I am constantly amazed and inspired by the amazing human beings that I cross paths with on a weekly basis, from the women I work with who are overcoming their fears to follow their dreams, to the people who are out quietly creating change and making an impact in their communities.
Sironaj Hindawi is one of those amazing human beings. Hindawi is the coordinator for faith-based spiritual empowerment classes for children and junior youth that teach children to discover the nobility of themselves and the people around them while recognizing the value of their everyday good decisions, speech, and actions.
Hindawi stops by today to share more about her inspiring mission of how we can use our energy and talents to help one another and serve our community as a whole.
JB: What inspired you to coordinate and deliver spiritual empowerment classes for the children and youth in your community?
SH: As a Baha'i I believe that we are all human family. What happens in the west affects what happens in the east. What happens in my backyard affects what happens in my city. The great people in history started somewhere in their circle of friends and acquaintances. If I claim that I love the human race, then I have to serve the needs of this race. I saw a need for involving the children and junior youth in constructive activities that build up their character and their self-image of who they are. I have worked as a counselor for children and I always long to take the counseling approach to their homes and make a difference in their day-to-day life. But I found that by reaching out to these wonderful children, I am reaching out to their families as well and I have seen transformation happen to everyone involved in this project, including the teachers and myself. It became an opportunity to see how a few can make a difference.
JB: The classes are led by volunteer teachers. The volunteers even go door-to-door to collect the children and walk them home after classes. Their level of commitment to the children is amazing. Did you find it easy to find volunteers to give their time?
SH: It was difficult to find those volunteers; however, when it happens, their commitment is unquestionable. Prayer has been my number one power that I rely on to find those amazing individuals and an ongoing invitation to everyone I meet.
JB: Some of the topics the classes focus on are kindness, patience, perseverance, and service. Why did you decide to include these as part of your lesson plan?
SH: It is the virtues that make us human. We use these qualities every day in school, work, in the market and everywhere; however, we are afraid to connect them to our reality and our essence. When we learn these qualities we experience our humanity and relate better to one another with love, unity and care.
JB: Although the classes are faith-based, they are open to everyone. The teachings are based on the Bahá'í religion, with the premise that we are all one humanity and what one does affects the other. This is a great lesson for us all to think about. How has this teaching inspired the kids?
SH: The children started to see themselves as one family, as the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean. They offered service to one another and in some cases even fought to offer the service. *smile* They also saw that they mean a great deal to all of us and we truly love them. It was a mutual love and respect, which affected the families and their school as well. It brought transformation to the better and a sense of valuing self in the group and outside the group.
JB: What obstacles have you faced while trying to grow your program?
SH: The biggest challenge was to continue having volunteers and training them to be willing to work in a chaotic environment, and use continuous encouragement even when situations become difficult. Also, preparing the lessons for the classes, having the material that children use and snacks and the ongoing fundraising for the program. The weather was a big factor also for us to stop the classes because we had to work in backyards of homes of the children, which caused a few volunteers to get sick when it got really cold.
JB: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting something similar in their community?
SH: Trust God that even when there are many challenges, He is there to help make you succeed. Also, when you feel that this kind of project is not giving the fruits you are hoping for, know for sure that you have planted a seed in the heart of that child or junior youth that will grow to make him or her value himself or herself down the road and discover their nobility. We sometimes don't see the effect of love on people who are surrounding us, but for sure we can see it on ourselves because I know I became a better human being working in this project than I was before the project. Be a beam of light and love to your fellow human beings, and the rest will work its magic.