October 30, 2006

McMaster student honoured for volunteer work

By Susan Bubak

    Alim Nagji, a second-year health sciences student, was presented with the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers by James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Photo courtesy Alim Nagji.
Alim Nagji has been volunteering since he was eight years old. Now 19, the second-year health sciences student was recently honoured for his dedication to helping others with the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

The award recognizes young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who have given a significant amount of their time and energy to a charity, not-for-profit organization or an individual.

"I feel grateful and excited about winning this award," says Nagji. "It's always a great feeling to be appreciated for your service, but more importantly, I hope that this award will help me to raise awareness for the multiple causes I support and inspire other youth to continue or begin volunteering."

Nagji says he began volunteering at the age of eight when he heard about the plight of children in Afghanistan who couldn't afford to buy shoes.

"I remember thinking to myself that I was so lucky to have shoes and that it was somehow unfair that they didn't," he says. "I raised money for the campaign and became inspired from that moment to help those who were underprivileged or who didn't have the same opportunities that I've been blessed with."

Nagji has volunteered for numerous organizations, raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity and has won dozens of awards for his philanthropic work. He spent more than 2,000 hours doing community service, and has tutored recent immigrant students in English, French and math.

Last summer, Nagji spent six weeks in India, where he worked with marginalized populations affected by HIV/AIDS.

"I organized and implemented programs for HIV infected/affected children," he says. "I created awareness material for HIV & Nutrition, HIV & Hygiene, and worked in blood camps in the villages where we screened pregnant mothers for VDSL and HIV. I aspire to continue to develop my knowledge and skills so that when I return to these areas I can make a larger, more sustainable contribution."

Nagji encourages other students to give back to those who are less fortunate.

"There are people everywhere who don't have access to the same opportunities and I think it is a responsibility and a pleasure to be able to give back to the community."