Service by Georgia children’s class flows from purposeful connections
Kids plan a fundraiser for others in need, and community support rides a wave of relationship building
Lessons on virtues are being translated into acts of service by a children’s class in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that has raised funds for children in need in Brazil. Adults in the community rallied to support that fundraiser.
That community support is an outstanding result of a commitment that Baha’is in the area have kept since 2017: to visit with each other regularly, forming and strengthening their connections.
Some of those who benefited most were families that had arrived relatively recently from Iran, including Baha’is and their friends. These connections helped dissolve obstacles to participation that are typical of those faced by many immigrants, especially newcomers. And the movement has inspired dozens of other pledges for personal action as well.
One simple question
The seed for that fundraising project sprouted in a weekly Baha’i children’s class for ages 11 and under.
Behnaz Rouhani, a member of the Spiritual Assembly serving a Baha’i community in northern Gwinnett, says it started with a simple question posed by a teacher: “These virtues we are learning need to be put into practice. What if we adopt a service project? Do you all have any ideas?”
Consultation made it clear that the children wanted to help other children. After some time they agreed to hold a fundraiser benefiting children in the Amazon region of Brazil through the Mona Foundation, a U.S.-based educational charity founded on Baha’i principles.
“This decision got them working and they reported on their progress at every class session,” Rouhani says.
The initial idea was for the young people to offer their artworks or some belongings for sale.
A hands-on effort
“When mothers of these children learned about the project, they joined hands. They knitted hats, decorated pieces of wood, used socks to create little dolls, made key chains, and brought their own toys.
“They took ownership of this project and planned a memorable gathering. Children from another class were invited and it created a spirit of love and fellowship among children.”
A number of items were bought, then put back on the table to be sold again, Rouhani notes. Children promoted their own artworks “without any thought of the money going in their own pockets. What a lesson to learn at this young age!”
Altogether, $500 was raised. But Rouhani notes the benefits of this experience go well beyond an event’s particular goal.
“With this project the children’s class and the friends of the Faith were engaged in community building as well as promoting the social and material well-being of humanity,” she says.
“Such efforts that are motivated by the desire to serve mankind and contribute to constructive social change can also bring the community together as everyone rallies around a cause.”
This project came in the wake of a cascade of pledges for personal action, made at a Nov. 26 gathering of many of the families that had made new connections with each other in recent months. Individuals and couples stepped forward by the dozens to say they would host devotionals or discussions of Baha’i teachings, visit homes, or take part in study groups to build their capacity for those and other services.
Farhad Vojdani, who has a volunteer role in the development and encouragement of Baha’i communities in the region, credits the home visits both for the outpouring of service pledges and for clarifying people’s understanding of how they can work to advance Baha’u’llah’s vision for humanity.