The Goodwill Tribe started three years ago with a few friends, tons of gifts and a table at the Dubai Flea Market. We had been passionately talking about fun things we could do to break out of the feeling of disconnection that often exists in a big city. We found out about the market and thought why not surprise everyone coming there with a gift. So we raided our homes and not surprisingly found lots of things that could be gifted to other people. We got together a week before and ribboned, wrapped and wrote happy messages to go with the gifts.
The day arrived and we were nervous. We weren’t sure how people would respond to our intention; would they get why we were there or would they see it as some kind of freebie table? People often associate giving to charity and we were wary of that perception. Giving to us can mean anything from sharing a smile, a warm hug, a listening ear, a heartfelt compliment, a kind note, a gift, to anyone, no matter who they are.
We arrived at the market in our ‘Being Human’ T-shirts with positive messages, brought lots of colourful decor and our popular gratitude board. The first few people walked by our stall and magic started to happen. People would find something they like and ask us what it was priced at and we’d say, ‘Nothing, it’s a gift to you.’ To which they’d respond with bafflement, ‘Why?’, and we’d smile and say ‘Just because we want you to smile and know that you are amazing!’. And the wonderful thing is they got it, they understood!
There was a lovely nurse who wrapped one of us in a big hug and shared that she had chosen her profession because of a desire to serve other people and be kind. She was heart warmed to see people choosing to do this ‘just because’ and hoped for more goodness like this in the world. There was a man who didn’t understand a word of English but somehow we managed to communicate to him that everything on the table was a gift. When he got it, we burst into joyful laughter together. There was another man who picked a few gifts to surprise his wife with. He pointed her out and we delivered them to her and experienced her absolute glee. He came back, gave my hand a gentle squeeze and thanked me, smiling with his eyes and his heart.
Everyone seemed to light up when they understood our intention. We were amazed by the conversations people stopped to have and humbled by their desire to join us in our mission to spread joy. The smiles, spontaneous hugs, conversations and laughter opened up a part of our hearts and left us with this inexplicable feeling of fullness. It felt as though everyone was seeking deeper connections and a space to be kind. We knew then that we had to keep this going.
‘The Gift of Giving’ remains one of our favourite projects and we are super excited to be putting up our fourth stall on October 21st at the Dubai Flea Market in Jumeirah Lake Towers. Check out our event to know more about our kindness plans for the day and to see how you can help out.
The Goodwill Tribe designs events and projects for people to experience the beauty of human connection through small acts of kindness. We now have local chapters in six cities – Dubai, London, Sydney, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune. Every month we host an event in each of the cities. Watch our event space to find out about events in your city.