Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness

It started in Dubai on holiday. I was staying with my family at an opulent hotel, overwhelmed by the contrast of the very rich and the people who serve them, who flood into this place in order to work and send money home to support their families in Pakistan, India, the Philippines… Talking to many of them – taxi drivers, waitresses, hotel staff – and hearing from all of them the story of their children and families at home being dependant on the money they sent back. The price of that was that most of them only went home and saw their loved ones every two years.

I talked to a waitress who had three children in the Philippines who were being looked after by her mother. I asked her how she could bear being separated from her small children for so long and she very simply replied “I have to put food on the table”. And, she said, she was very lucky to have a computer so she could talk to her children every week on skype. Such a contrast as I sat there with my daughters and six small grandchildren eating a meal that could have supported her family for a week.

The next day my daughter, Shana, and I chatted to a young woman who was giving us a pedicure. She also had children at home being cared for by her mother. I asked her if she spoke to them on skype and she replied that right now she didn’t but she was saving up to buy a computer so that she could – her eyes lit up at the possibility it would give her. Shana and I were so touched by her and when we met up with Michael later we told him about her. He immediately said “Well, let’s buy her a computer!”

It temporarily went out of our minds and then a couple of days later Michael came back from a shopping trip with a brand new computer and the special attachment needed to get skype…. He handed it to Shana and me to take down to the beauty salon. We insisted he come with us and he agreed but said the present should come from us not him. We found the young woman and presented her with the computer, explaining about the skype attachment and Michael sat in a chair and watched. This woman was completely overwhelmed and she hugged us both first one and then the other and then the other again, with tears streaming down her face which was illuminated with gratitude and joy. We were all hugging and crying together in the end with very full hearts. What a privilege it was to give. I can feel the tears again now as I remember that moment. And for that lovely woman an unforgetable one. Michael sat quietly watching, very much a part of it.

It was after this that Michael conceived of a campaign he would like to launch called Random Acts of Kindness. He thought it might start in a very simple way by just giving to people on the street, with, for instance, lots of people in London offering to put change in parking metres, quite randomly but also suggesting the person might be able to find a way to pass on a gift of some kind to other people that day. The aim being, very simply, to experience giving and receiving and the joy and smiles that it brings. He would like to launch the day with press, TV, and radio publicity. Michael is an entrepreneur – it will happen.

I just want to add another act of giving which happened to a very dear friend of mine, Barbara, who I had told about Randon Acts of Kindness. She texted me the next day to tell me she had been in the car park at IKEA trying to load some very heavy wood she had bought into the back of her car. A man on a bicycle stopped and in sign language, it became clear he was deaf and dumb, offered to help her load the car. When they had finished they looked at each other and she signed her gratitude and then, with a wave, he got back on his bike and went on his way – she watched him go with tears in her eyes. A perfect moment.

Anyone reading this who would like to suggest or to be involved in this campaign, or who has something to share of their own such experience, please write to me as it will all be a contribution to this energy of giving and receiving and the thankfulness both of those two things bring.


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