Jarekakhook.com founders on charity giving in the community
Time Out Bahrain staff
We caught up with one of the founders of Bahrain’s own online giving site jarekakhook.com to find out what it’s all about. Like many good Samaritans, she’s asked to stay anonymous.
What is Jarek Akhook? The literal translation of the name Jarek Akhook is ‘your neighbour is your brother’. The name is based on the underlying values of caring and brotherhood that are so important in our culture and society. Our organisation aims to preserve these values so that they remain embedded in the Bahraini community.
The organisation is dedicated to improving the lives of less privileged Bahraini families by linking the high- and mid-income community to low-income Bahraini families through an online website that allows people to donate essential household furniture and/or appliances towards families in need.
Through our online portal, users are able to view photographs of the living conditions of select low-income Bahraini families. The user can then choose the family which they would like to help as well as the item(s) they want to contribute. As such, the website provides the Bahraini community with a transparent and convenient way to help their less privileged neighbours. Transparency is a core element of our organisation. We want donors to be able to see where their money is going.
How long has it been running? The team started in March 2013 with two pilot projects. We wanted to test the idea before expanding it to take on more families. Fortunately, the first two projects were a great success - all the items were donated within four days following the launch of the website. We have since delivered the items to the two families and, as a result, they are now much more comfortable in their homes.
Towards the end of 2013, we began to plan the second round of projects which included an additional five Bahraini families. The profiles and needs of the five families were posted on our website during the last week of January 2014 and all the items (amounting to a total of approximately BD9,000) were donated within six days.
How many volunteers are now involved and who are they? The founders are a group of eight young Bahraini ladies, between the ages of 25 and 35, with diverse professional backgrounds. The number of volunteers has since grown to around 25 people.
Volunteers join on a part-time basis and take part in one round of Jarek Akook. Each volunteer is grouped with a team and tasked with one family.
Once the process is complete, the volunteer chooses whether or not to remain involved with the organisation.
How many families have been helped so far and how? Seven families so far. On average, each family has received household donations worth approximately BD2,000. The way it works is as follows:
Each Jarek Akhook team consists of five volunteers and is assigned one family. The process begins with the team visiting the family’s home to assess their needs. The house is inspected carefully. Each team is given a tour of the house during which the family informs Jarek Akhook of the basic necessities that are needed within each room, including the kitchen and bathrooms. Pictures are taken to capture the household conditions.
Following the family visit, each Jarek Akhook team is required to search the market for merchandise items that suit the needs of the family. Each team is given a budget to ensure that the items selected are within a reasonable cost range.
The next step is uploading all the pictures and information relating to the families on our website. Again, the idea is to maintain transparency so that donors are able to see where their money is going. The website provides a description of each family and lists their needs. Donors are able to select the family they would like to help and the items which they wish to donate.
The final step is delivering all the donations to the families. Once everything is delivered, the Jarek Akhook volunteers pay a final visit to the families to take photographs of the new items (furniture and appliances). These images are then uploaded onto our website in order to allow donors to view the final outcome.
How many people in Bahrain are donating, is it something that’s going well and catching the public imagination? Since we are still at an early stage, the number of donors is quite small. So far there have been approximately 30 donors in total. However the average amount donated per donor is substantial.
Since inception, we have raised approximately BD 11,000 and used 100 percent of the proceeds to purchase basic furniture and appliances for the families we helped.
How do you find the families you help and how are they chosen from so many? In the past, we have used our personal network and connected with select charity organisations to identify families in need. In the future, as Jarek Akhook grows to tackle a larger number of families, we will try to diversify our source of beneficiaries in order to contribute to a wider range of neighbourhoods.
We are also in the process of forming a screening committee. The committee will be tasked with pre-screening all the homes that we come across. The selection of families will be made based on stringent criteria to ensure that we consistently select the neediest families.
Will you be expanding to help further families? Yes. Following the success of rounds one and two, we are in the process of planning our short- and long-term strategy. The aim is to make Jarek Akhook a sustainable non-profit organisation. We hope to expand successfully and we hope to continue receiving encouragement and support from the wider Bahraini community. Our ultimate objective is to maximise our reach and to help the largest number of families possible across a wide range of neighbourhoods.