News

  • Thursday, July 29, 2021 10:01 AM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)
    The following presentation is Zoroastrian religion class teachers in North America. The contents of this presentation will be geared towards that target audience.

    FEZANA RELIGIOUS EDUCATION COMMITTEE PRESENTS

    HANDS ON WITH HAPPY HEARTS!

    Fun - filled religious class activities for the young Zarthushtis

    A Workshop by Vehishta Kaikobad

    Sat August 7, 2021, 3 PM Pacific | 6 PM Eastern


    Synopsis

    This workshop is geared towards encouraging educators to create and use hands on material and get ideas on activities that make learning fun in imparting religious education to children in their formative years.
     
    The session includes:
    • A glimpse at hands on , teacher made material on multiple topics.
    • Visual demonstration of activities, games , songs and projects related to topics such as the Jashan ceremony, and Haft Seen, or any topic requested by teachers prior to the workshop.

    About Vehishta Kaikobad

    Vehishta Kaikobad has been an educator for over 25 years working in the field of early childhood education based on the Montessori Method. She obtained her Montessori Diploma from St. Nicholas College, England. She was nominated and recognized by the Houston Children’s Museum for the “Spirros Martell Teacher of the Year” award in 2000.
    She currently works as a Teaching Artist at the Glassell Junior School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and also as an Educator at large, conducting innovative workshops and offering Outreach Programs.

    Vehishta also conducts educational programs at Asia Society Texas Center both in the capacity of an educator and a volunteer. She has been a Senior Docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for over 15 years earning the prestigious “Mary Benedict Docent of the Year” award in 2008.

    Vehishta continues to serve her community in the capacity of a Sunday School Educator at the Zoroastrian Association of Houston and beyond, since the 1980's. She has conducted Sunday School Workshops at national and international level using innovative teaching aids and methods. She spearheaded the first "Kids Congress" for NAZC in 2010 held in Houston and later, in New York in 2012 and Los Angeles in 2014.

    Vehishta remains dedicated to the cause of promoting Zoroastrian heritage and culture within the community and globally.


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  • Thursday, July 29, 2021 10:00 AM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)

    The World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce and Zoroastrian Entrepreneurship Development Foundation are bringing the Global Youngpreneurs Program.

    Program starts on August 2, 2021, so apply ASAP.

    The North American Chapters of WZCC and ZEDF are pleased to offer a “GLOBAL YOUNGPRENEURS “ online work shop for children 10-16 years of age.

    We would like to get in one more program during the 2021 school vacation period. 

    The Camp will be run by Dilnavaz Shroff of Sapphire Global Support, Inc. It is an outstanding workshop with interactive sessions focused on pitching business plans and getting empowered. It has been very well acclaimed in UK, Canada, Dubai & India.

    Entrepreneurship is the wave of the future and we want to give our kids a head start.

    The classes will be held online August 2, 3, 9, 10, 17 @ 9 -10 AM Pacific; 12 Noon-1 PM Eastern Time.

    It is important to make sure the student is committed and will not miss classes so as not to deprive other interested participants.

    Each of the following five (5) Chapters will be sponsoring four (4) students each. Please reach out to your local Chapter at the contact info below to register.

    Chicago
    Mani Rao maniraogandhi@gmail.com 630-452-4068

    Houston
    Sharmeen Irani sharmeen_irani@yahoo.com 832-661-5981

    New York
    Natalie Gandhi nvania@encouragenewbiz.com  973-652-3152

    Southern California
    Faridun Dadachanji fkdadacha@gmail.com 858-254-8097

    Toronto
    Cyrus Patel cyruspatel247@gmail.com 416-550-1700


    For questions and/or clarifications contact Dilnavaz Shroff at globalyoungpreneurs@gmail.com

    Register now for this exceptional Program by contacting the above listed WZCC Chapter closest to you.

    Find detailed information about the “Global Youngpreneurs” online workshop by clicking on the links below:

    Workshop Details
    Global Youngpreneurs Program Details
  • Wednesday, July 28, 2021 6:57 PM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)


    COMING UP THIS SATURDAY

    The Visitations from the World Above:
    Muktad, the Festival of Hamaspathmaēdaya


    The FEZANA Talks #23

    The FEZANA Talks is back for another enlightening session, this time to teach us more about Muktad, the Festival of Hamaspathmaēdaya! Zoroastrian rituals help traverse the liminal space between the physical and spiritual worlds and are best expressed through the annual Muktad celebration, where the souls and spirits of the dead are invited to earth to mingle with the living.

    This talk explores the rituals associated with the Muktad Festival in India and Iran and the Zoroastrian theological response to it through the enactment of ceremonies, remembering the dead. The Talk shall be delivered by Khojeste P. Mistree. A Q&A shall follow the talk, and shall be moderated by Dinsha Mistree.

    Date: Saturday July 31, 2021

    Time: 9 AM Pacific | 12 Noon Eastern | 5 PM London | 9:30 PM India

    Speaker Bio: Khojeste P. Mistree

    Khojeste P. Mistree is a Zoroastrian scholar and community builder.In addition to several journal articles, book chapters, and other writings, he is the author of Zoroastrianism — An Ethnic Perspective, and co-author of The Zarathushti Religion — A Basic Text. He has delivered more than 1,200 talks on Zoroastrianism and Parsi Affairs over the past four decades and has been featured in a variety of media outlets (BBC, CNN, PBS, etc.). In addition to his scholarship, Khojeste has created several community organizations including Zoroastrian Studies, The Athravan Educational Trust, and the World Alliance for Parsi Irani Zarthoshtis (WAPIZ). He was elected as a Trustee of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (2008-2015). Khojeste holds an Honours degree in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford, where he studied Zoroastrianism under the tutelage of Mary Boyce.

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  • Thursday, July 22, 2021 3:49 PM | ZSO Vice President (Administrator)

    The province has entered Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen, and we are happy to share that by following the changes under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) for places of worship alongside the reopening guidelines the Mehraban Guiv Darb e Meher (MGDM) will be reopening very soon with modified hours and some specific conditions. These conditions will continue ensuring all public health measures are followed including capacity limits, face coverings, physical distancing and environmental cleaning and disinfecting.  

    We thank you for your patience and understanding as we cautiously and gradually plan the reopening.

    Stay tuned for updated communications on the reopening plans and guidelines in the upcoming weeks.

    As part of the step three of Ontario’s Roadmap to reopening per the COVID-19, Government and Health Guidelines here is what will be allowed during the stage 3 of reopening: 

    Allowed

    Not Allowed

    • Participation of religious services is increased to 25 people including the priest(s) and volunteers.
    • Visits to the MGDM will by appointment ONLY 
    • The online self-assessment tool must be used for every visit to the MGDM 
    • The Covid-19 screener must be completed and presented to the volunteer who will be on-site on the day of visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/screening/customer/ )
    • Wearing a non-medical mask/face covering is mandatory 
    • Maintaining a social distance of two meters/six feet 
    • Bring your own prayer book and head covering 
    • Sukhar must be purchased at ZSO only and CANNOT be brought from home or outside 
    • Follow entry and exit signs 
    • Wedding and Navjotes will be permitted with 2M distancing along with capacity limitation and requirements
    • Social gatherings, including those that occur before or after a prayer service remains suspended 
    • Consumption of food and drink remains suspended, this includes donation of ravo, sev, malido, etc. 
    • No consumption of chasni by individuals
    • Avoid opportunities for the virus to spread through touch, either directly or indirectly through surfaces and objects, including objects that may be used in rituals or ceremonies. 









     

    Disclaimers and resources: 

    • “All visits to the MGDM are voluntary and at the visitor’s own discretion. Visitors must comply with applicable guidelines including limits on numbers, wearing of masks and physical distancing. All visitors are responsible for their own health & safety as well as respecting the health & safety of those around them.”
    • "Visitors must self-screen with the ZSO volunteer present when entering the MGDM at each visit. The volunteer will record the date, their name and contact information (phone and/or email) and that will only be used for contact tracing for COVID-19 purposes and will only be kept on file for 30 days.” 
    • Click here to learn more about the roadmap to reopening Ontario
  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 12:29 AM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)
    “It is NEVER too late to get involved in the community and we always welcome fresh new faces who are as passionate as us in making a positive difference by engaging and bringing the youth together”

     - Sanaya


    Hi Sanaya! Welcome to our coffee chat and it’s a pleasure to have you as our second guest!


    1.   Can you please tell us about yourself?

    Hi, I’m Sanaya Khambatta and I am 25 from the UK. I come from a business and technical background, having studied Information Technology Management for Business at university, and currently am working as a Senior Technical Consultant at IBM. I am extremely passionate about encouraging others to pursue a career in the technology sector and run yearly internships for university students and industry talks to share knowledge, skills, and expertise within the field. Being a proud Zoroastrian in the UK community, I have always enjoyed socialising with other Young Zoroastrians (YZs) which encouraged me to become more active and involved in the community. As a direct result of this, I am currently the Vice President of the Young Zoroastrians of the UK and Co-Chair for the 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress (8WZYC) in London 2023, which is a huge privilege.


    2.   How did you get involved with the English Zoroastrian community and what drives you?

    Growing up, my family always ensured that I had a strong sense of community. As a result, I always had Zoroastrian friends and engaged with them socially on a regular basis, whether that be through attending Sunday religious classes at our Zoroastrian Centre, where I had the opportunity to learn about the religion or having people over at our house. My parents ensured they always attended celebrations or events at the Zoroastrian centre whether that be Navroze, or community led initiatives etc., and encouraged me to surround myself with other Zoroastrians as well as the traditions and values of our community. These friendships continued over the years and became more and more important as I grew up. I loved that sense of belonging and being involved with others my age who weren’t just from school or extra-curricular activities. This helped shape my identity and instilled in me the values of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

    My main driving factor for getting involved and even now is to create an environment whereby the future Zoroastrian youth have that same feeling of a sense of community I did and to allow them the opportunity to grow and connect with each other. It is equally as important to get involved in community-based events as educating themselves on our religion, understanding their background/roots, and our traditions. I want individuals to follow the religion not because they must but because they want to be part of this community and environment.


    3.   How does the UK Zoro Youth stay in touch? Social events, volunteering, meet-ups, etc.?

    Pre-covid the UK YZ committee would organise and participate in several events on a yearly basis, in addition to other ad hoc activities to bring together our youth community including having our own volleyball team, Christmas ice skating, meals out, karate classes, sports days, gymkhanas, and other social activities. Every year 30+ YZs are welcomed with open arms on our annual weekend away at the ASHA Centre, within the heart of the Forest of Dean. This trip is a chance for Young Zoroastrians to engage in a weekend of various games and activities, spiritual bonding, teambuilding, religious  discussions, and relaxation combined with engaging creative exercises. Year upon year this truly is one of the highlights of our social calendar as it allows us to meet and spend quality time with individuals, who we may not have met otherwise, explore our religion in a new way, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.

    We largely communicate via social media pages (Instagram and Facebook) to engage with and reach our youth on a national level as well as spread awareness of community-based events and initiatives. Post- COVID we are looking to restart our social activities in a safe environment, to get the youth more involved, to expand our YZ committee, to return to the Asha centre, and to focus on the organisation of the 8WZYC.


    4.   Being the co-chair of the upcoming 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress to be held in London in 2023, how excited are you to be spearheading this major global Zoroastrian event?

    I am extremely delighted to be co-chairing the 8WZYC and we have a strong and enthusiastic team of volunteers to help bring our vision to life! These events are so important in bridging the gap between our global youth and to create a collaborative community. I hope that this congress will contribute towards a legacy for the community and provide a more sustainable future for generations to come. Furthermore, it provides the ideal opportunity to encourage the future generations of the Zoroastrian youth to work together to celebrate, educate, teach, and bond over the religion. I know we have big shoes to fill from previous years, but we are certainly up for the challenge, and I am excited to welcome our global YZ community to London with open arms!


    5.   Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced or are facing with the preparations for the Youth Congress?

    For us one of the biggest challenges so far has been the uncertainty that comes with the pandemic and for the future state of the world. At present, rules and regulations are changing on a weekly basis here in the UK and there is no real assurance of when life will get back to what we consider to be ‘normal’, we have just adjusted to a new norm with limited capacity events, closure of venues and travel restrictions. We want to ensure we can accommodate participation from our global youth; however, we have to factor in how we make an event of this size safe to do so in the new world and put into place contingencies if limited capacity and travel restrictions still exist


    6.   I remember meeting you at the Los Angeles Youth Congress in 2019, and you shared some of your amazing ideas with me, will you be incorporating some of them in the London edition? What did you personally like about that congress?

    As with any event everyone has ideas and visions and it can be a struggle to incorporate them all, however, we have been taking on board comments from the global youth, especially those who attended the last congress and other previous congresses, to learn from the past and create an even more enjoyable experience for the attendees. I still have notes on my phone from the last congress of things I wanted to remember to incorporate for the 8WZYC! At the end of the day this is a congress for the youth by the youth so we want to take their feedback and ideas on board where we can so watch this space for some exciting things to come!!

    With the 7WZYC in LA I loved the fact that everyone stayed in one location. I feel this was vital in getting to know and meet others as when panel talks or events were not going on, we had the opportunity to relax in a social environment with other participants. We were able to connect with others whom we may not have been able to otherwise, as they were from different geographical locations, and often we would have ‘after-parties’ where we would all get together after an event to unwind and spend more time with individuals who we had maybe even met during the day. I strongly feel this would not have been possible if at the end of the day everyone were to go back to their respective accommodations and that would have created a different vibe and environment for the congress as you would not have built those close bonds and friendships with other attendees by the end of the week.


    7.   What kind of volunteers is the UK Zoro Youth committee looking for? Also, with London being such an international hub especially for newcomers and international students how do you as an organization unearth these enthusiastic members and what opportunities are out there for them to serve the community?

    We were looking for dedicated and motivated individuals who would love to play an active role in helping to grow and bond with our youth community in London. Our YZ committee wishes to encourage the Zoroastrian Youth to network, organise and participate in a variety of events and activities, catering for mixed interests and collaborate with other like-minded individuals on a national level, ensure the YZ community is an inclusive space, and to encourage unity among the YZ community.

    With regards to the 8WZYC, we have several individuals on our committee who have had little involvement with the Zoroastrian youth community here in the UK and those who have never attended a congress before! London as you say is such an international hub and we have members of our team who did not grow up here however want to be actively involved in the community and get to socialise with other Zoroastrians. For the congress, we started our search by targeting our social media channels, mailing lists from the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (ZTFE), attendees of previous YZ events, and word-of- mouth. We were also very fortunate to be given the incredible opportunity by multiple global Zoroastrian publications to produce an article series that is released every few months focusing on the people behind the 8WZYC congress and our progress, while in turn reaching a global audience to attract more volunteers (check out www.8wzyc.com to read these). A lot of our volunteers are extremely excited at the thought of participating and helping to put their stamp on the congress as well as experience the more social side of being a Zoroastrian and to connect with like-minded individuals who want to serve the community. They wish to create those lasting friendships and bonds on the future of our religion, and we hope that this experience will be extremely fulfilling for them and of course for them to have fun in the process too!


    8.   Lastly, what message do you have for all our community members reading this on how and why they should get involved?

    It is NEVER too late to get involved in the community and we always welcome fresh new faces who are as passionate as us in making a positive difference by engaging and bringing the youth together. In a world of rapidly developing technology, it has become easier than ever to engage with the global community and there are so many initiatives and events that you can get involved in especially virtually. COVID has just proved that to us, that as community led activities and engagements were more prevalent than ever using webinars and virtual discussion forums. Even if it is just through attending an event, you are still making an effort with the community, and you could meet some wonderful people along the way! We are also always looking for individuals who want to help contribute to a successful 8WZYC so if this sounds like you, please feel free to get in touch at  8wzyc@ztfe.com or reach out directly!


    Thank you so much Sanaya, for your work and service.

    We are rooting for you and the entire 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress organizing team!



  • Tuesday, June 29, 2021 6:29 PM | ZSO Secretary (Administrator)
  • Friday, June 25, 2021 6:53 PM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)

    N A M C

    NAMC Institute of Zoroastrian Studies

     Presents an online summer certificate course:

    AN INTRODUCTION TO ZOROASTRIANISM

    Faith, History, Modernity and Connections with Major Religions

     Start Date: July 5, 2021

    On-line classes: Saturdays at 2 pm EDT starting July 10,2021

    Course Description:
    This course will provide the student with a brief introduction to Zoroastrianism, its doctrines, rituals, practices, and history, giving the student a window into Zoroastrianism and its influence on other succeeding faiths and raise appreciation of this ancient, relevant, and living faith in our modern society.

    Instructors:        

    Ervad Tehemton F. Mirza

    Kayomarsh P. Mehta

    Course Curriculum: https://namcmobeds.org/online-course-an-introduction-to-zoroastrianism/

    To Register, please email: vicepresident@namcmobeds.org

    For more information, please visit https://namcmobeds.org/
  • Tuesday, June 22, 2021 6:50 PM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)

    We are extremely honoured that Ervad Ramiyar Karanjia, Principal Dadar Athornan Institute and renowned Avestan scholar will start the meeting with a Ham-bandagi and give a short talk on “Timeless Zoroastrian Legacy”.

    CYRUS AND ZOROASTRIAN LEGACY TO WORLD DEMOCRACY, THE U.S. FOUNDING FATHERS, U.S INDEPENDENCE AND CONSTITUTION

    How “The Education of Cyrus,” Cyropaedia, and
    Zoroastrian (Avesta) ethics and morals influenced
    1. The Byzantine and Islamic rulers of Middle Ages
    2. The Enlightenment ERA
    3. French Democracy
    4. AMERICAN Founding Fathers
    5. American Constitution
    6. The American Declaration of independence
    7. Thomas Jefferson considered Cyrus as his Hero.
    8. In the opinion of. highly respected U. S.  attorneys: The U.S. Constitution influenced the Indian constitution
    9. How Wadia built ships helped Britain defeat Napoleon in Sea battles.
    10. How the U.S. National Anthem was inspired on Wadia built ship MINDEN


    Time: Jun 25, 2021 10:00 AM EST

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    Meeting ID: 825 0481 7036

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  • Wednesday, June 16, 2021 6:51 PM | Pedram Yazdani (Administrator)

    FEZANA reaches milestone fundraising goal of $1.1 Million (USD) in partnership with the University of Toronto, establishing first-ever FEZANA Professorship of Zoroastrian Languages and Literature at the University of Toronto

    Transformative and sustainable for future generations, the endowed professorship advances the academic study and understanding of Zoroastrianism and its contributions to the world

     
    Burr Ridge, Illinois, USA, June 16, 2021 – FEZANA, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, at its 34th Annual General Meeting announced it has reached its matching fundraising goal of $1.1 million (USD) in partnership with the University of Toronto, officially establishing the FEZANA Professorship of Zoroastrian Languages and Literature at the University of Toronto. This milestone achievement will transform and advance the study of Zoroastrian languages and literature in the Western hemisphere for future generations, and marks an historic moment for FEZANA, its member associations and small groups, and the hundreds of patrons who donated to turn concept into reality.
     
    A worldwide search for a candidate to fill the position shall begin in the summer/early fall, with the goal to have  a selected candidate in place to start their position at the University of Toronto in July 2022.
     
    “The establishment of the FEZANA Professorship at the University of Toronto creates an academic milestone for the Zoroastrian community in North America,” said FEZANA President Arzan Sam Wadia. “In our more than three decades of FEZANA’s existence, this has been the single largest capital project we have initiated, and its completion is deeply gratifying to the entire community. What is truly unique is the collective participation of individuals and institutions from around the world. FEZANA will forever remain grateful to every donor who helped realize this dream.”
     
    “This generous gift from the FEZANA community propels our Zoroastrian studies program as a leader on the global stage, greatly elevating its significance and contribution to the study of Zoroastrianism,” says Tim Harrison, chair of University of Toronto’s Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations (NMC), in which the professorship will be based. “This professorship will help us greatly increase the number of students able to read and understand the ancient languages of Avestan and Pahlavi, and advance research and publications on the translated texts and their context in history. Ultimately, it will help raise awareness of Zoroastrianism around the world.”
    The milestone project was initiated in 2019 by FEZANA under the leadership of Homi D. Gandhi, immediate past President of FEZANA.
     
    “It is important for faith-based organizations like FEZANA to invest in scholarship and educational opportunities for their communities and the world at large,” Gandhi said. “By fostering a greater understanding of the tenets that guide our lives, we can better understand other faiths who may believe differently, and in turn, achieve a global unity based on cooperation and understanding.”
     
    The concept of an endowed professorship was first presented in 2017 at FEZANA’s 30th Annual General Meeting, by Erv. Dr. Jehan Bagli who had met with University of Toronto representatives to broach the idea. Dr. Bagli worked closely with Gandhi, and both devoted energy and enthusiasm toward the fundraising effort. In total, more than 250 generous donors supported the cause, including Zoroastrian individuals, associations, institutions and foundations in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Europe and North America.
     
    FEZANA recognizes the following religious, academic and executive leaders for their behind-the-scenes leadership and guidance that helped advance the cause: Ervad Arda-e-viraf Minocherhomjee, President, North American Mobed Council; Behram Irani, FEZANA Fundraising Lead; Sean Elavia, FEZANA General Counsel; and Professor Yuhan S-D Vevaina, Bahari Associate Professor of Sasanian Studies at The University of Oxford.
     
    “The inestimable and multi-generational value of investing in religious and historical education is not simply a utilitarian concern, but a fundamental tenet of Zoroastrianism to be found in every stage of Zoroastrian literature, from the Avestan sacred texts to those written today in the global diasporas,” Oxford’s Prof. Vevaina commented. “FEZANA is to be truly congratulated for its profoundly forward-thinking commitment to the highest levels of academic scholarship on Zoroastrianism, and I genuinely hope this is the just beginning of many more endowed positions to come which will reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of Zoroastrians living and thriving across the breadth and depth of North America and beyond.”
     
    “The FEZANA Professorship in Zoroastrian Languages and Literature at the University of Toronto ensures a foundational religion, and its heritage will be studied in perpetuity,” said Prof. Jamsheed K. Choksy, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at the University of Indiana - Bloomington. “This is a much-needed undertaking of enduring value.”
     
    Zoroastrians are followers of one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions founded by the prophet Zarathushtra more than 3,000 years ago in ancient Iran. Zoroastrians have long served as bridge builders in interfaith dialogue, believing in truth, righteousness, charity, beneficence, respect and care for the environment, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
     
    Zoroastrianism flourished as the imperial religion of three Persian empires, those of the Achaemenians, Parthians and Sassanians, and was the dominant religion from Turkey and eastward to China during those times. North America’s Zoroastrian community includes those who arrived from the Indian subcontinent, known as Parsis, and those who came directly from Iran seeking religious freedom.
     
    About FEZANA
     
    Founded in 1987, the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America (FEZANA) represents a diverse and growing Zarathushti community in the western diaspora. Guided by the blessings of Ahura Mazda and the teachings of prophet Zarathushtra, the non-profit federation serves as the coordinating body for 27 Zoroastrian associations and 14 corresponding groups in Canada and the United States. The activities of FEZANA are conducted in a spirit of mutual respect, cooperation and unity among all member associations, and with due regard for the Zarathushti principles of goodness, truth, reason, benevolence, implicit trust and charity toward all mankind. Visit www.fezana.org and follow FEZANA on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @TheFEZANA.
     
     
    ###
     
    Media contact:
    Jim Engineer
    Chief Communications Officer
    FEZANA
    pr@fezana.org


     
    Download In PDF Format

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