HAVING spent a few years of her life in Guyana during the early 1970s, following her marriage to a Guyanese jeweller in England, Diana Alli D’Souza considers herself to be an “honorary Guyanese”. Diana was born in Mumbai, India, made her home in Guyana leaving it in 1975 under difficult conditions. She, like hundreds of thousands of other Guyanese, has since made Toronto, Canada her home.
Last Saturday night, January 6, Diana was awarded the Medal of Distinction/Certificate of Award “For Community Service/Humanities/Education for her distinguished and outstanding services to Canada” by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada at a lavish dinner held at the Hungarian Canadian Community Centre, in North York, Toronto.
In an invited comment, a modest but proud Diana disclosed, “I am profoundly grateful and in awe receiving one of the most prestigious National Canadian Press Ethnic Medal of Distinction and Award by the members of the Board of Directors for Community Service, Humanities and Education for distinguished and outstanding service to Canada. I thank Executive Director Maria Saras-Voutsinas for nominating me, and President and CEO Thomas S. Saras for his endless faith in me.”
As Diana explained, “Altruism and Social Responsibility, Philanthropy and Volunteerism have been a passion of mine since a very young child. My parents have been my biggest role models who ensured that in their parenting skills and sage advice, no individual and especially no child, is deprived of the necessities at home or in school.
“They sent me to a Catholic school in Mumbai, India, that focused on caring for orphan children. They could very well have afforded a private school, but, to them, they believe in humility, humanitarianism, and a genuine interest in the well-being of the less fortunate. In turn, my passion for making a difference took leaps and bounds, setting a strong foundation to open doors for minorities and the underrepresented, positively impacting my perspective for the rest of my life supporting poverty, multi-faith, sexual orientation and underrepresentation. My global contributions now focus on these very premises.
“I have taken the pollen of four gurus and built my own tree of hope from Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Desmond Tutu, and from these saintly icons, I began my vision and framework that everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive and safe life.
“In all I do, my daily mantra goes like this, from the words of William Penn, ‘I will pass this way but once. If there’s any good that I can do, let me do it now, for I’ll never pass this way again. I will see this day but once; if there’s any kindness I can show, let me show it now, for I’ll never see this day again!’”
Maria Saras-Voutsinas, Executive Director National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, pointed out that “Diana embodies the best of humanity. She is constantly giving back to the most marginalised, and has always been a source of inspiration. It was my honour to recognise her as a pillar in multicultural communities.”