Abla Kadous from Islamic Women’s Welfare Association (IWWA) has been voted by the community as the Westfield Local Hero for Burwood for 2020.

Other two winners are Jenny Smith from the Raise Foundation and Marcel De Maria from Gift of Bread.

These inspiring local leaders were nominated and voted for by the community and will now be awarded a $10,000 grant for each of their affiliated organisations to help their important work to grow.

Westfield Local Heroes is a community recognition and grants program, connecting and enriching local communities. Launched in 2018, the program spans our 42 trade areas across Australia and New Zealand. In 2020, we are awarding $1.26 million to 126 local organisations.

Abla Tohamy Kadous  overcame financial restraints and other challenges to create the Islamic Women’s Welfare Association (IWWA).

She leads 50 other volunteers and staff and is active in the activities of the thriving organisation she founded 17 years ago.

“IWWA has over 1500 members from 56 nationalities and their welfare has always been my focus,” says Abla, who started volunteering 35 years ago.

The association helps Islamic women feel welcome and participate in their communities. It offers anti-discrimination forums, school-readiness programs, youth camps, cooking classes and events for elderly people.

Abla Kadous

Abla has also bridged the gap with other religions and organised inter-faith forums in Western Sydney.

One of her most impressive achievements was raising money to buy a state-of-the-art function centre after years of sewing, cooking and sourcing things to sell.

One of the association’s most important projects is the provision of food and other essentials to people in need, and people queue at the centre for parcels.

“I have seen the need for food packages grow exponentially,” Abla says.

Last year, Abla was named NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year. In 2017 she received the Muslim Lifetime Achievement Award for over 25 years of service to the Muslim Community.

In February 2021 nominations for the 2021 Westfield Local Heroes program will be opened.