Hershey Ansay was getting her car filled up with petrol at the Woqod station in Al Hilal last week when she discovered she had no cash to pay for it.
Seeing her distress, a man waiting in the queue behind her asked what had happened, and promptly gave her the money to pay the bill.
“His girlfriend, who was with him, just shrugged and said he does this all the time. Then he just left. I didn’t get the chance to thank him or to find out who he was,” Ansay recalled to Doha News.
Unable to pay the man back directly, the expat said she felt inspired to pay the good deed forward.
“I felt blessed to meet a random person with so much kindness. He was a complete stranger, but that day he was my guardian angel,” Ansay said.
Ansay explained her new initiative on the popular Facebook group When, Where, How in Doha.
The Australian-Filipina expat said that while she was at the supermarket this week, she decided to buy extra food to create snack packs to distribute to workers on construction sites around her home in Al Hilal.
“I bought extra fruit, water and packets of biscuits – practical things which might be useful but wouldn’t spoil in the heat,” she said.
She made 70 packages of water and food and loaded up her car with the items, then she went to collect her two daughters Katrin (6) and Zoe (4) from school.
“I thought – this is a good way to give back. And I wanted my girls to be involved. I am always telling them we should count our blessings and be kind to others less fortunate.”
Ansay drove around three building sites in Al Hilal and Al Mansoura to find out how many workers were there and tally how many bags would be needed.
She drove home twice to pick up more snack packs so she would have enough for everyone, she said.
“It was 2:30pm, and it was hot, so we just drove up to the site and gave over the bags out of the car window.
The men seemed happy, especially to have the bags from the girls. They are family men, they have their own children back home. They loved the fact that it was children involved – they patted the girls on the head. And the girls were so happy to do it,” she said.
Now, Ansay said she has decided to create a monthly “family tradition” of giving donations of food and basic toiletries to those in her community.
“These sites are just around the corner. I always say to people – just go into your neighborhood, you’ll be surprised at who needs help.”
Ansay, who has lived in the Gulf for six years, has taken part in similar initiatives in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
In Dubai, she was involved with a group called Mums Who Share, and donated food that would be made into meals and distributed to workers on nearby construction sites every Thursday.
And while in Abu Dhabi, she collaborated with a group of other expats to put together 1,000 care packages, with toiletries, socks, hats, lip balm and other small items.
“The wealth disparity in this region seems more pronounced. It is all around you – street workers, cleaners, people working in very harsh weather conditions.
“There is a lot of goodness here and it inspires you to do your bit to help others,” Ansay added.
As the month of Ramadan approaches and temperatures increase, many residents are feeling inspired to undertake charitable endeavors to help the less fortunate, although the activities of some take place year-round.
Last June, a grassroots group of women in Qatar launched a gift bag campaign to thank gas station attendants for their work, especially in the summer heat.
During Ramadan, the women and men traveled to every fuel station in Qatar handing out bags with toiletries and other essential items, as well as a card thanking the workers for their service.
Meanwhile, throughout the year, a group called Lot One Community Outreach donates snacks and drinks for construction workers in their area.