Giving Back to Society

Under the banner of Project Rise, the Bahrain community has undertaken several welfare and development projects for the benefit of society.

This article was reported in Gulf Daily News on April 24, 2023

Every year, the Dawoodi Bohra community takes part in the group’s global initiative, Project Rise, aimed at uplifting and elevating the less fortunate.

The Dawoodi Bohras, a religious denomination within the Ismaili branch of Islam, work in partnership with governments and NGOs to support vulnerable members of society while protecting and enhancing the natural environment in the hope of giving back to the kingdom they call home.

“We have called Bahrain home since the 1850s and the community has expanded over the generations,” said Jameat al Bohra al Islamiyah public relations director Abbas Zakiyuddin, adding “And like Bohras all over the world, we strive to play productive roles in the society in which we live.”

Some of the causes backed by Project Rise include eliminating hunger and encouraging  healthy eating, as well as improving healthcare, providing clean water and sanitation for all, access to education, trash clear-ups and plastic reduction.

“We regularly support local food banks, undertake awareness campaigns and participate in cleanups to preserve the natural environment and proactively contribute to the social causes of the kingdom,” added Mr Zakiyuddin.

Last year, they collaborated with the Lions Club of Riffa to plant different types of trees in Salmaniya Garden including moringa trees, neem trees and bougainvillaea plants.

“This beautification initiative is part of our community’s sustained ‘Clean Our Neighbourhood’ campaign,” said Project Rise’s Bahrain coordinator Nisrin Kothambawala.

“The campaign also falls in line with the National Initiative for Agriculture Development’s (NIAD) ‘Forever Green’ campaign, which seeks to mobilise citizens to expand the country’s green coverage and contribute to the fight against climate change.”

Other acts of kindness under this project include meet-and-greet programmes with autistic or children with special needs as well as being environmentally conscious and encouraging the preservation of natural resources amongst the younger generations through drawing, video-making and storytelling competitions.

“We also conduct awareness seminars and workshops to fight against plastic pollution by encouraging the policy of reduce, reuse and recycle,” added Ms Kothambawala.

“We also donate and distribute food amongst the skilled workers, charity institutions and hospitals, participate in cancer awareness talks and walks and offer free healthcare check-ups and awareness lectures with educational programmes on health, fitness, environment, business and so on.”

The giving group has a community kitchen to provide wholesome food within the community, as well as to those in need. They have formed the Dana committee to curb food wastage within the community and have partnered with a local organisation to work towards eliminating food wastage called My Clean Plate.

These activities and causes also fall in line with the Bohras’ core values and principles such as having a genuine love for the country they live in.

“Bahrain is the first country in the Middle East where Bohras settled and then in 1875, started setting up business,” said Ms Kothambawala.

“We were mostly traders by profession who had emigrated from India in search of business opportunities.

“After more than 50 years, we have expanded our businesses all over the Gulf and members of the community have been very active in the set-up of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce. 

“Today, our approximately 1,000-member community has set up industries and developed trade with successful forays into diverse businesses. “Many are also professionals in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance, teaching and hotel management.”

According to their website, in recognition of their contribution to Bahraini society, Bahrain has granted citizenship to around 100 community members. Mohammed Dadabhai, a respected member of the local community, was also appointed as a member of the Shura Council by His Majesty King Hamad, while Batool Dadabhai currently serves as a board member in Bahrain Chamber. In 1914, the then ruler of Bahrain, Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, gifted a piece of land in Manama to the Bohra community to build a masjid

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