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Life's work centres on charitable deeds - 2008-11-25

Tuesday, 2008, November 25
The Province
Cheryl Chan

The Aga Khan is the founder and head of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of nine agencies working to improve communities and living conditions in Central and South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.
The network group is non-denominational and works in some countries that do not have an Ismaili population. It has an annual budget of more than $500 million US. Its agencies include: - Aga Khan Foundation: Partners with international agencies to tackle development problems. Its Canadian arm, based in Ottawa, supports micro-financing, rural development, and health and education projects in Eastern Africa and South Central Asia.

- Aga Khan Education Services: Operates more than 300 schools from preschool to secondary level in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya and Tajikistan.

- Aga Khan Health Services: Runs community health programs in more than 200 hospitals and clinics across the world.

- Aga Khan Planning and Building Services: Focuses on housing, village planning, environmental sanitation and improving living conditions in both urban and rural areas of the developing world.

- Aga Khan Trust for Culture: Focuses on the revitalization of communities in the Muslim world and funds grants in the field of architecture, music and preservation of historic cities.

In B.C., the Ismaili community has a strong tradition of philanthropy and volunteerism: - The annual Ismaili Walk, founded in 1991, has raised more than $2.2 million for non-profit organizations in the Lower Mainland.

- From 2002 to 2007, it raised more than $1 million for the United Way to help disadvantaged kids.

- Also this year, the World Partnership Walk, a walkathon in nine cities across Canada, raised more than $5.5 million for the Aga Khan Foundation.

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