“It’s not like you have to go out and invent your own volunteer program,” says November’s Youth of the Month, Amy Bains. It isn’t about the recognition or the large groups to volunteer with, or even the large fundraisers to travel across the world and volunteer her time over there. Although these are of course appealing volunteer opportunities, Amy looks at volunteering with a new approach.
â€œI just want to help people and make them HAPPY!â€
These are the powerful words expressed by the inspiring and extremely self motivated 17 year old, Zoya Jiwa! When chatting with Zoya, enthusiasm, excitement, and pure passion for living life to its fullest are clearly evident in every word and every breath she takes! A girl who has gone through so much and has worked so hard to be where she is today, has made the conscious decision to remain optimistic at all times and never give up; an attitude that has brought her to where she is today!
Like many motivated teens, Zoya finds time to volunteer, play soccer, and indulge in her passion to paint and draw. Nonetheless, it doesnâ€™t come as easy to this young optimist! At the age of thirteen, she was diagnosed with Lupus. Although this may not do the disease and its side effects justice, in short form, Lupus is when the body fights all the GOOD cells instead of the BAD. With that diagnosis came a very weak immune system, many health issues, and of course medicines with side effects. One major side effect that this young teen experienced was a lowered self esteem. Such a beautiful young girl was not able to appreciate her outer as well as inner beauty. Nonetheless, by being surrounded by an extremely supportive and loving social and family circle along with her extremely positive attitude she said she â€œviewed [her] illness as a challenge rather than a limitation.â€ Being already so passionate about volunteering, and helping others prior to this diagnosis, she was able to carry that strength on and learn so much about herself through the experience that she wanted to do more to help others too!
â€œI wanted to help people be who they are.â€
So, in order to help other young people address their image issues while having fun doing it, Zoya decided to start up a group called â€œSimply Youâ€ that focuses on health and wellness. Although it is still in its beginning stages Zoya has many goals in mind for it, all centred around giving young individuals the power to embrace who they are!
Although unsure of what the future holds for Zoya at this point in time, she does know that wherever life takes her she wants to immerse her passions into that life. Helping people is key for her and so wherever she ends up she knows that is something she will continue to do for the rest of her life! She has already shown that it is possible to combine your passion and skills together to make a change and so there is no doubt that she will find a way to make a career of it! For now though, she is enjoying using her passion for art to make a positive change in the world by being a monthly blogger, and the youngest one on their site in fact, for ArtQuake (under the name zoyaj).
Along with starting up â€œSimply Youâ€, Zoya volunteers in the Ismaili Muslim community in whatever capacity is required on a day to day basis, has been a guest speaker at TEDxKids@BC , and is the co president of Students Council and MetoWe. She keeps herself busy but she also keeps herself positive in all the obstacles life may have to offer!
A strong girl with an illness that has the potential to tarnish her energy and happiness, can proudly say she has not let it knock her down ever without a fight! Being a Silver A Soccer star, a volunteer, a social butterfly and above all an extremely passionate and driven individual cannot always be an easy thing, but Zoya shows that with the right combination of optimism and passion, we can do ANYTHING!