Introducing the new Chairman of The World Zoroastrian Organisation – Rumi Sethna

WZO lost two stalL11warts Shahpurji, the founder of WZO and Sammy Bhiwandiwalla who was the Chairman of WZO in a span of one month in December 2020.

Rumi Sethna has kindly agreed to steer The World Zoroastrian Organisation and has been elected as the Chairman of WZO on the 7th February 2021.

Rumi along with his wife Hilda raised over £15000 for the extension of the ZTFE premises in London in the early 80s. Rumi and Hilda joined WZO in 1986 and turned their own home into its Headquarters from where the Gujerat farmers project operated after 1990. They travelled to India filming the condition of rural Parsis in order to raise awareness worldwide.

With perseverance and commitment for over 20 years they have raised more than £200000 for the farmers of Gujerat and their fundraising work continues.

Hilda and Rumi have hosted many Gala Dinner Dances in aid of the charitable activities of WZO.

Rumi addressed the WZO Committee Members after being elected as the Chairman and we are happy to share Rumi’s Speech with all our members and well-wishers worldwide:

“I was deeply shocked to hear the news on 1st December 2020 that my friend and fellow worker Shahpur had passed away. We had known each other since 1961 and then a further shock came on 27 th December 2020 that Sammy had passed away. Sammy joined the committee in 1988 and soon took an active role. He succeeded me as a Chairman in 2004 when I resigned. Both these gentlemen gave their heart and soul to our Organisation. I would like to take this opportunity in thanking them for the work and effort they gave to build this organisation.

I am humbled that people on this present committee have proposed me to be Chairman of WZO. Some of the committee members I have not even met or spoken to. I have taken a back seat since my resignation as a Chairman in September 2004. I have had occasional chats with Shahpur, Sammy and Darayus when they had wanted to sound out some problems.

WZO is very dear to me. I have been very involved on the committee since my election in 1986. I had served as a secretary, treasurer, president and for the final 4 years as a chairman.

During my time as a president under Shahpur and later as a chairman I travelled to Pakistan, India, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to promote WZO and the work we were doing. When we started work in Gujerat my wife and I went to the villages taking videos of the work that was being done and the poverty that our brethren were living in. When these videos were shown abroad the money started flowing in from overseas and today The WZO trust in India is self-funding and carrying out all the activities to alleviate the poverty among our people. My trips to New Zealand, Australia and the USA were to ask the Anjuman’s to unite and join us in order that we spoke with one voice in the United Nations and other bodies.

I asked the secretary Benafsha to forward to me a list of the committee members and am very impressed by the skills that we have amongst us. I am certainly going to make full use of all your abilities and would like to nominate duties to each person on the committee. There is no point in warming a seat and not committing yourself. There are many areas to be covered such as rentals, social events, seminars, promoting WZO internationally and negotiating with international bodies.

Between 2001 and 2003 Farhang Mehr, Professor Kaikhosrov Irani, Adi Davar, Rustam Dubash and myself tried to get local anjumans to become members of the WZO but some of the groups rejected the idea – for whatever reason. WZO is not only for charitable purpose. It was originally formed for political reasons. It helped people in Iran to be repatriated to the West during the revolution in Iran.

We then became a charitable organisation which created the Medical Benevolent fund instigated by our beloved Noshirwan Cowasjee, the Gujarat fund which raised the standards of our community in India, holiday fund for the poor instigated by Shirinbanoo Kutar.

With the support of you all I hope that we can take this further to be a globally recognised organisation and maybe get recognised by United Nations. I would dearly like all associations to join us so that we can speak with one voice and help our community where ever they are in the world.”