Earlier this year we launched a new and innovative idea to bring our supporters together. The idea centers around gourmet food, friendship and our desire to give and help. Ten chefs prepare food from various countries and bring their signature dishes to the event. The host only needs to provide space and create a pleasant ambiance. We invite 30-40 guests and suggest a $30 contribution of which 100% goes towards nourishing a child for the whole month. We have done six events so far, each with a different flair but the same unified purpose; how can we find unique ways of giving that creates a deeper personal connection to the cause.
What started out as one small idea, turned into six successful events so far, each uniquely special and memorable. We would like to thank all the following hosts who so graciously opened their hearts and homes to us:
1. Mai Vu for hosting our pilot event at her home in San Jose.
2. Humera Nawaz for hosting the second World Cuisine in San Ramon.
3. Khadija Harsolia for hosting the third World Cuisine in Irvine.
4. Arie Quick for hosting the fourth World Cuisine in Dublin.
5. Uroosa Jalal for hosting the fifth World Cuisine in San Ramon.
6. Mahira Razzak for hosting a Turkish Night for guests of the sixth World Cuisine in San Jose.
The following is a glimpse into how one guest felt after attending a World Cuisine event:
I cringe when I get an invitation to a fundraiser.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind donating for a worthy cause and I’m honestly grateful for the opportunity earn some ajr (reward)…no amount of ajr is too much. I realize that the invitee is actually doing the invited a favor. But there is nothing more painful than sitting at a fundraiser watching speaker after speaker begging people to give just a little bit more, telling everyone that dinner will be served or the main speaker will speak or the doors will be opened once the financial goals are met. The feeling of dread that threatens to smother me after being invited to a fundraiser has only come after years of feeling hostage and handicapped at one fancy gala after the other.
But I have heard different reports coming out of the Givelight gatherings that my girlfriends have been attending recently. They wax poetic about romantic, beautiful settings, a variety of delicious food, all sorts of creative themes, and fun opportunities where they get to dress to the nines. Despite many attempts on my part to attend one of these highly-praised shindigs, I have never managed to make it out to any of them.
That all changed this past July when I was finally able to attend a Givelight fundraiser titled “World Cuisines” in San Ramon. I paid my $31 cover charge and showed up at an elegant, spacious home where women were busy setting out all sorts of appetizers and entrees that I had never seen before. The placards gave me their names like “Mango and Corn Salad from the Dominican Republic” and “Fruit Salad with Spicy Tamarind Paste from Indonesia” and “Chicken Biryani from Pakistan”. I didn’t have to wait long before we were all gathered around the kitchen island, loading our plates up with a myriad of delectables.
Afterwards, we sat comfortably in the living room with our cups of tea and heard Dian tell her story about what inspired her to start Givelight. Unexpected tears filled my eyes as I watched her recall the devastation she felt upon hearing about her 40 relatives who tragically perished in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Having asked Allah (swt) to grant her a life filled with purpose and gratification, she found herself guided to the work she is doing today, running orphanages in six different countries around the world from Indonesia to Pakistan to Sri Lanka to Cambodia to Bangladesh to Morocco. Her eyes sparkled with pride as she described the clean and comfortable accommodations and the loving, nurturing natures of the “house parents” who take care of Givelight’s wards. I was mesmerized as I listened to her eloquent reflections about life and the purpose of being here and the legacies we all want to leave behind. It was like listening to a familiar, wise friend sharing age-old truths with us. By the time the short video about Givelight and the work they are doing was played on our host’s television set, I was already reaching for my checkbook.
And that was it. Once the video was over, we went back to chatting and eating and getting to know one another. Dian never asked us for a penny. No one counted up how many funds had been donated that evening. When my husband asked me later on in the night how the event had gone, instead of talking about the organization and their goals, I found myself telling him that I was treated with respect and honor and trust. It was as if Dian knew that the work she was doing spoke for itself and she didn’t need to twist anyone’s arm to be a part of it. It was as if she knew that if we had anything to give, we would. But the truth is that if any of us chose not to give anything that night, it was simply our own loss. We weren’t doing anyone but ourselves a favor by giving. The orphans didn’t need us. Dian didn’t need us. Allah didn’t need us.
The lesson I took from my first Givelight fundraiser experience was what I had heard a few years ago in the instructions of a beloved teacher: “Be avid for that which benefits you.”
Givelight doesn’t just benefit the world. It benefits our souls. And I — for one — am eager to gain some of that benefit.
– Hina Mukhtar
So who is ready to fill their home with blessings and light for our children? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.. Together, we can continue this wonderful tradition, enriching our lives by nourishing countless others.