“O My Shia, Remember me every time you drink water!”  Imam Hussain (AS)

Sunday, 27th September 2020

Respected Elders, Brothers, Sisters, and the Youth of Our Community

Salaam Alaikum

Over generations, we as a community, have shown our resilience and our ability through hardship and unprecedented times, to put the needs of others above our own.  Migrating from India, to Africa, then to the West, we have demonstrated our ability to adapt, but more importantly, our ability to come together from far and wide to make our impact on humanity.  We truly are at our best when we are together.

AAWA (Ali Asghar Water Appeal) is not just a cycling event, a sportive; AAWA sportive is a movement that demonstrates the best of who we are, the best of what we can achieve when we come together.  A cycle ride that started as a bit of banter 18 months ago, has evolved into a movement to bring clean water to hundreds of millions of people.

In 2019 a small group of riders ventured from London to Brighton (L2B), little did we know this would translate into a global movement.  This year has seen AAWA sportive successfully completed in Dubai, Toronto, cities around the United Kingdom, and today the London men’s ride, with the London (Ladies ride) to follow next week.  From 37 “band of brothers” in 2019, to over 250 global participants, men, women, and the youth of our community in 2020.  Martin Luther King once said the famous words “I have a dream……”   These few words started a movement that inspired the world.

Today marks the end of my two- and half-year journey as Head of SJ Cycling; and as my journey comes to an end, there is a new beginning for SJ Cycling.  Together we have grown from a few to over 100 cyclists; together we have built relationships and friendships that I will hold closely for years to come; together, in the last 18 months we have raised over £145,000 to make our impact on humanity; together we have shown we can influence change through our passion for cycling.

Tomorrow is the start of a new generation of leadership, shroud in our confidence, and equipped to move our club forward to new heights.  I have every confidence that Imran and his team have the ability, skills, professionalism, and passion to take our club forward, whilst remaining entrenched in the values and beliefs we hold so dear.

I have been truly humbled and blessed to have your support over the past two and half years, and I know you will continue to support Imran, his team, and our club going forward.  There are far too many people to thank, our sponsors, supporters, donors, and volunteers who have helped us over the years.  In the coming days and weeks, I will reach out to thank you individually so we can reminisce about our experiences and successes.

For now, let us keep #makingadifferencetogether.

Mohamed Ladha

Head, SJ Cycling