I had the pleasure of having dinner with two fantastic individuals the other week. Yasin and Waheeda Rahim run educational camps for young Muslim communities, focusing on developing virtues, service, understanding of the self and a sense of purpose. Not only is the work they do amazing, but the entire manner in which they interact with people is something truly inspirational.
One topic we discussed early on was how they train their staff and the young people they work with. A theme that they cover is whether you treat those around you as objects or as humans. What they mean by this is whether you are simply using them to gain something you need, take their presence or actions for granted or only interact with them on a very superficial level. A key question they ask is whether you can remember the name of the person who served you in a café or restaurant – often we overlook the role these people play and we need to bring the humanity back to these interactions.
We talked over dinner and I was struck by the way they so readily and comfortably connected with others. In their stories about how they came to work in youth education they told me of times where they met neighbours, friends and even strangers who they sensed were in need. Their approach was one of wanting to help and wanting to serve, asking questions like ‘How can I help you? Would you be willing to spend some time with me looking at …? And what can we give to you?’ These were often followed by simple acts of kindness; a discussion, knowledge exchange or favour, but which made a big difference to the people they met.
During our meal we were served by a young waiter. They saw that it said ‘trainee’ on his T-Shirt and they asked him how long his training period was. He replied that he had about a month left to go, all being well. They then asked him ‘What can we do to help you succeed in your training period?’ – much to the confusion of the young waiter who probably does not receive many comments like this. After a short thought he fetched a feedback form for them to fill out about the service we received.
It was fascinating to be part of. In my own line of work I like to belief that I am driven by a sense of helping others. But perhaps this is focussed within my training, networking, family and friendship groups. What I saw, and what moved me was the way Waheeda and Yasin so comfortably conversed with strangers and so quickly found a way to help them flourish in whatever they were doing. It was definitely a nudge for me to apply my sense of service to wider context and a reminder that if we can all learn to connect across society then we will even closer to a more harmonious and loving world.
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