Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Spread a little happiness

One of the best ways to create a happier life for yourself is to make others happy, as Ghada Abdel-Kader explains

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liv1
Al-Ahram Weekly

Have you ever thought of making other people happy? Of easing their pain and sadness? Of making others laugh and smile, or of leaving a lovely memory for them? If so, you could be a member of the Gang of Joy.

The aim of the Gang of Joy is to make other people happy and put a lovely smile on their faces. “We have the energy and the will to make people happy. Even those whom we don’t know,” says Mohamed Taher, founder of the Gang of Joy.

Taher, who believes he can help people’s wishes come true, is a journalist who used to work at the Al-Shorouk daily newspaper. The idea of making people happy has been a dream of Taher’s for a very long time, though it was a dream that was different from the current shape of his Gang.

“I changed the idea because I found it difficult to apply in real life due to financial issues, but this could be a next step or supplement to the main idea in the future,” he explains.

“It started when I was on a microbus reading a novel. I noticed that a girl was sitting beside me reading my novel with me. I decided to give the book to her. So I wrote a few words on the cover, saying ‘I hope this may be a good memory from a stranger,’ and left the book on the seat as a gift before leaving the bus.

“I was afraid of a negative reaction, as we didn’t know each other. But to my surprise she smiled and took the book. I think she understood the message,” Taher recalls.

“I wrote about the incident on my Facebook page and made it clear how this girl, whom I didn’t know, had made me happy. I was astonished at the comments and reactions I received. People admired the idea and were very enthusiastic. This encouraged me to continue,” he adds.

Many people shared Taher’s post and expressed their wish to give someone a book or a bunch of flowers, or to give them a surprise on their birthday, wedding, or anniversary. Others said they would like to visit a patient in hospital.

“I shared my post and friend requests and the number of followers I had increased rapidly. Then I started to assemble my Gang,” Taher says. Today, there is a group on Facebook for “Gangsters” only.

“We usually engage in brainstorming to discuss ideas. First, we chose a suitable time for an ‘ambush’ and organise this with the person’s friends and family. Then, we collect some information about the target person from his family — what he likes and what his favourite things are,” he explains.

The Gang of Joy carries out both individual and collective ambushes. “In an individual ambush we hide in order to surprise a particular person. Everybody knows about it except the person we are ambushing,” Taher says.

People send them messages on their Facebook page if they want them to surprise their parents, friends or colleagues. A collective or folk ambush happens in a place that has been picked at random by the Gang.

“We meet five hours before the ambush to blow up around 2,000 balloons and prepare other stuff. Then we give out the balloons, along with candy floss, roses or sweets to passers-by,” Taher says.

The Gang began by distributing books, but now they distribute balloons, sweets and roses.

When Taher decides to carry out an ambush he will pick a friend who has shared or commented on a post on his Facebook page and made a wish. He might then contact one of his friends and arrange a surprise event to make the wish come true.

Taher and his Gang have visited many governorates in Egypt, including Alexandria, Luxor, Mansoura, Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra and Ismailia. The idea is to surprise people and to spread a little happiness.

The Gang of Joy is for everyone, he says. “Happiness is an inspiration that all human beings need in their lives. People need to be happy and ready to participate to make others happy.”

The Gang has organised around 50 events since it started last March. Fortunately, the Gangsters have not faced any negative reactions or embarrassing situations. Taher is the main source of finance, and he has spent some of his savings on the project.

When the Gang started to run out of money for its events, members started to collect money from each other.

“Since we started six months ago, we have not had any sponsors. It’s all done by self-finance, and this could put the whole idea at risk,” says Taher.

Taher and his Gang are now working on the legal procedures necessary to establish an NGO of the same name to solve the problem of sponsorship.

“We have a lot of other ideas, like making short documentary films that deliver a message of happiness and inspire people to carry out joyful ideas themselves. We want to organise camps and trips for people in the provinces. The Gang also intends to visit universities to spread its ideas among young people,” Taher concludes.

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