Houses of worship are important to any community. They build communities’ spirits and spirituality which makes their buildings hallowed halls, and hence, the human psyche and people’s need for immortality made their construction a sought after enterprise. This might also explain the quantity of these halls in almost all societies. In Bahrain for instance, even though it is a small geographic area, I would not be surprised if I learnt that there are hundreds of mosques and ma’atems. I suspect that it probably ranks very high in the ratio of actual worshipers to places of worship. Still, I have absolutely no problem with having them, if people want to build them for whatever motives – hidden or otherwise – then all power to them. At least they keep the construction industry busy!
There are other venues for charity though which should be encouraged, especially those which create sustainable opportunities for the lower income sector of the society; those, unfortunately are not given much attention, or if they are, then that attention in most cases is just transitory.
I believe that the best way to offer a helping hand to anyone is to ensure that help not only provide transitory relief, but sustainable windows of opportunities to the person or community. I believe the best way of ensuring this is to provide the person with education, be that academic or vocational, in order for that person to get and hold a job to better themselves and their family’s lot.
Fortunately for us here in Bahrain, although income taxation does not exist, people and families with money have always contributed in this stream, building houses, hospitals, clinics, university classes or buildings and even sponsoring university chairs and of course students. These are extremely worthy cases which should be recognised and encouraged. I just wonder had those people who chose to build religious buildings put their money in these kind of pursuits, how many families they might have saved and rescued from poverty or unemployment too?
I am especially heartened, then, to learn today that one of the leading investment banks in Bahrain, Ithmar, in cooperation with the newly rebranded Royal Charity Organisation is offering comprehensive educational sponsorships to Bahraini orphans. Six orphans every year are to be sponsored to attend private schools in Bahrain – which offer a much better educational standard than government schools – from 2nd through to 12th grades as well as ten orphans to be sponsored to attend university for undergraduate studies.
Just imagine the impact such a program will have on the students, their families and their community in the future. Especially when you consider the refusal of the bank to base its selection of students on anything but academic achievements. Imagine the transformation of the orphans’ future; one that goes probably from rather bleak for most of these orphaned kids through to that which might very probably be bright and full of promise.
Thank you Ithmar and RCO for thinking out of the box and providing these opportunities for our fellow citizens who by your actions now will have something to look forward to.
I hope that this action will provide the impetus for other banks and business families to follow suit. Maybe, they can learn a little from what the Al-A’ali foundation have done over the last few years in their own undergraduate sponsorship programs. They have certainly been the pioneer of selflessly opening the windows of opportunities to their fellow Bahrainis, as I am sure that other families surreptitiously do too.
It is things like these that make me a very proud Bahraini. It is things like these that engenders patriotism.