy’s humanitarian organization Zaman International. Currently based in Dearborn, Zaman will move into 40,000 feet of warehouse and office space in Inkster in the beginning of 2015. But for its first 8 years, Bazzy operated it from her basement, renting a U-Haul on weekends to make deliveries.
When the couple eventually lost their child, Bazzy started the Plots for Tots initiative to provide dignified burial for the children of indigent community members.
During that time, Bazzy was also starting the Young Muslim Association (YMA) at the Islamic Center of America. For the first few years, the YMA was focused largely on helping with clothing and furniture drives, but eventually diverged into a larger range of youth activities.
Zaman is the Arabic word for time. Zaman International takes its name from Bazzy’s foundational question “What are we going to do with our time on Earth to make the world a better place?”
Much of the organization’s time is spent helping metro Detroit community members of all races, religions, ethnicities, and backgrounds. But the organization has also partnered with the International Medical Corps on projects such as Sips of Hope, which has helped to alleviate drought with wells and rain water reservoirs for 70,000 people in Kenya and Somalia. Zaman also collaborates with aid organizations to send clothing and hygiene items to people in areas affected by war or natural disasters.
Zaman International’s other programs include B.O.O.S.T – Women’s Vocational and Literacy Training Program, and a Mobile Food Pantry.
Najah Bazzy, in addition to her humanitarian work, is well known for her interfaith work, and is active as a speaker and teacher across the community, nationally and internationally.
“She has a way of making everyone, regardless of faith background feel one with her,” says Monica Boomer, Zaman International’s Director of Community Engagement.
The Interfaith Leadership Council is very pleased to be honoring Mrs. Bazzy with the Interfaith Leadership Award at our upcoming annual awards dinner on October 29.
On September 13, Zaman International will hold its annual Walk 4 Humanity 5K run, barbecue and children’s event at Dearborn’s Ford Field. Proceeds will help fund Zaman Internationals programs, which are almost entirely funded by individual donations.
“Out of all of the events we do throughout the year, this is the one that’s targeted at the whole family,” says Boomer. The children’s activities are geared, she says, toward “getting the kids to get humanitarian work on the brain.”
Organizers expect over 800 people of all ages and backgrounds from around the metro Detroit community.