We should learn from our surrounding, especially its positive vibes and lessons. We may become the better version of ourselves by challenging our values to what others are believing and committing. Salim, our columnist, tries his best to observe any good lessons he may obtain from his environment, not only when he was studying in Brisbane, but also now that he has returned to Jakarta. Let’s welcome more kindness to our lives by checking out this well-written article!
I am always impressed by people who are always motivated to help those in need. They do such good deeds sincerely. They just want to do good for others and do not expect any rewards. They organize their charity work either individually or within a group, sometimes anonymously and not many people know. They allocate part of their valuable time, energy, and money to get involved in various volunteering or charity projects. I am so grateful that my circles of friendship show me clearly that there are many people striving to do good for the greater good of others.
Good deeds I saw in Brisbane
When I lived in Brisbane to pursue my Master’s degree, I knew fellow Indonesian students who launched a project called “Buku untuk Anak Bangsa”. They received donations, either from Australians or Indonesians living in Australia, in the form of children books to be distributed to Indonesian schools or entities in need. The team received hundreds of books each year. Together they sorted the books, and then packed and shipped them to Indonesia. I knew they were very happy to get involved in that project. Some of them were even still very young in their undergraduate years.
In other occasions, I met other kind-hearted people who always thought how they could do something meaningful and help others. I visited secondhand book fairs in Southbank, Brisbane, where I could find good-quality secondhand books sold in very low prices. I found the staff of the book fairs was dominated by elderly. Despite their senior age, they enthusiastically executed their jobs: sorting books, arranging books on the tables or bookshelves, or serving the customers in the cashier counters.
When I took part in the activities of the Muslim Students Association of the University of Queensland (MSA-UQ), I knew a number of fellow Muslim students who voluntarily ran the organization and executed its programs. Sometimes I attended a weekly Islamic class held by MSA. There I found that the Muslim cleric who taught the class was an alumnus of an Islamic university in the Middle East, yet he attended a Bachelor’s program at UQ to study dentistry. The class participants absorbed a lot of valuable Islamic knowledge from him, thus strengthening their faith in living their daily lives Down Under.
“The best network is Indonesian students’ network,” a UQ student service staff member told me in a ‘Getting Started’ session before I commenced my first semester at the St Lucia campus. I proved that he was right even since my very first days in Brisbane. I witnessed through my eyes how Indonesians—old and young; students and permanent residents—did their best for the good of their communities or organizations.
They worked together to ensure the success of community events. They planned the event, donated, arranged the venue, prepared food, and served the participants; all with clear enthusiasm. They devoted their resources for the sake of community. I felt so blessed to get involved in various activities of our vibrant community. When we heard the sad news about a devastating natural disasters in Indonesia, there were always people who initiated a donation campaign to help people in the affected areas back home.
I also found that the members of our community like to help each other. They offered helping hands in the best way they could. We welcomed new Indonesian students by meeting them at the arrival hall of Brisbane Airport, providing them with information on temporary and permanent accommodations, and supported them to get settled in during their first weeks in the Queensland capital city.
I notice a lot of kindness in home country too
Similar to my experiences in Australia, my circles of friendship in Indonesia brought me to amazing stories how people could be so motivated to help others. A friend of mine flew to Aceh to volunteer only a few days after the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami struck the westernmost province in December 2004. He witnessed himself the enormous casualties and destruction caused by the shocking disaster; and joined teams assigned to remove dead bodies, clean up debris, help the survivors, and so forth.
I also have several friends who actively become mentors for college students, providing the youngsters with company and directions to make the most of their golden years. Such a complex job to nurture young people is to be done voluntarily. They play their roles passionately, expecting neither rewards nor recognition. They felt proud and satisfied when their mentees could achieve personal growth and overcome challenges.
I have two former students who did a great job only a few years after completing their undergraduate degree. They gave up their positions as government employees. They decided to leave so that they could focus on businesses they founded. However, their decision was not merely motivated by their desire to get higher income or to seek more challenging professional environment. They would like to continuously expand their businesses, hence they could provide more job opportunities for Indonesian youth. Furthermore, they also allocated part of their profits to fund their charity projects.
I also knew people who never forget to donate. “Salim, I am so grateful to work for my current employer, thank God…” a colleague of mine once told me. I knew his income was much higher than that in his previous workplace. “I feel like I now have more opportunities to help people. Previously, I might think twice before deciding to help. And now, I can be of help more and more…”
These good people triggered a self-contemplation
My interactions with good-hearted people in various occasions have indeed inspired me a lot. I believe people could achieve a higher level of happiness when they give more and help more. When you are doing good deeds, there is a good feeling in you. You feel that you could do something important and beneficial. You are not among those who only think about their own happiness and joy. You care, and that’s what motivates you to take actions.
I then reflect on what I have done so far. It seems that, mostly, what I could do to help people in need and support good causes was through small monetary donations (I am not among those crazy rich philanthropists, of course!). I have spent even less time and energy to do good and help those in need. I might have a series of reasons: I am still busy at work, I still have other commitments to fulfill, and so forth.
I have a dream that, in the near future, I would be able to devote more and more resources—time, energy, and money—to do something good and help others. For the greater good in my life. For the greater good in others’ lives.
Photo source: Shutterstock