Monday, October 15, 2012

HBB: Good People, Good Coffee, Doing Good

It has been a long time since I've updated anything about my NGO, Hospitals Beyond Boundaries (HBB) in this blog. Perhaps there are too many things to be updated about that I wish I could just direct all of you to our official website at www.hbb.org.my and read all about our projects and events. But despite having an official website, I still prefer writing things in a blog. It feels more personal, where I can share my thoughts freely.
Our website
5 months down the line after the official recognition of HBB as an NGO, we are finally getting things up and kicking. From 6 members as mentioned in my previous post (link), we have recruited 7 more members, making us a group of 13. We now have our own website, our own email domain (feel free to send an email to lutfi@hbb.org.my!), official name card and an official launching of the Cambodia project in UIA. We still don’t have our own office, and if you notice the address on the website is actually the address of my own house! Yes, we do meetings there, but we also do it everywhere. Last one we did it in one of the Coffee Planet chains, the previous meeting was at a Library in Shah Alam, and before that was at a café by the lake. I guess that’s the advantage of having organization made up of a bunch of young people. We are very flexible. I could call up for a meeting anytime, anywhere, and we will make each one a fun experience. These are a few of the great meetings I ever had, and for the first time in my life, I actually look forward to upcoming meetings. There were a lot of fun and laughter in our meetings, but when it was time to discuss important things, we get serious. Then we get something to eat, have lunch, dinner, whatever, and have fun again. The spark of creativity is so alive. We amended our constitution at a café over Caramel Cappuccinos and Red Velvet cakes. How laid back could that be? The best thing about all of this is that despite being all laid back, we know that we are doing something purposeful, something that might actually bring change to other people’s lives, far beyond the boundaries of our own country.
It takes caffeine for our creative spark. Lots of them!
I am just glad that I have found this group of people who has the same passion as I do. We came from different backgrounds and different field of study: medicine, accountancy, law, business and finance, and to be honest more than half of the people I recruited were merely strangers just 5 months back. I guess passion works like a magnet that brings us together despite our differences. Although being young gives us an advantage, it also gives mixed response from people about what we are doing. As more people get to know about our NGO, people start to ask questions. Like are we really going to build up a hospital? Do we have enough credibility and experience? The most reflective was from my research supervisor, who has a pHD in Public Health, who told me that setting up this kind of non-profit, non-governmental organization is definitely not an easy task. He knows, because he himself has been involved in many NGOs. But honestly, he said, it is great work, what we are doing. He did not do such things because his experience in NGOs showed how difficult it is to set up an NGO. We didn’t know. But we set up one anyway. I think that’s the beauty of not knowing. By not knowing the difficulties, we went on ahead, became a bit unreasonable and did it anyway. Yeah, sometimes not knowing can be good.
Meetings
But what definitely good is the feeling that we are doing something worthwhile. I guess everybody tries to squeeze in a few worthwhile things during the period between birth and death. The thing is we do not know how long this period will be since no one knows when their time will be up. I already felt like dying a year ago. Having a traumatic accident with damaged cochlear nerves and leaking out brain fluids that could risk brain infection already put me into a state of hopelessness. I lost my balance literally, unable to walk straight. I lost half of my hearing in the left ear and still have ringing in my ears right until this moment. Praise be to the Almighty, I survived. I could have just died of brain infection if it weren’t for the antibiotics running down my veins for 2 whole weeks. So if dying could come at any given moment, why not do something worthwhile at any given moment as well?
Post meeting
The beginning is always the hardest. While we are young and healthy, without many commitments to take care of children or family, it is the best time to be in the hardest part. If I were to wait until I have enough experience, I think I would not even start anything at all! With a family to take care of, office politics to think about, workload and all, I doubt I would take the leap to start a new NGO. For me the timing is perfect, and hopefully everything will unfold perfectly. Starting young allows you to start with the spirit of a beginner, unsure of everything, but confident enough to go on. In the words of the late Steve Jobs: Stay hungry, stay foolish. If we were to make a lot of mistakes during these young periods, well that is actually good. Because people learn from mistakes, and it seems a good idea to make all the possible mistakes when we are young, learn from it, and start doing everything right when we’re older ;)

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