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Strangers help break the cycle of poverty

Gulf News readers look for opportunities for the Muslims in Fushe Kosove community with the help of the international community in Dubai

  • With the help of Elizabeth Gowing and local NGO ‘The Ideas Partnership’, the Fusche Kosove community has creatImage Credit: Brett Seychell and Kimberley Kifun, Gulf News Readers
  • A small group of women sit withGulf News readers Brett Seychell (secondfrom left) and Kimberley Kifun (rigImage Credit: Brett Seychell and Kimberley Kifun, Gulf News Readers
  • Children from theimpoverished community of Fushe Kosovein KosovoImage Credit: Brett Seychell and Kimberley Kifun, Gulf News Readers
Gulf News

We left London in June 2011.

After travelling more than 9,500km on our bicycles through France, Italy, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Turkey and Iran, we currently find ourselves in Dubai. We have only about 20,000km remaining until we reach our final destination — Melbourne, Australia.

What was our cause? What was our motivation?

Just to prove a point to the world of charity. To prove that transparency and trust can exist. We could have raised funds for any of the big international charities. But they were so vague and mysterious when we wanted to know what they would do with it.

Why should we not be able to know where our money goes when we give it to charity? How far can blind faith really go? If our friends, family and kind strangers give us money for charitable causes, then we want to be confident that they get their money's worth and be sure that it is not used for other purposes.

The only way to do that was to officially register our own charity — hence, ‘The Kindness of Strangers' was created. With the development of The Kindness of Strangers, we have been able to microfinance three independent projects — two in Kosovo and one in Iran.

The projects we are helping set up are initiated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), where we have met both administrators and the victims.

We have been introduced to the causes and worked with the locals in each country to discover solutions to their problems with each of these projects.

Our first-hand photographs and videos tell all those who believe in us, exactly where their money has gone.

One project in Kosovo has been in aid of the poorest community I have ever seen, in Fushe Kosove, Pristina. But just giving them money is not the solution. It is all about giving them independence to help themselves, to help their own families, and to make their community self sustainable. That is why we helped finance a ‘Luxury Soap Making Initiative'.

With the help of Elizabeth Gowing and local NGO ‘The Ideas Partnership', this community has created a brand of luxury soap. ‘The Kindness of Strangers' has helped finance set up costs and materials and now it is time to take the next leap.

This experience has been priceless for us, and Dubai, in all its glory, offers us another opportunity.

Our objective in Dubai is to create opportunities for the Muslim Fushe Kosove community with the help of the international community in the city.

The assistance would not just save a few families, it could take the whole community out of its poor living conditions and into real homes with healthy food.

It could put their children in school and offer an end to the relentless cycle of poverty.

From here, we hope to find a boat to Sri Lanka to cycle up to India before we head through Southeast Asia.

Are you our next kind stranger?

If you, or anyone you know, can help with the Soap Project or would like to donate to our charity, please visit www.thekindnessofstrangers.net.

You can also follow us on twitter @kindcyclists or on our Facebook page.

Those looking to email us can contact us at smiling@thekindnessofstrangers.net

 

— By Brett Seychell and Kimberley Kifun, Gulf News Readers are founders of The Kindness of Strangers group.

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