Welcome to Week 44 of The 52 Week Love Project – Acts of Kindness. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
Meet Josephine – she has a special birthday tradition ‘Donating to Nine Strangers’- the phrase coined by her mother. Every year on her birthday, Josephine seeks out nine strangers to make a difference through giving.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
Growing up in Indonesia, I noticed the disparity gap ever since I was a young girl. You can easily spot homeless people and beggars on the street. Young to old, sick to healthy, any kind. I was lucky that I grew up in a middle-income family. Although I am the only child, I was taught not to be selfish.
Visits to orphanages to donate items such as books and clothes are common weekend activities for us. Similarly, my mother was, and still is actively participating in various charity events as well as volunteering her time in any possible way she could.
When I was around 12 years old, my mum read a book (which unfortunately she doesn’t remember the title of) about gratitude. The book says that on our birthday, the more we should be grateful because we are given another year of life. She then created a family tradition whereby during the month of our birthday, we have to donate something useful to nine strangers. I am not sure whether she came up with the idea herself, but the moment I heard it, I agreed to it without a single doubt.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Firstly, what do I mean by something useful? Let me illustrate this. In Indonesia, rice is our staple food yet it is quite expensive to feed a family of four or more. Thus, we chose to give out rice and canned biscuit to nine strangers.
Secondly, another tricky thing to do is the ‘strangers’ part. It has to be someone that you do not know, which means that sadly, giving to patrolling security guard in our area doesn’t count because we know him personally. However, this is not a real challenge. You can easily spot people such as road sweepers, homeless, beggars almost everywhere.
Why 9? Because it’s the largest numerical number. My family embraces the idea of ‘the more you give, the more you receive’. This might not necessarily be money, but could in terms of blessing, opportunity, or luck. Regardless of what we give and to whom- the feelings are always the same.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
My mother inspired me to continue the tradition. Even when I moved to Singapore and currently in Sydney, I make sure that I do this every year.
Moreover, by doing this, I learned more about the country. For example, while it is common in Indonesia to find homeless people, this is a rare sight in Singapore. While I commonly donate to road sweepers and beggars in Indonesia, I helped construction workers in Singapore.
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
I would say that I am a shy person. I find it difficult to start a conversation with strangers, let alone donating item(s) to them. When I started this, my family would always be by my side, helping me find someone, explained to them that it was my birthday and as part of the celebration, I would like to give them something. I watched and learned. Soon enough, I was brave to have a conversation and giving them the item.
Being alone in Sydney, I was quite reluctant doing it and almost resorted to online donations. Not that I have something against it, I prefer donating face-to-face. That’s a challenge for me. Furthermore, I have to consider the culture of giving in that particular country. People living in Singapore are more reluctant to receiving donation item from strangers. Being the first country that they are, it is uncommon to find someone donating items to other people. In Sydney, I find it easier to give money instead of object(s).
After sorting out the right location, person and item to give, it makes me feel better. Furthermore, I fight my self-doubt stage by stepping back and think about the reason why I do this. I want to make a difference in someone else’ life; I want them to feel appreciated and happy. That’s what keeps me going.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
Helpers high: feeling good by doing good. Doing a selfless act does have a benefit to both the recipient and the giver. Essentially, altruism isn’t entirely selfless. It makes you happier in a way that I can’t describe. It’s a different type of feeling happy from a salary raise, a new car or new laptop. You will feel genuinely satisfied that you make a difference in someone else’s life as well as grateful for what you have.
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
I always start and end my day with ‘minutes of gratefulness’. I take a short moment to take a step back and say thank you for everything that I’ve achieved and owned.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
I am a digital marketer and blogger. My next project would be having a chat with those who are the houseless and stellar individual’s that makes earth a better place through their actions. I share their stories on social media to create awareness about their presence.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
Donating to nine strangers might be a big step for those who are not used to doing charity. I encouraged everyone to try giving back to society, regardless of the amount you intended to give.
I am currently open to any opportunities for a not-for-profit organisation. I want to make a difference for people who are in need. You can contact me here: