A turning point and achievement for the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri community?
Marziyabai Sayani awarded an MBE.
On initially meeting Marziyabai Sayani one is greeted by a warm, jovial and cheerful personality brimming with positivity and an ever smiling face.
Born in Kampala, Uganda she is the daughter of Alhaj Ibrahim & Rukiabai Alarakhia Kassam. Her father has served as the President of both Kampala and Toronto Jamats and is currently a Trustee for Africa Federation in addition to his role as a councillor representing Kampala Jamat. He also served as the President of Chamber and Commerce of Uganda and hails from a prosperous business family in Kampala.
Marziyabai was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s honours list in her role as Executive Officer, Jobcentre Plus, Department for Work and Pensions. (Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire) and is the first lady member of our community to receive this accolade.
Her efforts are not only centred on her job but family and community too. Her husband suffered a debilitating stroke in February 2003 and she has been his main carer due to his disability and constant care. However, as the sole-bread winner for her family her need to work has continued but her husband’s needs come first beyond everything else. She ensures that these are fully met through organisation and positive outlook whilst maintaining work life balance. “I was working full-time as my son was sitting his A-levels after which I supported him financially through university. I was extremely depressed to see my husband suffer from his disability and inadequate physical state but I always kept my positivity. His right brain is damaged and he requires a lot of support in addition to dialysis every night.”
Her two sons Karim and Imran she states have been most helpful and supportive especially her daughter-in-law Taj hence she never feels alone.
She is a member of the Equality and Diversity group within her organisation and participates in issues for race and religion in the southeast region. She has also championed equality and disability in her office for the past 5 years. Due to her outstanding performance and attitude to work she was nominated to attend the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in July 2008.
Her faith has played an active part in her life which in-turn made her lobby for Namaz (Prayer) rooms to be instated in all Job Centre Plus offices in the UK (referred to as silent rooms). “In the month of Ramadhan I also pressed for a Namaz rooms for staff to do their Salah in their lunch break and excuse all Muslim customers in South East area who are on Benefits to enable them to participate in Jummah Namaz. This has not only benefited the Muslim community but conversely raised the importance of prayers to the Muslim community.” Her role-models and inspirations include Bibi Fatima (SA) and Bibi Zainab (SA) exemplified through their lessons taught, patience and service to humanity despite all trials and tribulations.
Figure 1: Congratulatory presentation from Zainabiya Islamic Centre on the Wiladat of Imam Ali (AS)1431
In addition to the above she actively serves our community at the Zainabiya Islamic Centre in Milton Keynes through her active role in the kitchen and ladies committee.
She also organises Indian Culture Days for Idd/Diwale at her work , promoting an understanding and appreciation of Indian culture and values alleviating the inferiority complex we hold in raising such issues she believes. She has demonstrated her dedication by contribution to fund-raising for charities through organizing Indian Day by selling Iandian sweets and savoury trolleys. She was the first one to organize an India Day at Milton Keynes and Banbury Contact Centres Cultural Day in April 2004 in aid of Headway Charity by willingly catered, provided and promoted Indian Culture and values. She has been awarded 4 medals for cooking competitions within the southeast region. She caters heavily for the Asian Women Association, Inter-Faith and the Friends for Life Charity. She still finds time to give back to the community by teaching Indian cooking at the local Adult Education College having taught 1,000 students.
Amongst her other achievements include:
– Milton Keynes Benefit Delivery Centre: Recognising Success Award: Equality and Diversity – Champion for the South East; Jobcentre Plus 2009.This is provided to those who provide a remarkable service to customers from 80,000 dedicated employees willing to make an extra effort.
– Zainabiya Award (KSIMC Milton Keynes) Ramadhan 1428/2007 for her selfless commitment and dedication to the community.
Figure 2: Marziyabai with her accolades recognising her untiring service.
She actively helps and supports members of our community who require advice on benefits and pensions. She has also been nominated as a welfare officer for the Agakhan Council of the UK both locally and nationally.
Her drive and inspiration emanates from her desire to help and serve others contributing positively and generously to their lives. She states “My service encompasses all races and ethnic groups making a difference for the whole of humanity as taught by our beloved Ahlul-Bayt (AS). My husband’s illness has opened avenues to do more and help others inversely inspired by the help I get towards the care of my husband from the host community. I believe this has proven to be a blessing in disguise for indeed his disability has provided an impetus for me to serve.”
Her advice to the youths of the community is to always view adversity as an opportunity and seize the moment to help others and make a difference to their lives. She finds helping others very fulfilling especially the contentment that results on making a positive difference and recommends everyone to play their part.
“When my husband had his stroke he was given 72 hours to live however with the grace of Allah (SWT) and our Holy Imams (AS) and everyone’s prayers he is still with us and the power of prayer I will always champion.”
Figure3: Mohamed Riza Sadak (interviewer) with Marziyabai Sayani.
Mohamed Riza Sadak a youth from KSIMC Milton Keynes states “I was indeed thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Marziya aunty on her awards and achievements which have served as a great inspiration. Her untiring work and service to our community and humanity at large provides a platform for others to do more in the service of our Beloved and Holy Imam (AF). I on behalf of the community take this opportunity to congratulate Marziya Aunty on her achievements and wish her every success in all her endeavours.”
Some more information from Archives Chairman about the personality
According to our records Marziyabai’s father Ebrahimbhai served Africa Federation since 1958.
He represented as a delegate of Kampala during the 5th Conference of the Council held at Arusha in December 1958.
He has been serving for the last 52 years and is presently a Trustee of Africa Federation from Uganda.