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Headshot of Aly-Khan Rajani, smiling and wearing silver framed glasses, a red and olive green striped tie and a dark grey suit
Aly-Khan Rajani. Photo by Daniel Ehrenworth

Aly-Khan Rajani

“One wishes for a day when people everywhere can live with dignity”

Fave U of T moment
I worked in urban development in Zambia for a year, as part of my co-op program at U of T Scarborough. It was my first real international work experience, and it made me realize that alleviating poverty in any country is a tremendous challenge – and a global one.

A meaningful event
Before joining the Canadian International Development Agency’s Afghanistan Task Force, I worked for CARE International. After the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, I visited a camp for internally displaced people. I talked to a man whose daughter, Aysa, was no more than two. She was crying constantly for her mother, who had died in the earthquake. To be able to give that man and his daughter a winterized tent and some food and blankets emphasized for me that little things – in this case costing less than $100 – can save lives.

Your dream?
Ideally, if we’re talking about big dreams, I’d like to work myself out of a job in development. One wishes for a day when people everywhere can live with dignity.

Why volunteer?
I remember my first trip to India, and seeing all these little kids begging on the streets. I thought, “That could have been me, if my ancestors had not made the trek to East Africa.” I think we have a responsibility to give back.

What has winning the Gordon Cressy Award meant to you?
It was flattering that someone considered my contributions to be worthy of this prestigious award. It motivated me to do more.

See full list of Cressy Award interviews

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