Bradford resident, volunteer Noora Akhavan takes the time to give back to her community through various organizations and groups
Bradford resident Noora Akhavan says she is “driven to volunteer” by her faith.
Akhavan has lived in Bradford with her husband Mehran and their son for over 25 years. The couple moved to Bradford a few years after getting married and have lived in the same house for 22 years. Their son Shoghi graduated from high school this year and will be studying biomedical engineering at McMaster University this fall.
Akhavan was born in Iran. She left the country at the age of nine to study at a Baha’i International Boarding School in India until she was 14. She then completed her secondary education in England.
While studying in England as a foreign student, the Iranian revolution occurred, forcing Akhavan and many of her family members to return to Iran to flee persecution.
“All of our lives were in danger,” Akhavan recalls, noting that the Bahá’ís had not obtained a passport to leave Iran at that time. “My father… escaped through the mountains and smuggled routes to Turkey… he must have left everything behind. His pension was withdrawn because he was a member of the Bahá’í Faith.
At 20, Akhavan immigrated to Canada, arriving within six months of his father, while the rest of his family were forced to disperse to other areas. Currently, she has a brother in the US and a sister in the UK, while her mother and half-brother are both in Alberta.
“My mother, my half-brother and my sister also left Iran with great difficulty,” she shares.
Akhavan enrolled at the University of Toronto where she studied history and German before moving to the University of Western Ontario to study law. As a lawyer, Akhavan had a general practice until she had her son. She now practices criminal and family law, working for the province of Ontario.
“I used to do very simple chores during my summers,” she recalls. One year, she worked as a porter for the then popular department store, Simpson’s. With her income, she spent a month participating in social and economic projects carried out by the Bahá’í community in developing countries.
Akhavan has taught children in villages such as Belize, Trinidad, Jamaica, Venezuela and Guyana and says she “loved every minute”. It is only natural that she has continued to work with children and youth as part of her volunteer work for the past 16 years.
She has taught children’s lessons every Sunday for 13 years. “By teaching them the virtues and all the religions of the world, emphasizing that we are all one human family and that we have a common faith that comes from God, whatever the name of the religion”, she said. declared.
She also helped lead the Young Global Citizens Group for five years, helping young people of all traditions learn to connect with God and serve the community.
The World Citizens Youth Group received the “Organization of the Year” award from the City of Bradford in 2020 for its service to the community. It was during this time that Akhavan was able to take a step back as the older youth became supervisors / facilitators.
Akhavan is also a board member of the Bradford West Gwillimbury (BWG) Diversity Action Group (DAG) and has been a member for five years. She strives to raise awareness of diversity and how it can be our “strength rather than a point of conflict”.
She has also served on the Board of the BWG Library for two and a half years.
Throughout the pandemic, she created two groups: “Women for Hope” and the “BWG Baha’i Women’s Group”.
“Women for Hope is a group of women who hope to make change by giving service,” she explains. “I started by inviting some of my friends from different areas of my life (work, committees, Baha’i community) to come together to help the community.”
The group has carried out several campaigns for women’s shelters, Youth Haven in Barrie, the EFRY shelter in Barrie (Elizabeth FRY Society) and served meals at Inn from the Cold in Newmarket.
“I hope to open up this group to serve as a general hub for women who wish to be of service to participate in some or all of the projects,” she said.
Every Sunday evening Akhavan hosts a virtual prayer meeting with members of the BWG Baha’i Women’s Group where the women encourage each other and discuss community issues such as “equality” and “the unity of humanity.” .
“We also run service projects and worked with the Bradford women’s group to ‘Fill a Purse’ [campaign], and “Women for Hope” for International Women’s Day, [as well] led for the food bank, ”she said. “This group is open to everyone, even though we call it the Bradford Baha’i Women’s Group, because that’s how it started.
Every other Friday, she also helps organize and deliver food for the Bradford Helping Hand Food Bank.
In his spare time Akhavan enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, cooking, gardening, and hosting potlucks and prayer meetings where “people from all walks of life can come together and pray for unity, healing and peace in the city. this world “.
“I am driven to volunteer by my faith. I am a Bahá’í and believe that “deeds and not words should be (our) adornments” and that prayer and service must go hand in hand if we are to truly worship God. “