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Scholarship Programme News (2008-2009)


Alumi Meetings in Dushanbe and Moscow


A group of scholarship graduates met in Dushanbe on April 29 to attend presentations by Yodgor Faizov, the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Tajikistan, and Dilovar Butabekov, Campus Head of the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Khorog.

Yodgor gave a detailed description of AKDN’s extensive work in Tajikistan, which includes programmes in civil society, culture, disaster management, economic development, education, health, microfinance, regional cooperation and rural development, and explained the many opportunities that are open to scholarship alumni within the Network.

Dilovar presented the current work of the SPCE in Khorog, which offers certificate courses in accounting, tourism, agro-processing, small business management, English and IT, as well as vocational courses in carpentry and construction, with a view to improving employment and income generating opportunities for youth and adults. He also described UCA’s Faculty Development Programme, which provides fellowships for Master’s degree courses and doctoral studies at collaborating universities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and Switzerland, with plans for similar cooperation with Cambridge University in the UK. Dilovar encouraged alumni to consider further studies to prepare them for academic work with UCA once the three campuses in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan open.

To learn more about AKF’s work in Tajikistan and UCA, please consult their websites at and

The following alumni from the Tajik Scholarship Programme (TSP), the International Scholarship Programme (ISP) and the AKDN-Chevening Scholarship Programme attended the meeting: Shahnoza Mamadatoeva (TSP 03-08), Mavzuna Shozodaeva (TSP 01-06), Firuza Saifiddinova (TSP 98-06, ISP 07-10), Roziya Kirgizbekova (TSP 01-05), Parviz Shomirzoev (TSP 00-05), Vadim Sadonshoev (TSP 00-04), Davlatsulton Dargabekova (TSP 98-02), Husnoro Dodikhudoeva (TSP 97-01), Umed Kalandarov (TSP 97-03), Kirgizbek Kanunov (TSP 97-03), Shodi Abdulvosiev (TSP 99-03, ISP 04-06), Shodmon Hojibekov (ISP 07-08), Ali Naemi (ISP 96-98) and Munira Chudoba (AKDN-Chevening 02-03). Also present were Sharofat Mamadambarova of UCA’s Humanities Programme; Shenila Momin, Scholarship Officer-AKES visiting from Houston, Texas; Nakhat Abdulofizov, Head of Education at AKES in Khorog; and Azima Mavlonazarova, AKDN HR Cooordinator.

Alumni in Dushanbe, Tajikisan.  Click on photo for larger image.

Following the presentations and the photo session, alumni discussed their concerns about scholarship loan repayments and were directed to the Aga Khan Education Service in Khorog, which is responsible for collecting loan refunds in Tajikistan. They also discussed the possibility of setting up a social networking site for alumni, either on Facebook or as a stand alone site, and were enthusiastic about the idea. Some Tajik scholars have already set up a site on Facebook, which could be integrated into a larger ISP site.

Many thanks to Yodgor and Dilovar for their interesting and stimulating presentations and to Azima and Davlatsulton for the organization of the meeting.


There are close to 30 ISP students and alumni living in Moscow and the Aga Khan Foundation (Russia) organized a get together for them in Moscow on May 3rd when Catherine Hieronymi was visiting. Those who came were: Saida Mamadnazarova (ISP 08-10), Jamshed Muborakshoev (ISP 05-09), Khushnud Nazrishoev (ISP 08-11), Afifa Olamova (ISP 08-11), Nigina Rakhmikhudoeva (ISP 06-09), Zainura Vafobekova (ISP 07-10), Farangis Alibakhshova (ISP 05-08), Borkhotun Iskandarkhanova (TSP 98-04, ISP 04-07), Firuz Nazarshoev (TSP 95-03), Olimi Shirinbek (ISP 01-05), Himat Sulaimonov (ISP 03-06), Yusuf Saidbekov (TSP 93-00) and Shodmon Shakarbekov (TSP 93-97).

Students in Moscow, Russia.  Click on photo for larger image.

The alumni meeting was organised by Farid Daya, the AKF Chief Executive Officer, who is working with the group on various voluntary activities aimed at assisting the Tajik migrant community in Moscow.

The first programme that the alumni themselves proposed and which is already being implemented is the Doctors Initiative. It includes 22 Tajik doctors, nine of them AKF scholarship alumni, who provide exceptional voluntary service to the migrant community from the Pamirs. The programme provides a hotline where migrants can call for medical assistance and advice. The AKF Medical Coordinator is in charge of the hotline and contacts the doctors when their services are required. The doctors hold monthly awareness seminars on health issues, such as TB and reproductive health, and make home visits to screen patients.

Some of the other plans for alumni participation are: a Lawyer’s Initiative, a database of professionals in Russia, support for newly arrived students in Moscow, and tutorials and language training for students in the summer. It was suggested that this programme of alumni activities could become a model for other countries where there are significant numbers of scholarship graduates.

Many thanks to Farid Daya and his assistant, Nazira Joldoshbekova, for the excellent organisation and warm welcome.


Alumni Meetings in North America


ISP alumni and students from Northeastern USA met at the Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston on February 21 to network and learn about new initiatives and opportunities within the Aga Khan Development Network.Among the speakers was Karim Lakhani, an ISP alumnus and a professor at the Harvard Business School, who made a presentation about his work and research on open source communities. Karim explained the characteristics and motivation behind such virtual communities which bring together people to develop innovative products or find solutions to problems through the principles of giving, receiving and reciprocating. The ensuing discussion explored the impact of open source communities in bringing about advances in biotechnology and in finding innovative solutions to challenges in social development. Aga Khan Foundation USA was represented by Qahir Dhanani, a former staff member and current HBS student. Qahir spoke about AKF USA’s programmes and its partnerships with other development organizations in North America. Amin Noorani, AKDN HR representative in North America, focused his presentation on the Network’s activities in Central Asia and spoke about the human resource needs and opportunities in that region.

AKF Scholarship, Boston meeting.Click on image for larger photo. Left to right (front): Kamini Dandapani, Durriya Netterwala-Doctor, Robin VanLiew, Farzana Mohamed, (back): Husain Gulamhusein, Vijay Dandapani, Karim Lakhani, Amin Noorani, Azim Rawji, Khalil Pirani, Qahir Dhanani. The ISP participants were Karim Lakhani (ISP 97-98), Assistant Professor at the Technology and Operations Management Unit, Harvard Business School; Husain Gulamhusein (ISP 08-10), currently pursuing an MS in Population & International Health at Harvard University; Vijay Dandapani (ISP 85-87), President and Chief Operating Officer at Apple Core Hotels in New York; Farzana Mohamed (ISP 99-00), Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham, Massachusetts; Durriya Netterwala-Doctor (ISP 85-87), Director at Comverse Network Systems, a telecommunications company; Khalil Pirani (ISP 82-89), Associate/Senior Architect at Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott; and Azim Rawji (ISP 91-95), an electrical engineer with ART Engineering Corp.

Over lunch, the ISP group watched several videos on AKDN projects, including the restoration of Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi and Babur’s Garden in Kabul. The group expressed interest in staying connected with each other and with AKDN through networking websites and self-organized alumni get-togethers in their region. The alumni were encouraged to stay informed about AKDN’s initiatives through the website and the AKDN news bulletin. Many thanks to Shenila Momin, Amin Noorani and Karim Lakhani for helping with the meeting arrangements and Qahir Dhanani for representing AKF at this session.


On the following Saturday, February 28, another ISP group met at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) in Toronto. The following alumni and students took part: Karimah Alidina (ISP 08-10) who is in the first year of an MSc in Nursing at McMaster University: Anna Ekins (ISP 07-09) in the first year of her MA in Social Work at the University of Toronto: Rahat Jodoshalieva (ISP 08-10) who just started her EdD in Sociology in Education at OISE; Mehrunnisa (Mehru) Ali (ISP 91-92) who teaches at the Ryerson Polytechnic University, School of Early Childhood Education; Ruhman Ali (ISP 69-71), Vice President Marketing at a stationery company in Ontario; Alnoor Gulamani (ISP 79-82), President of Bayview Hospitality Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ontario; Karim Ismail (ISP 78-80), an author and workshop leader with Avidium in Markham, Ontario; Irfan Lakha (ISP 05-07) who is Project Manager at a real estate development company in Vaughan, Ontario; Akbarali Mahesaniya (ISP 99-03) and Rafikali Momin (ISP 97-01) both employed at Labstat International in Kitchener, Ontario; Sholeh Popatia (ISP 06-07), who is with Save the Children Canada in Toronto; Sarfaroz Niyozov (ISP 97-01 ) Assistant Professor at OISE and one of the speakers; and Rumina Sunderji (ISP 90-94) employed as a Senior Contracts Manager at MDS Pharma Services in Mississauga, Ontario. AKF Scholarship alumni, TorontoClick on photo for larger image. Left to right (front): Rahat Joldoshalieva, Shelina Karmali, Karimah Alidina, Mehru Ali, Akbarali Mahesaniya, Rafikali Momin, Sarfaroz Niyozov, (back): Rumina Sunderji, Sholeh Popatia, Ruhman Ali, Karim Ismail, Irfan Lakha, Khalil Shariff, Amin Noorani, Alnoor Gulamani and wife, Karimah’s husband.

The presentations focused on the work of AKDN and the development needs of Central Asia, where the Network has many activities. The speakers were Khalil Shariff, the Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada; Shelina Karmali, Former CEO of Aga Khan Education Service, Tajikistan; Sarfaroz Niyozov and Amin Noorani, AKDN Recruitment Officer for North America. Anna Ekins took detailed notes on the presentations:

Khalil Shariff’s presentation was about the nature and direction of the work of the AKDN and the relationship between AKDN and Canada. He mentioned the five key elements on which AKDN bases its work: let the community lead, build institutions, invest in people, take a long term view and reject silver bullets. The Canadian government has shown its confidence in these values by contributing more total and per capita support to AKDN than any other developed country government. AKDN has a large number of initiatives in Canada, including the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, the Global Centre for Pluralism, and the Aga Khan Museum. In addition to financial support, Canada is an important source of human resources for the Network.

The current work of AKFC includes: multi-input area development in rural areas; teacher training; early childhood development; higher education; and Partnership Walks (annual fundraisers).

The key points that emerged from the discussions with participants were:

Shelina Karmali presented her own experiences living and working in Central Asia as well as areas of opportunity in the region and particularly in Khorog, the provincial capital of Gorno Badakhshan in Tajikistan. The opportunities she discussed included: the need for goods and services in Khorog in general and in anticipation of the opening of the University in Central Asia and incoming students in particular. This includes laundry services, coffee shops, restaurants, guest houses and, entertainment; the need for diversification of goods available in the local bazaar; early childhood development initiatives such as kindergartens, preschools and culturally appropriate children's stories; and diversification of crops and hydroponics. The issues and concerns regarding these opportunities included: government restraints on business development; high levels of inflation due to remittances from Russia; the poor quality goods being imported; and current building construction practices that are not tremor/earthquake safe.

The key points from the question and answer period were:

Amin Noorani’s presentation provided an overview of the AKDN, its work and its distinguishing features and elaborated on the work of different AKDN institutions including AKAM, AKF, AKTC, AKES, AKHS, AKPBS, UCA, and AKFED. The unique career characteristics, current recruitment opportunities as well as how to apply for AKDN openings were also discussed.

The key points from the discussions which followed:

In the final presentation, Dr. Sarfaroz Niyozov spoke about the professional status of teaching in general and highlighted concerns specific to teaching in Tajikistan. The concerns raised included:

Many thanks to the speakers for interesting and stimulating presentations and to Amin, Sarfaroz and Anna for assistance with the organization and reporting.


We are extremely grateful for the contribution from Shahida and Alnoor Jinah who donated C$ 15,000 in 2008 in memory of their son, Ameer, who died in a tragic accident in February 2004. This is the fourth annual contribution to the International Scholarship Programme of a 10-year pledge by the Jinah family.

Alumni Updates
The Blue Manuscript, by Sabiha Khemir"The Blue Manuscript", by Sabiha KhemirSabiha Khemir (ISP 85-89), author, artist, art historian and museum director, has written a new novel, The Blue Manuscript. It is about a quest for the legendary blue manuscript of medieval Islam and takes place at an archaeological excavation in a small village outside of Cairo. The book is a many-layered account describing how the blue manuscript was created and the uneasy relationship between the international team of archaeologists searching for the manuscript and the local villagers they work with, as well as between Islam past and present and Islam and the West. The Times Literary Supplement describes the novel as “a strange and engrossing cross-cultural fable”. Another reviewer writes “It positively teems with colours, sounds, scents and languages…It could hardly be more timely and apposite.” The Blue Manuscript was published in November 2008 by Verso, London and New York.

Faisal Devji (ISP 86-90), historian, author, professor, had a new book out in November 2008 published by Columbia University Press in the USA and to be published in February 2009 by Hurst in the UK, called The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics. Faisal argues that new forms of militancy, such as the actions of al-Qaeda, are informed by the same desire for agency and equality animating other humanitarian interventions, such as environmentalism and pacifism. To the militant, victimised Muslims are more than just symbols of ethnic and religious persecution—they represent humanity’s centuries-long struggle for legitimacy and agency. Acts of terror, therefore, are fueled by the militant's desire to become a historical actor on the global stage. Though they have yet to build concrete political institutions, militant movements have formed a kind of global society, and this society pursues the same humanitarian objectives that drive more benevolent groups.

Zamila Karimi (ISP 80-82) held the opening on November 6, 2008, of the Connexion Gallery and Design Studio, a new venture which she has started with a partner in Dunwoody, Georgia. Their vision is to promote interaction between art, culture and the built environment. The Design Studio provides services in Architecture, Interior and Exhibition Design with an emphasis on Sustainability. The Gallery displays art as related to both contemporary architecture and interior design. Their website can be found at

Dr. Jared Mecha

Dr. Jared Mecha (ISP 06-07) returned to Nairobi after his MSc degree course in Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London in 2007 and has been extremely busy since his return. He is currently an Advisor to the National TB Programme; lectures at the University of Nairobi in the Department of Clinical Medicine and Therapeutics; is the Technical Advisor to the National Antiretroviral Therapy Task Force; works with the Kenya Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Lung Diseases; and is developing a surveillance system to monitor the incidence of occupational lung diseases. Jared is putting to very good use the expertise he acquired in London.

The following alumni have made donations to the International Scholarship Programme in the last months of 2008: Shamsah Dhala (ISP 02-04) repaid her entire scholarship (loan and grant), the grant part being $27,180. Alireza Mirshahi (ISP 94-00) sent a cheque for EUR 500 in September 2008; Azim Rawji (ISP 91-95) put a cheque for $5,000 for the ISP in his December 2008 greeting card. The Aga Khan Foundation is very grateful to these alumni for their generosity. The funds will be used to assist ISP students in the coming year.

Dissertations by ISP Graduates
Nataliya Avakova (ISP 00-04), “Rural Households, Livelihood Strategies and Reproductive Labour in the Era of Neoliberal Restructuring”, PhD degree in Rural Studies, University of Guelph, July 2008.
Nataliya’s thesis investigates the factors that influence the redistribution of social reproductive responsibilities of spouses in rural Ontario communities. Her study examines the impacts of neoliberal restructuring on gender divisions of reproductive labour through the livelihood strategies of couples and through their involvement in the labour market.

Shodmon Hojibekov (ISP 07-08), “The Role of Local Communities in Confronting Social Problems: a Case of Illicit Drugs in Jamoat Porshnev of Tajikistan”, MA in International Development Management, University of Bradford, September 2008.
Shodmon’s research investigates the prevalence of drug addiction and the drug trade in Porshnev, a district of Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast in Tajikistan, on the border with Afghanistan. He interviews individuals, community leaders and drug addicts to study the reasons leading to addiction and to reflect on ways to eradicate the problem.

Shodigul Alimshoeva (ISP 07-08), “Obstacles and Opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment in the Energy Sector of Tajikistan”, MSc in International Business and Management, University of Bradford, 2008.
Shodigul focuses on the energy sector in Tajikistan in order to identify the existing and potential opportunities and obstacles for foreign investors. The energy sector is important to Tajikistan since the country is poor and lacks the natural resources, such as oil and gas, that are helping to revitalise the economy of its neighbours in Central Asia. It’s abundant water resources, however, are attractive to foreign investors for the generation of electricity.

Md. Amin Hunzai (ISP 07-08), “An Investigation into the Role Dimensions of Building Management System (BMS) in Operations and Management of Building Services Infrastructure”, MSc in Built Environment: Facility and Environment Management, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, London, September 2008.
A Building Management System (BMS) is a computer-based control system installed in buildings, usually large ones. It controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment, such as ventilation and lighting and power, fire and security systems. Amin looks at BMS technology from the client’s perspective and proposes that, along with the traditional role of BMS to automate the control of building services and systems, there is a need to integrate the different facility services and operations in a facility-wide information system. He proposes a conceptual framework and model for technology appraisal to help clients evaluate BMS technology and build a balance among building services, control systems and occupant interaction.

Samah Haidar (ISP 07-08), “ICT Strategies, Development and Higher Education: A Case Study of Syria”, MSc in Information and Communication Technology for Development, University of Manchester, 2008.
Samah’s study focuses on two Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategies in Syria which are meant to promote development. She investigates whether the ICT strategies for socio-economic development and that of higher education support the development process or whether they can be improved upon to achieve their aim. She concludes that though ICT can be an effective tool for Syria’s development objectives, especially through higher education, this technology should focus more on human development than on socio-economic development.

Manoj Misra (ISP 2006-08), “Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs): Ideological Shift or Renewing Legitimacy? The Case of Bangladesh”, MA in Sociology, University of Alberta, Fall 2008.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) were introduced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1999. The PRSPs were described as a major shift in the strategy for fighting poverty and were to replace the Washington Consensus, the underlying ideological framework of structural adjustments. In his thesis, Manoj studies the case of the Bangladesh PRSP and analyzes the policies of the Bank and the IMF. He argues that the PRSPs have been introduced because of the legitimacy crisis suffered by the two organisations due to the implementation of the adjustment programs and are really only a makeover bid. The only difference with the Washington Consensus is that the PRPS invites civil society to build consensus around the policy.

New ISP Scholars in 2008-2009
The Aga Khan Foundation is pleased to announce the new recipients of its international scholarships:

Karimah Alidina (Pakistani), MSc, Nursing, McMaster University, Ontario

Amir Ali (Pakistani), MSc, Radiation Physics, University College London

Rozik Chorshanbiev (Tajik), MSc, Information Systems & Management, University of Warwick

Sharaf Davlatov (Tajik), MA, Sustainable Development, SIT Graduate Institute, Brattleboro,Vermont

Husain Gulamhussein (Canadian), MSc, Population & International Health, Harvard University

Erum Haider (Pakistani), MA, Social Sciences, University of Chicago

Zahra Ismail (Canadian) MS, Public Health, Columbia University

Ambreen Jahangir (Pakistani), MSc, Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, University of Southampton

Rahat Joldoshalieva (Kyrgyz), EdD, Sociology in Education, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education

Basgul Jonboboeva (Tajik), Candidate of Medical Science, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Sechenov Medical Academy, Moscow

Samannaaz Khoja (Indian), MS, Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh

Saida Mamadnazarova (Tajik), Medical Specialty Training, Cardiology, Bakulev Scientific Center, Moscow

Peter Mawioo (Kenyan), MSc, Municipal Water & Infrastructure, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, The Netherlands

Aisha Mohammed (Kenyan), MSc, Public Health in Developing Countries, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Kayhan Natiq (Afghan), PhD, Health Systems, Johns Hopkins University

Kushnud Nazrishoev (Tajik), Candidate of Science, Geology, Perm State University, affiliated with the University of St. Petersburg

Fridavs Ogoev (Kenyan), MSc, Peace Studies, University of Bradford

Afifa Olamova (Tajik), Candidate of Medical Science, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Sechenov Medical Academy, Moscow

Fakhriniso Qurbonshoeva (Tajik), MA, Communications, Monash University, Australia (distance learning)

Ibrahim Shaddoud (Syrian) PhD, Archeology, University of Provence

Marziya Shodmonbecova (Tajik), MSc, Public Health in Developing Countries, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Malohat Shoinbodova (Tajik), MSc, Project Planning & Management, University of Bradford (special short program)

Ismail Siddiqui (Afghan), PhD, Horticulture & Agronomy, University of California, Davis

Sodatsho Sodatsairov (Tajik), MSc, Development Studies (with special reference to Central Asia), School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Haafiz Suleman (British), BCL/MJur, Civil Law, University of Oxford

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