Meet CNN Muslim Hero Who Fights Poverty in Detroit

Inspired by her faith, a Muslim nurse in Detroit is providing support to thousands of impoverished women and children of all backgrounds in Detroit.

CNN Muslim Hero

Najah Bazzy has founded Zaman International, a non-profit organization to help people in poverty in Detroit area, the poorest big city in the United States.

In September 2019, Bazzy was honored by CNN. She was recognized as one of CNN’s heroes, a video series that highlights stories of inspiring people who do extraordinary things. 

“We’re a one-stop shop,” Bazzy said in her interview with CNN.

“We help our clients move from a ‘hand out’ to a ‘hands on,’ because when you’re in crisis … the idea of how to get yourself out of it is overwhelming.” 

The idea came first to the Muslim woman in 1996 when she visited an Iraqi refugee family to help care for their dying infant. She was shocked by the level of poverty engulfing the Iraqi family.

“There, at the house, I got my first glimpse of poverty. … They absolutely had nothing,” she recalled. “There was no refrigerator, there was no stove, there was no crib. … The baby was in a laundry basket, laying on clean white towels.”

“I was so devastated by that. … I decided that this wasn’t going to happen on my watch.”

That day, Bazzy and her family gathered all the furniture and household items that they could and delivered everything to the refugee family. She hasn’t stopped since.

Extraordinary Efforts

Now, Bazzy’s organization is providing help to more than 250,000 people.

The non-profit organization offers aisles of food, rows of clothes and vast arrays of furniture free to those in need as well as granting them access to housing and other services.

“We work to stabilize them as quickly as we can,” Bazzy said. “Women walk in and they are in desperate need, and they walk out with their basic needs met.”

It also offers clients free education and job placement, as well as vocational training through its sewing and culinary arts programs. The goal is to help women become self-sufficient.

“People just need an opportunity. And they need hope,” Bazzy said. “That’s what we do best.”

Want to get involved? Check out the Zaman International website and see how to help.

To donate to Zaman International via CrowdRise, click here

First published: October 2019