Even one person with a water bottle can make a difference.
That’s the sentiment expressed by Shahbaz Shaikh, a 25-year-old engineering supervisor in Qatar who enjoys handing out free water to passersby during the searing summer months.
Shaikh began his charitable effort a few months ago, telling Doha News that he noticed the area near his home in Al Wukair had few obvious rest stops.
So he picked out a spot near Ezdan Village 30, where he now regularly stands with 30 to 40 bottles of water, handing them out to drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
He said he heads out in the afternoon, and doesn’t go back in until he has given away the last of the bottles.
During these hours-long excursions, Shaikh holds up signs with educational and inspiring messages, many of them signaling his devotion to Islam.
Some of the message include “Love Allah,” “Allahu Akbar,” and “Keep Calm and Follow Muhammad.”
“I’m not so much perfect in my Islam. I’m just trying to follow the steps of my prophet,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh is one of many people in Qatar who have recently been recognized for trying to give back to the community in their own small way.
Earlier this week, expats Mohammed Hussain and Javahar Abdul Samad were praised for letting hungry people short on cash eat for free at their restaurant in the Industrial Area.
Like those business owners, Shaikh was motivated to act based on experiences in his home country of India.
There, he used to buy and distribute rice packets to the poor.
The sense of community he felt from those trips inspired him to start up a similar effort here in Qatar, he told Doha News.
The engineer also credits his mom as a source of inspiration, and recently held up a sign saying heaven is under mothers’ feet.
“My mom used to tell me to always do good deeds,” he explained.
Claim to fame
Since being featured in an article in the Peninsula late last month, Shaikh has attracted attention from well-wishers across Qatar.
He said several people have offered donations to help his cause, including one person who tried to give him as much as 1,000 QR, but he has consistently turned them down.
The young man added that the only people he feels comfortable accepting money from are his roommates. In fact, two of his roommates, Mohamed Tariq Qalam and Fauzan Khanzada recently joined him on one of his trips for the first time.
When friends and family in India learned of Shaikh’s efforts, they were surprised to see the change in him.
He described himself as “mischievous” before he left home, adding that he feels he has become more considerate of others’ since coming to Qatar nine months ago.
“I just like to do it,” he added.