Ever since I was very young, I had this strong feeling that we were getting a lot wrong with life (I think most of us realized this as kids, but perhaps forgot along the way). I looked at people and I saw goodness, I knew there was a way of life where we could all win. I haven’t found it yet and it’s perhaps the journey of many lifetimes, but I still absolutely believe that it is possible to live in a world where everyone wins.
When I was in University of Bangalore, I volunteered with an organisation called ‘Centre for Social Action’, where I taught kids in a slum. This place and this opportunity completely transformed my life. I finally experienced what it was like to be in service of another human being, and how our efforts can really make a difference to the life of another being. I knew it then, that being in service of mankind was going to be the story of my life.
When I moved back to Dubai in 2013, a dear friend Sonia and I started what is now called ‘The Goodwill Tribe’. We were both deeply disturbed by the disconnection we were witnessing in the world – disconnection from the self, from others and from the planet. We really wanted to do something to inspire more connection, more compassion and more love in the world. And so we started to host small events in our local community that were based on these values. The journey from then on has been pure magic and The Goodwill Tribe has grown itself beautiful and powerful wings and reached 12 cities in India and around the world (London, Sydney, Dubai, Kuwait City, Munich, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Nagpur, Goa, Chennai, Jaipur). In each of these cities, we have a group of 2 or more volunteers (in Nagpur, it’s a team of more than 30!) who have taken on the responsibility to host monthly events around the values of connection, compassion and kindness. ‘Chapter heads’ tailors their own events to express their passion and suit the rhythm of their city. We’ve found that people take an inspiring ownership of The Goodwill Tribe. We’ve collectively designed over 10 different creative and fun kindness events/projects and have together hosted more than 100 events across all the chapters. Here are the three of our most popular events:
We receive letter requests from individuals for their friends, family, colleagues going through a tough time. And we get together at monthly events to hand write letters of love and support to these people. The bundles of letters are sent to the recipients anonymously through snail mail. Imagine receiving a bundle of handwritten letters of love from strangers from all around the world.
‘What are you grateful for?’ There is power and positivity in paying attention to this question. We create a space at local flea markets to inspire the attitude of gratitude through conversations and practices.
Kindness Confetti is about spreading smiles through random acts of kindness. We show up at busy junctions with boards that read cheerful messages, we give high fives, surprise people with flowers, post sticky notes with positive messages, anything to make people smile!
The intention behind these events is to give the community an experience of compassion. It’s a chance for them to connect and interact with each other in new and compassionate ways, making possible kinder ways of being with each other. We believe that every act of compassion and kindness creates a ripple that is impossible to measure, gently opening hearts along the way. And we hope that everyone who comes to an event leaves having experienced at least a moment where they felt moved. The question we often ask is, what would the world look like if we were all a little more compassionate
These events have created a network of change makers, who are pumped and proactive to light up this world with love and compassion. But equally (if not more) important, are the intangible elements of impact – the countless smiles created, the beautiful conversations between strangers, the powerful stories of human connection, the warm, inclusive and supportive community that all of us now feel a part of. It’s been a beautiful, powerful, organic journey, one that still has a long way to go!
Personally, the last four and half years of volunteering with ‘The Goodwill Tribe’ have truly transformed my life. It’s my channel to be true to myself, to live with the values I honor the most. It’s taught me to trust life and trust the flow. I’ve also had the gift of experiencing the best in people, and witnessing how kindness can open people up and create subtle but powerful shifts within them. It’s showed me the possibility of communities that are connected through rich values – these kind of connections allow us to thrive and express our full potential, yet remain humble and strongly connected. I’m so excited by all the possibilities of new love-filled ways of being! Right now the question that I’m working on is – how can I go beyond a project? How can my whole life be a true expression of what I believe? How can every moment be an opportunity to act centered in love? It’s going to be a fun ride ahead!
Chandni| Co-founder The Goodwill Tribe