Sweet initiative. Brendon Dolan and Nicola Dolan hand over a box of cupcakes to Saira Choudry. Image Credit: A.K. Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: A British expat woman from Manchester has launched a unique initiative in Dubai to foster a spirit of community in the wake of the recent terror attack in her hometown.

Over 20 people died when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a pop concert in Manchester, UK, on May 22.

Salman Abedi — a young Muslim born to Libyan-born refugees — has been named as the prime suspect.

Hate crimes

As hate crimes against Muslims in Manchester register an alarming increase, Nicola Dolan, 48, is bonding with Muslims in Dubai by baking cupcakes for them. “Terrorism has no religion so it’s wrong to associate it with a particular community,” she said.

Dolan said the idea of baking cakes and distributing them struck her when she came across Facebook posts expressing concerns over rising incidents of hate crimes against Muslims.

“One of the posts was by a Muslim woman who feared for the safety of her children. I found it very troubling so I decided to reach out to Muslims and express solidarity with them,” said Dolan who subsequently launched the ‘Bake down Barriers’ initiative

Pay it Forward concept

Modelled after the Pay It Forward concept, the inititiave encourages beneficiaries of a good deed to repay it to others.

“I want to counteract the evil by a random act of kindness so I would like to offer homemade cupcakes — just frehsly baked,” she said in a Facebook post, now shared by hundreds.

Dolan said she offered the first box of six homemade cupcakes to a Muslim family to express solidarity with them. “I hope it will inspire people to do random acts of kindness to others.

Overwhelming response

Till now she has distributed 72 cupcakes among 12 families.

British Muslim Saira Choudry, also from Manchester, who was among the first to receive the cupcakes said: “When I read Dolan’s post offering cupcakes I was touched as I was not only born and brought in Manchester but also graduated from its university.”

Saira she paid Dolan’s good deed forward by preparing food for gardeners in her neighbourhood and giving Chemistry lessons to a friend’s daughter

Another British Muslim Tanzilah Dadabhoy, 35, said: “It is upsetting to read about all the negativity in the world today. When I came across Nicola’s post last week, I saw her heartfelt gesture and thought the pay it forward idea to be simply brilliant. If we can brighten someone’s life every day, the world will be a great place to live.”

Elaine Hardman, 48, whose friend’s son died at the Manchester Arena said Nicola’s initiative brought a smile to her face.

“We were all heart-broken at home when we heard of Martyn’s death. I put up a post in one of the Facebook groups about it. Out of the blue I got a message from Nicola saying she wanted to bring me a box of cupcakes. I was truly overwhelmed. The cakes were yummy to say the least. I will pay it forward to a friend for whom I want to do something special.”

True blessing

Another Australian expat Kristy Cribb who is pregnant with her second child said she was grateful to receive Nicola’s cupcakes. “Being 38 weeks pregnant I was having a craving for sugar, Nicola’s cakes were a true blessing.

Nicola’s husband Brendon is proud of his wife. “It makes you realise that there are so many nice people who care and want to do something for the community. All it needs is a trigger and someone to initiate it.”