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Aila Malik just turned 40. Instead of a traditional party to usher in the new decade, she decided to do something different. She threw a Community Kindness virtual party. She “invited” her guests to complete an act of kindness (big or small) and post it on social media.  

Aila was overwhelmed by the response. The participation and impact from this one party resulted in nearly $10,000 (and growing) raised towards non-profits and families in need. The acts of kindness include neighborly help for stalled vehicles or injured cyclists, and sharing  joy anonymously by secretly paying in advance for people’s coffee or dinner, among other good deeds.  

Anybody who knows Aila Malik will smile because this is who she is – a Bay Area native and nonprofit leader who views the beauty of sharing kind acts as “an excuse for people to spread kindness and inspire others on social media, while allowing me to ‘see’ and honor our relationship in an authentic way,” Malik comments. 

An after-school girls’ tutoring program in Refugee Camp Aida, West Bank, Palestine

Aila, her husband and three children just returned  from an incredible, year-long trip around the world,  that was over a decade in the planning. They immersed themselves in every community they visited and learned about the human crises of the planet – climate change, trash, water, poverty, political conflict, and blight. You can read about their experiences at https://www.franklinstreetglobetrotters.org/.  

The Silicon Valley may be  the envy of the world with its staggering wealth and economic growth, but income inequality affects many here as well, as residents struggle to find and afford housing, childcare, transportation, health care and education. 

Aila is convinced that “the only way to reverse these tragedies is to create a culture of connection and kindness” here at home and around the world.

Living with indigenous San people in Xai Xai, Botswana (Kalahri Desert)

As 2019 draws to a close and we take stock of our personal lives,  Aila Malik’s ‘acts of kindness’ should inspire us to increase both our random and conscious good deeds  in the world around us. As we buy gifts for our loved ones and dress up for fun parties, lets also add deliberate connections to the wider community to our list. Find creative ways to redefine gift giving by donating time and money generously in the New Year!

Aila says “From whatever lens you look at our current world – climate, politics, homelessness, suicide, etc, our world is in great despair. We  need to use opportunities to build human-kindness and connection with one another so that we can create and restore cultures of group-think, and group-action.” 

Here is a list of non-profits and community organizations that many in our community support and you can too. We should give back because it teaches us to find compassion within ourselves while making a difference in the lives of others. Ultimately, it makes us happier and healthier too.  

https://www.magnifycommunity.com/ A database of bay area nonprofits vetted and approved by respected Silicon Valley foundations. 

Second Harvest Food Bank https://www.shfb.org/

Touch a Soul https://www.touch-a-soul.org/

Kiva Kiva.org

Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA https://phs-spca.org/

Citizen Science https://www.citizenscience.gov/#

Indian Cultural Center http://www.indiacc.org/

Maitri https://maitri.org/

Narika https://www.narika.org/

American India Foundation https://aif.org/

South Asian Heart Center https://southasianheartcenter.org/

Community Seva https://communityseva.org/

I-MAK https://www.i-mak.org/

Slum Dwellers International SDINET.ORG 

Akshaya Patra https://www.akshayapatra.org/

Pratham ‎www.prathamusa.org/education/future

Home of Hope https://hohinc.org/

Asha for education https://ashanet.org/

India Literacy Project https://www.ilpnet.org/

Vibha http://www.vibha.org/

Shankara Eye Foundation https://www.giftofvision.org/

Please reach out to us and tell us about your favorite organization that you support. Let’s keep this Community Kindness Party going all year. 

Anjana Nagarajan-Butaney is a Bay Area resident with experience in educational non-profits, community building, networking and content development and was Community Director for an online platform. She is interested in how to strengthen communities by building connections to politics, science & technology, gender equality and public education.

This article was edited by contributing editor Meera Kymal.

image credits: Aila Malik
lead image: With a Sudanese refugee at the the Baqa’a refugee camp north of Amman, Jordan, home to around 100,000 Palestinian refugees.

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