Experiencing a completely different way of life and culture made me draw comparisons to my own life. Obviously, it highlights issues of materialism and made me really appreciate the significance of family and community. There was only 5,000 people on the island I was working on. They all knew and loved each other and were so welcoming to the volunteers.
23 May, 2013, Idlib, Syria. A young British-Asian Muslim from Willesden dies while working in a field hospital. Dr Isa Abdur Rahman was volunteering as a doctor in a country where medics treating civilians have been tortured and killed. Hospitals are routinely attacked and there is a dire shortage, therefore, of medical staff willing to work under such circumstances. Isa was my nephew. He was 26. His name means 'Jesus', who is also named as a prophet in the Quran. In the Quran, Jesus' death is different but he still dies a young man striving for good. Isa felt this was his 'jihad', his 'struggle for good'.
Christmas... it's not just for children; the true spirit of Christmas is about peace and love. So, with that in mind, I'm not going to offer you style inspiration, this year, on how to make your winter wonderland look even more enchanting, I'd like to give you something else to think about, something - dare I say it - more important.
Today we celebrate volunteers and volunteering across the world. But for us this is not just a celebration of volunteers as a token, 'useful' contribution to enable the paid staff to carry on with their work; but as true partners, fellow family members working together to bring lasting change to people who are in pain.
It started with passion, and ended with inspiration. London 2012 has delivered a stunningly successful Olympic Games and is now preparing for the Paralympic Games. The theme 'Inspire a generation' has captured the mood of the nation with high spirit and euphoria. From organisers to volunteers to athletes: people from all sections of life have made this success possible.