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Kind cards.

Do you have the latest accessory, a 'smile' card? Find out about how a laminated piece of paper is inciting random acts of goodness throughout the city, writes Jane Plunkett The 7DAYS letters page is renowned for discussing the trials and tribulations of life in Dubai with much gusto.But yesterday's letters page didn't just grumble on about traffic, the recession, dodgy landlords or property agents; one letter stood out on the page, congratulating a complete stranger.

When 7DAYS reader Sacha Tanner ran out of petrol on a busy road, only to be further humiliated by continuous honking and screaming from the cars stuck behind him, a young man came to the rescue. He towed the defunct car off the road and travelled to a nearby petrol station to pick up some portable litres of fuel. And what did this man want in return? Nothing. It was simply a 'random act of kindness', writes Sacha in the letter. Such exemplary gestures of selflessness are exactly what a Dubai-based organisation called 'You' hopes will become more commonplace in society. In an effort to instigate this 'kindness revolution', the organisation has created colourful 'goodness cards'. You - a non-profit group - was set up in early 2007 with the idea of teaching young people to make a difference and make the most out of their lives.

Through workshops and other initiatives, it strives to teach children that to be part of a better world, we all need to take responsibility. Its most recent attempt at spreading kindness comes in the form of 'Smile' goodness cards that ask people to 'pay it forward'. In pink, orange and yellow, goodness cards have been printed and distributed to over 400 members at You, aged between eight and 20 years. The idea behind the cards is that if you do something considerate for someone, then you leave that person a goodness card. The new owner of the goodness card must then in turn pass it on by doing something nice for someone else. "The whole point of the organisation is to make a difference. And the goodness cards are a way to do that, by encouraging random act of kindness," says Psychologist Devika Singh, a volunteer at You.

"Whether it's children helping their parents, sharing their lunch, donating to charity or helping a friend; we want to encourage many worthwhile acts that promise to make someone else smile."Sharanya Narayan, seven, a young You member explains how she passed on her goodness card. "I had attended my school classes last week, but a friend didn't go to all of them," she says. "My friend was absent for three days. So she needed the notes, as there was a test. I brought my book and helped her write the notes. I felt really nice to help her." Although goodness cards were initially doled out among children, adults too have been showing an interest in passing on acts of kindness. And it's no surprise either, considering that research shows we achieve the most happiness from doing things for other people. "We set up the pay it forward idea for children, but adults like the idea too. Maybe not the smile goodness card so much, but the idea of doing something for someone else," says Devika. "I have been circulating these cards within my workplace and among adult friends and the response has been amazing." With many Dubai residents often being accused of being somewhat self-centered, maybe, despite age, we all need to learn to pay it forward a little. "I think it's a really sweet idea. I don't know how adults would accept it over here, as people tend to be quite business-minded. If a stranger gave you this card, some might think it odd," says Edith Roche, 27, who is keen to get her hands on some goodness cards. "It's nice to let people know you care, or make someone smile. We need people to be kinder to each other. "Everybody in this city goes about as if they are strangers; if these cards can create interaction between people, then it is a good thing."I can't imaging anyone would be heartless enough to throw it away. But even if they just kept it in their wallet, every time they looked in their wallet, it would make them smile."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 12, 2009
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