Zaman International is a needs-based non-profit, community-based humanitarian organization that aims to break cycles of poverty for marginalized women and children. Recently, its founder and CEO, Najah Bazzy, was named one of six Muslim opinion leaders by the Women’s World Magazine. In 2019, she was named one of Top 10 CNN Heroes for his work with Zaman.
Bazzy says she started Zaman as a result of her work as a transcultural nurse, which brings the cultural theory model to the bedside. Zaman means “time” in Arabic, referring to an era of time in stewardship of each other.
Listen: Najah Bazzy talks about his work with Zaman International.
In 1996, Najah Bazzy was caring for a family of Iraqi refugees, whose baby was dying in hospital. As a cross-cultural nurse, she negotiated to have the baby brought home.
“I took the baby home on a ventilator,” Bazzy explains, “with the hospice, and then I went to visit the family. And there was nothing in the house. And that’s when I saw they built a crib out of a laundry basket for the baby to die in a laundry basket…on clean white towels.
Bazzy thought the family was moving in. This was not the case.
“They just had nothing. I left that house, I cried and I called my mother. We rented a U-haul truck with my kids and emptied everything out of my house and his house…to fill their house.
She says it was her first taste of poverty reduction.
The organization grew out of Bazzy’s van from 1996, officially becoming Zaman International, in 2004, it became a nonprofit organization that helps marginalized women and children in the Detroit metro area and around the world. They later crowdfunded to open a location in Inkster in 2016.
“I feel like that [Zaman] draws a parallel to the resilience of the women we care for because I wasn’t going to give up… the idea of just doing the job, not thinking of an address, not caring if there was a building, not even s care if there was an organization. I really care about the need.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
Zaman International works on the model of meeting people where they are and asking them how they want to be helped. She says that the preservation of people’s dignity is a fundamental value. The nonprofit organization provides job training, job preparation and job placement assistance to help break the cycle of poverty, Bazzy says.
She says two such programs are the Rising Hope Bakery Culinary Program and the Industrial Sewing Center. She says that since December, Zaman has hired 10 clients as employees with living wages.
“I feel like giving alms is not just about lifting that person in that family out of poverty like almost physically out of poverty. But it builds something inside of that mom, where she knows she has purpose and she has self-esteem. And that kind of dignity for me is paramount.
Using faith, spirituality and justice as a framework
Bazzy says spirituality and faith play a part in his work.
“I believe in justice and that is how my faith translates into Zaman. I believe in human fairness.
She says it is up to us to take care of each other with what God has given us.
Having recently been named one of six Muslim opinion leaders by Women’s World MagazineBazzy says she feels honored.
“But I also feel a sense of responsibility for how we as Muslim women can not only open doors for Muslim women, but how can Muslim women influence the world.”
Bazzy hopes Zaman will become a household name, “from a public point of view, from a political point of view. I want Zaman on the floor of the Senate fighting for poverty reduction in the United States.
She hopes the Zaman model will become a global movement.