The Big Idea | October 2017

The Madinah Project



Name: Ivana Zajkovska

Occupation: Co-founder of The Madinah Project, educator, youth professional and community organizer

Hometown: Bitola, the Republic of Macedonia

Current Neighborhood: moved to Canton at 15 and currently lives in Peninsula.


Name: Amanda Lamadanie

Occupation: Co-founder of The Madinah Project, substitute teacher, receptionist and aspiring educator

Hometown: Hartville

Current Neighborhood: Hartville


Name: Mohsin Vora

Occupation: Anesthesiologist

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Current Neighborhood: Akron


What’s your big idea and when did it begin?

Our big idea is more like a big intention. It began as a phone call between two friends giving voice to our care and concern for our community, and it soon became what can only be described as life-long journey to bring the spirit of Prophet Muhammad’s community in Madinah to Akron, Ohio. We believe that when the heart is turned towards God to receive His love and light, then naturally overflows goodness onto others. Therefore, through The Madinah Project, we come together and connect—to God, each other, nature, ourselves and the world.


Why pursue it?

Community is a word full of meaning that extends beyond the place where we choose to live our lives. It signifies a sense of belonging to each other. Human beings are social creatures and the modern world encourages us to live in disengaged, independent, often fragmented ways. Despite all the technology that is connecting us and the ways that we seem together, people are lonely. We live in a crowded world tied into an intricate network of social links, yet our bonds, no matter how numerous, have been drained of warmth. Our relationships often feel mechanical, impersonal and superficial. Not only do we lose the connection that we have to each other, we lose track of who we are and our purpose.

Our efforts serve this important universal human need we did not see anyone addressing prior to the existence of The Madinah Project in Akron. We provide a place for people to gather and form friendships and long lasting bonds rooted in love. Therefore, through The Madinah Project we are truly hoping to diversify and enrich the connections we have with our neighbors.

When did you know your big idea was a good idea?

The overwhelming enthusiasm and participation from friends and community members definitely gave us momentum. Everyone felt the need to have a home where anyone can come, be accepted, and despite their flaws and insecurities have a chance to be receive love that inspires them to become the best versions of themselves. Also, our members felt empowered to start giving back to other communities they loved. For instance, for the past year we had a project of providing free meals in East Cleveland.

How do you hope your big idea helps Akron grow?

Anytime a group of people tries to intentionally spread peace, love and understanding there is growth. We are in the work of celebrating diversity in Akron and being part of civic life through volunteering, collaborating with other organizations and promoting dialogue and mutual respect. Akron is a vibrant place with people from all walks of life and we need more third spaces to bring people together. We hope that through seeking the spirit of Madinah in Akron in part by becoming aware of our interconnectedness and intentionally infusing those connections with love, our Akron community will be inspired to build a more loving world together and celebrate the big human family that we are.