Najah Bazzy said goodbye to 2019 on a high note. The Founder and CEO of Zaman International wasn’t only named a CNN Hero, she was honoured by being placed in the top 10. In a network television special, the CNN Heroes awards are given to “everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world." Bazzy, who was born to a Syrian mother and Lebanese father, is making remarkable contributions to humanitarian aid through Zaman, which means time in several languages. The Inkster-based nonprofit helps improve the lives of the area’s poorest, marginalised women and children who come from all backgrounds.
“This journey has always been about how we spend our time in the stewardship of others," Bazzy, who ultimately aims to empower women so they can reach their potential, said in a press release. "By raising our profile and funds needed to continue our mission, I truly believe we can break the cycle of poverty and alleviate suffering."
The humanitarian nonprofit that Bazzy, a nurse by profession, launched helps women and children living under the poverty line by providing them basic necessities like food, clothes, furniture and shelter. Zaman International also offers the needy free education and job placement, as well as vocational training through its sewing and culinary arts programmes, which arm them with marketable skills to help make them self-sufficient.
The turning point for Bazzy came in 1996, when she visited an Iraqi refugee family to help care for their dying infant. The extreme poverty she witnessed during post-discharge house calls to hospital patients she nursed led her to start running her goodwill effort from her home. After years of transporting donated goods in her family's minivan, Zaman International, which has now helped over 250,000 people was born. Based in the 40,500-square-foot Hope for Humanity centre, Zaman International has also funded projects bringing humanitarian aid and safe drinking water to over 2 million people around the world by partnering with international relief organisations.
Bazzy was born and raised in Southeast Michigan, She earned her nursing degree from Madonna University and went on to specialise in critical care and transcultural nursing, which promotes cultural and spiritual competency within health care. She has practiced at Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai Grace Hospital, Harper-Hutzel Hospital and Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, where she developed a national model of transcultural clinical care.
As head of Diversity Specialists, a training group that promotes cross-cultural understanding between clinicians and patients, Bazzy has directed various workshops for healthcare administrators, practitioners, educators and policymakers on important cultural and spiritual matters when it comes to service delivery, ethical decision making, staff training and end-of-life care.
The second-generation American has also consulted and taught for the International Red Cross and the American Red Cross and lectured to nurses, doctors and social workers at universities all over the US. Bazzy, who has been a part of adjunct faculty at Michigan State University Institute of International Health in East Lansing, also holds a position at Bayan Claremont Theological School. As an interfaith leader, she has educated thousands about Islamic practices and beliefs through books, documentaries and the talks she gives in America and internationally.