TAAC –The Abdalian Star is Born

The untold story, thus far, of the creation of TAAC, short for The Abdalian Association Canada – that includes COVID-19 mitigating initiatives, community-outreach-programs (COPs), philanthropy, and more, unfolds here – welcome to an Abdalian journey, like no other…

December 2019 –The TAAC Team with Mary Ann Proulx of LOFT Crosslinks Street Outreach, New Market, York Regional Office…(L to R): Khurram Qureshi, Azhar Shah, Khaqan Khan, Guest Mary Ann Proulx [LOFT], Pervez Qreshi, Rahat Jalal, Ahmed Saeed, Arslan Qasmi & Imran Mir.

This is the real story of the exciting journey of Canadian Abdalians

What started as an informal gathering of like minded Abdalians in Canada, with an ‘informal’ meeting at the residence of Dr. Khaqan Khan, on a plush afternoon, on September 28, 2018, went on to become the historic beginning of the story of the Abdalians in Canada. It was a mammoth occasion in our short but exciting history: more than 78 Abdalians were in attendance, most with their ‘better-halves’, some even with the children too. The overall number of more than 120 individuals,on hand that day, was a testament to the Abdalian spirit. As usual, the hospitality of Dr. Khaqan Khan, supported by some of the equally young and enthusiastic ‘juniors’, was at full display. All the invites and attendees were delighted to establish contact – the camaraderie of CCH was at its usual display!

September 28, 2018 TAAC gathering at residence of Dr. Khaqan

One of the soft resolutions, agreed by all and sundry, on that chilly afternoon, was to make this kind of gathering and get-together a recurring event…lo and behold: the seeds of TAAC started to germinate that eventful day!

Enter Dr. Khaqan Khan, once again – circa June 23, 2019 – he invited Abdalians to meet again, at his place of course, this time a trifle more serious, towards forming an association. As many as 19 die-hards responded – on that wonderful and eventful day the word TAAC was coined and the unwritten charter floated!

June 23, 2019 - Team TAAC at the residence of Dr. Khaqan Khan

The Abdalian Association of Canada – TAAC for short – kick-off was successful, based on some of the objectives outlined by the one-man squad, made of 2 strong believers – Khaqan & Khaqan! The rest just nodded in agreement – it was a win-win formula for all, anyways!

Setting up TAAC was easy – to manage and run it was the challenge; enter the dedicated Team of MC and AC, meetings followed meetings, in rotation at each of the member’s house [some, like RJ tried his best to wriggle out of inviting everyone to his home, per his turn, per the unwritten tradition, but finding no support, had to give in to the merry band of 18 or so newly inducted MC/AC of TAAC!] Besides merry making, and eating delicious home-food, in turn, TAAC also took its form, at these forums, as you see it now: vibrant, fun and, above all, a binding force for the Abdalians of Canada – by now, thanks to Asim Elahi, their IT GURU par excellence, their numbers were starting to be given a shape in the form of our very own TAAC Database…almost 30 [which has now grown into a formidable 103 members] were now registered Abdalians in Canada…big number, would you say? Sure, for the starters… but wait till you hear the total at the end, as of writing of this unbelievable story.

Whilst the TAAC was in its infancy, circa September 2018, the first major philanthropic venture was launched with great zeal and pride: yes, at the request of our dear teacher – Mahfouz ur Rahman saheb – we embarked on a funds campaign for the ambulance for his college in Narowal, where he was the Principal. A whopping C$ 6,782 were collected, thanks to the wonderful generosity of all Abdalians living in Canada, and dispatched to him, as the first major overseas outreach program of TAAC. The ‘Narowal Ambulance’ was born on a bright winter morning in early 2019…rest, as they say, is history, or will be!

Summer 2019: The Ambulance inducted in Narowal, by Mahfooz ur Rahman saheb, courtesy of TAAC.

Summer 2019: The Ambulance inducted in Narowal, by Mahfooz ur Rahman saheb, courtesy of TAAC.

Next, it was decided, naturally, to announce the TAAC presence in a befitting way, by preparing for, and holding, our First Annual Get-together and Musical Evening. Preparations started in right earnest

Meantime, Abdalian Khalid Usman, organized the Annual Shaukat Khanum Memorial Fund and invited Abdalians to participate. The response was overwhelming: 2 tables were booked, exclusively, by Abdalians, contributing C$ 2,000 to the Fund. The TAAC outreach, to the famous SKMF, was thus successfully achieved in/around the first week of October 2018.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Gala participants (L to R): Abid Maqbool, Liaqat Ali, Rahat Jalal, Khaqan Khan, Khalid Usman, Sohail Raza

March 22, 2019: At the fund raiser for the Markham Stouffville Hospital with Mayor of Markham - FrankScarpitti…

Whilst the outreach for overseas projects already started, there was a feeling among the TAAC members to extend the outreach to the local Canadians too. Enter the MSH Funds Drive again [MSH, acronym for Markham Stouffville Hospital], at the request of Abdalian Khalid Usman. On March 22, 2019 TAAC collected and contributed another significant amount – this time C$ 2,200 – for this local hospital outreach.

Meantime, as the preparations for the Get-together and Musical Evening were in full swing, the TAAC lust for outreach, both internally, within Canada, as well as externally, overseas, continued, in jest.

On October 25, 2019, as an urgent help, C$ 300 were rushed to a female student of University of Engineering in Taxila, Pakistan. As a result of this donation the student managed to continue her study, which is continuing, with flying colours, to this day.

Time had been fleeting, meantime, and it was the clarion call to our much-awaited Get-together and Musical Evening, come Saturday, 13th November, 2019. This most anticipated program was the culmination of the Abdalian joy and pride!Several myths were shattered, that eventful but bitter cold night to this day. Women empowerment, however small, anybody? Likt tey say, ‘a well begun is half done. 

Aamir Masood, whom everyone thought was an engineer only, however successful, were surprised to see his management skills in accounting and keeping records; at the entrance, the two-person Team of him and his wife provided an ideal and organized entry protocol; his role, short of that of a ‘bouncer’ was a revelation! For the bouncer, though, we had the other surprise waiting: the ubiquitous Aseem Hashmi and his 2-IC for the function that night only – Ahmad Saeed Chaudhry. Talking of Chaudhry saheb, one more myth got shattered: those who thought he is only a Bell Senior Executive, were surprised, actually shocked, very pleasantly with his sponsor-gathering spiel – he lined up almost all the known Desi restaurants in and around Milton and Mississauga – a cool sponsorship spree resulted. 

Talking of myths, the one-and-only GS of the fledgling TAAC – none other than Shah ji [Azhar Ali Shah] – was the major-domo of the entire operation working in tandem with Asim Elahi, his wife, daughter, Pervez saheb & RJ – not necessarily in that order, though – and supported the young-at-heart RJ hone his MC skills, or the lack of them, all one after the other. The music performing trio of Qareen [vocals & harmonium], Moosa Mall [tabla] and Farooqi [harmonium] enthralled the audience, as did the surprise singer of the evening and wife of an Abdalian – Mrs. Khawaja Rizwan. Her melodious voice, recollecting the golden-oldies of Pakistan, were a treat and took away the proverbial cake. As if not enough, the celebrity guests of the evening – including Iqra Khalid (Member Parliament), Kaleed Rasheed (Member Provincial Parliament), Imran Siddiqui (Consul General Pakistan in Toronto), Zeeshan Hamid (Councillor Milton) et al – made the occasion a memorable one indeed. All in all, an evening to remember!

Back to the outreach, meantime, the mainstay of TAAC and our philanthropy thrust:

  • On 12th and 19th December, 2019 respectively, TAAC contributed to the LOFT Street Outreach Program, both in cash and kind, for over C$ 350…Mary Ann Proulx of LOFT personally attended our get together to say a warm and personal ‘thank you, TAAC Team’!
  • This was followed by donations to Oakville Salvation Army & Lighthouse Shelter on 11th April 2019 for C$ 230
  • Then on by donation to Muslim Welfare Centre, on 10th May, 2019 for C$ 133

April 11, 2019: Khaqan and Azhar with the Manger of Oakville Salvation Army & Lighthouse Shelter.

May 10, 2019: Khaqan and Azhar at the Muslim Welfare Centre donation

On 17th April 2020, due to the unfortunate onslaught of Covid-19, TAAC managed to extend specially prepared packs of food items for an entire village, in Fateh Jang, Pakistan, to the tune of Pak Rs 30,000. This took care of a whole month of ration for the needy of the village

On May 15, 2020, when an Abdalian at Shifa Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan required assistance, TAAC responded with a modest C$ 2,000 contribution. 

By now, Covid-19 and its onslaught had affected the morale of everyone, Canada being no exception; TAAC rose to the occasion and on June 21, 2020 a seminar was conducted by two Abdalian colleagues – Doctors Yasser and Tayyab – on the pandemic and how best to prepare for it. It was a thumping success, deeply appreciated by all the attendees. 

Finally, for the Telethon for Shaukat Khanum Hospital, arranged and organized by Abdalian Khalid Usman, on Sun, November 8, TAAC collectively contributed a whopping and record-breaking C$ 4,055 to the fund, in line with our outreach lofty ideals. 

November 8, 2020: TAAC contributed C$ 4,075 to the Shaukat Khanum Fund, through the telethon, for the hospital project in Karachi.

Despite a fledgling organization, with a humble beginning, TAAC managed to contribute to as many as 13 different programs, internally as well as externally, over the first year of its existence and as an infant organization. In dollar terms this amounts to a social contribution of over C$ 25,000.