Guyana Diaspora

'89 percent of Guyana 's graduate population live and work in the 30 relatively rich countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -"Fruit that falls far from the tree",
The Economist, 03 November 2005'

It is estimated that there are as many Guyanese living overseas as they are in Guyana
They are spread out far and wide to almost every country on the planet
This blog was created to chronicle the news and and stories of the Diaspora

Sunday, January 29, 2006

One step at a time

Nizam Ally's motivation started growing back when he was a child in Guyana, South America. He said that his family was better off than the children he is now trying to help are, but that it was still very poor.

With the hot, summer sun glaring down on him from above, Nizam Ally walked from Utica to Herkimer.

But that's nothing. He has already walked from Toronto to New York City and back again.

He is making his way back to New York City - walking approximately 20 miles per day and resting at local hotels at night - as a part of his second round trip of the cities.

No, he's not crazy, and he doesn't do this because he just really enjoys long walks either.

Ally is walking in an attempt to raise money to help needy children. He founded the Walk 5-5-55 Charitable Foundation, and decided to do the "Miles for Smiles" charity walk as a way to motivate people to help.

The first trip brought in about $10,000 in donations. The money goes to Save the Children Canada and Save the Children USA.

Ally's goals are set much higher. He hopes to eventually raise $5 million for the cause and said he would continue to make the walk, health permitting, until the money is raised. "It takes some time," he said, "but I feel in my heart it will happen."

The "Miles for Smiles" walk passes by about 50 million people, Ally said. He would like to see a million of those people donate $5 each to help reach the $5 million goal. He has mentally prepared himself to make the trek five times in order to raise the money and feels that the number five may be lucky for him.

The Walk 5-5-55 Charitable foundation is named for his birth date. Naming the foundation for his birthday is partially symbolic because he said that he had to really come of age before he could get a new outlook on what he could do to make a difference and help children in need.

Before deciding to start the charity walk, Ally felt like he cared about people who needed help but that he wasn't doing anything about it. One goal of the walk is to motivate people who currently feel the way Ally used to feel to get out and join the cause.

Ally's motivation started growing back when he was a child in Guyana, South America. He said that his family was better off than the children he is now trying to help are, but that it was still very poor. His family had to walk a block away just to get water, he shared a bed with three of his brothers and he received his first pair of shoes at the age of 5. At 12, he started working with his father - pushing his father's donkey cart and trying to sell the day's crops.

While only 17, in 1973, Ally moved to Canada. He had nobody there to support him and had to learn to get by on his own. Ally worked hard and became successful. He now owns a Caribbean restaurant.

After the events of September 11th, he started paying more attention to the news and doing a lot of reading about other children around the world who have to suffer. "I have a very soft spot when it comes to children," said Ally, who has three kids of his own.

Ally then sponsored two kids - one in Columbia and one in Chili - and found great satisfaction in the way helping them made him feel.

He said he continued to see more and more about the millions of suffering children in the world - with thousands dying each day - and wanted to do more.

Ally knew he could only afford to provide so much help on his own, so about four years ago he started thinking about the idea of the charity walk.

The walk is his way of showing people his dedication to the fundraiser. "It's better than sitting in an office and making phone calls," he said.

His first walk began on March 24, 2005. On May 5, his 50th birthday, he arrived at Times Square in New York City.

He then walked back to Toronto.

Rafeek Baksh, a family friend, drives a van as he follows around on the walk. He stays within a mile or two of Ally to supply him with water and to make sure he stays healthy. "I think it's a great thing he's doing," Baksh said.

While walking, Ally has passed through many areas. He said he was surprised by how many nice places are so close by in the smaller towns.

He added that the people have been kind to him. People often wave, honk, clap or yell encouraging words as they pass him. A couple of weeks ago, a family drove by in a van and clapped for him. The van then turned around and came back and gave him water. "It really motivates you," he said.

Ally has been funding the walk by himself and is now looking for a corporate sponsor to help because the expenses are starting to add up. The expenses aren't the only difficult part of the experience. Ally - who said that getting through the walk is more mental than physical - misses his family and his business while he is out on the walks.

Nonetheless, Ally is already planning to start another walk in March 2006 if the target $5 million isn't raised by the end of this walk.

The results of his efforts will be well worth it to him. "I'm looking forward to that satisfaction," he said. "I'm determined to make that sacrifice."

From Mid-York Weekly

Contact Information:
Walk 5-5-55 Charitable Foundation
3114 Danforth Ave Scarborough, ON. M1L 1B1
Toll Free: 1-866-359-WALK (9255)


Blogger Paz said...

Very admirable man. I wish him all the best with his efforts.


9:39 PM  

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