Sun, 07 February 2021
Bahrain This Month’s Farah Baig finds out how ‘A Box of Goodness’ has changed the lives of over 3000 individuals
Random acts of kindness, charitable giving and a generous heart have the power to change the world. There’s no doubt in our mind that every bit of effort goes a long way when it comes to making a change. Here’s where a visionary young Sri Lankan Malay, Miranthi ‘Miro’ Dole comes in. The young woman is the heart and soul behind ‘A Box of Goodness’ - a charitable initiative which has positively impacted the lives of over 3000 less fortunate individuals in the Kingdom of Bahrain over the last four years.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Miro moved to Bahrain in 2015 after a family visit gave her some insight into the Kingdom’s calm and grounded pace of life. “I was active within the Rotaract youth movement in Colombo and social service was always something I was interested in. I wanted to contribute to society in a positive manner and as such I began to think of how I can give back,” says Miro, who started A Box of Goodness in 2016.
“The charity started off small as a simple exercise to create the habit of giving, and has grown to enrich more lives over the years. We encouraged people to add one item to a box daily; at the end of a month, they had a box of goodness to donate to someone in need,” she explains.
The fundamental concept of the charity has been to inculcate the habit of sharing blessings with the less fortunate. “Our belief is that there are ample provisions in this world to go around for everyone - if we only shared,” she says.
The charity aims to enrich local communities, save the environment and reach out to the less fortunate through food drives and emergency relief efforts. “We actively work towards feeding the hungry with the support of our donors who always donate in kind. We aid both: locals and expat workers, without any discrimination. However, we aim to help the most deserving and seek out those who are the most in need of aid,” she says.
Families, individuals, blue collar workers and daily wage earners have all been supported through donations of dry food items, clothing, furniture and toiletries. “We also actively work with local imams in villages to support families with food, baby items, clothing and occasionally, during Gurgaon, toys for children on the streets,’ she says.
The charity’s annual projects include a Ramadan Food Drive and a Winter Appeal which are supported by local companies and schools. “Every year we organise a Ramadan Food Drive to aid Muslims observing the fast,” she says, adding that the charity has also assisted the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) in the past by providing food, clothing and toiletries for migrant workers.
“We also generated and shared extensive aid with the Asian workers whose building collapsed in Salmabad in October, 2018. We provided not only dry food items but also toiletries, linen, clothing and more for these workers to get back on their feet,” she explains, highlighting the charity’s response to emergency relief requests when staff accommodations are burnt down or when staff are unpaid for prolonged periods of time.
A Box of Goodness supports Al Sanabel Orphan Care Society too, often contributing furniture, clothing and toys to the families in addition to organising group birthday parties for the children. “We also aim to take care of the environment and organise beach cleanups regularly. The plastic we collect off the beaches are donated to the Bahrain Association for the Parents & Friends of the Disabled; who in turn use the funds from the sale of plastic to recycling plants to purchase wheelchairs for the disabled in Bahrain,’ she explains.
A RAY OF LIGHT DURING THE PANDEMIC
As COVID-19 hit Bahrain and businesses shut down, the charity began a food drive to collect dry food items for those affected. “Our main focus in 2020 was to help as many individuals and families whose livelihood has been compromised due to the global pandemic,” she says.
With shop and business closures, many were asked to take unpaid leave and/or have been made redundant. She explains that large numbers of daily wage earners no longer have work and are severely affected. “We have now exceeded our humble expectations and assisted over 1500 people with relief packs including dry food items, cloth masks, milk powder and diapers for infants, toiletries and sanitary products for ladies,” she says, adding that the Kingdom has also provided relief to its citizens and residents, easing the burden of many.
“Yet we continue in our efforts to help people with basic food items so that they have one less expense to worry about,” she adds.
As the charity is not registered, it is unable to assist people financially and instead provides aid in kind. “Despite sharing food and other essentials with people; there is a need for financial assistance. People who lost their jobs or who are on salary cuts, still need to pay school fees and rents to sustain themselves and their families,” she says, adding that while many want to continue to live here others have made the hard decision to return to their home countries.
The charity encourages donors to shop and support local businesses so the local economy is supported, and jobs and small businesses can stay afloat. “I myself have opted to shop from local brands, support new businesses and the local youth as opposed to buying from international brands. We have also assisted Shamsaha, previously Women›s Crisis International, with approximately sixty food packs, each sufficient for a family of four, for women in need who appealed to them during the pandemic,” she says.
The emergency relief project during COVID-19 provided much needed relief to people who lost their livelihood overnight. “The generosity of our donors encouraged us to extend the project further than we had ever anticipated,” she says.
“This was a time when people from all walks of life required our help and we were so blessed to be able to support them. The food we distributed not only fueled hunger but kept spirits alive during difficult times. This project provided relief to so many and we are so grateful to our donors for keeping the spirit of humanity and togetherness alive,” she concluded.