Thursday, May 16, 2013

Operation Hope Kuwait Founder Sheryll Mairza Wins GCC Most Inspiring Woman Award

Sheryll Mairza

“God created women with a unique spirit of passion. Passion wielded wisely will harvest great thing God created women with a unique spirit of passion. Passion wielded wisely will harvest great things. Never, ever underestimate the power of passion ~ Sheryll Mairza, Founder, Operation HOPE – Kuwait ~ A Mission of Mercy (Since 2005)

Open Your Eyes

I was out shopping one day, irritated at not being able to find what I was looking (and well aware of my ugly attitude) when my eyes fell upon a pair of sockless feet in a pair of much-worn shoes, which were clearly two sizes too large for their owner. I looked up and what I saw broke my heart. The janitor wore a short-sleeved cotton work jumper, as strikingly threadbare as he was thin. His gauntness left no doubt that he was malnourished, but more startling than this, his eyes. They were devoid of any feeling, windows to his internal brokenness. I had never seen such brokenness in all my life and was immediately overcome by grief. Now ashamed of my ugly determination, rude glares, and sense of entitlement, I fled in tears.

Back in the warmth of our home, I shared my experience with my husband, Husain, who agreed that we could return to the mall to give that man warm clothing and food, and measure his feet for a pair of decent boots. It did not take long to locate him and complete our mission of mercy, yet the mans brokenness would haunt me.

Share the Vision

One year later, as I was busy preparing for Christmas, a heaviness came over me. It was so profound that I stopped planning that day. The next day, I met with the same experience. And the day after that. After three days, I was convinced, by the very real sense of foreboding that prevailed, that someone in my family might be close to dying. Fearfully, I prayed and begged God not to take anyone in my family, asking Him to show me why I felt such foreboding. Immediately, I saw the gaunt, broken-spirited janitor from the furniture mall. Tears flowed again, as they had when I stood face to face with him, and shame washed over me once more.

I resolved to forgo our annual holiday event to serve others in my community instead. Upon this realization, a peace began to replace the anxiety, sadness, and grief. I sent an email to those who usually attended our Open House, explaining that we would serve Kuwait’s neediest population on Christmas Eve instead of having our usual festivities, inviting them to join us. Before nightfall, my inbox was deluged with offers of physical and financial help for the endeavor, greatly encouraging me. Within three weeks, approximately 1,150 male and female laborers working in Kuwait were each outfitted with brand new, rain-resistant coats, hats, gloves, and thick socks. Families, students, and business men joined hands to purchase, pack, and hand-deliver Winter Warmth to each worker, meeting them at their work sites as they boarded their buses at the end of their shift. Operation HOPE – Kuwait had begun.

Seeing Is Believing

The years following our inaugural year witnessed the outreach of OH-Kuwait grow to include tangible support such as toiletries, blankets, bedrolls, and foodstuff to embassy shelters; visits to farmhands in need of shoes, blankets, and food at Kuwait’s borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia; visits to local jails to deliver blankets and toiletries for detainees; to being the soil for start-up outreaches such as Trash to Treasure and Broken to Beautiful, which offer training for shelter wards in embassies to learn new skills in order to become self sufficient upon repatriation. Both of these visionary outreaches are now autonomous, having been launched with the support they needed from OH – Kuwait.

Operation HOPE – Kuwait, realizes the importance and value of community service and has developed a program for local students called Schools in Action for HOPE, which encourages students involvement through organizing and participating in collection drives for non-perishable foods, clothing, blankets, and shoes. Students, under the direction of their teachers and administrations, often learn to appreciate what they have been blessed with and begin to contemplate their civic responsibilities with new-found hearts of gratitude.

OH-Kuwait also partners with other local outreach programs by providing clothing and toiletries when needed to women and babies in the Illegal Pregnancy Ward as well as men and women at Kuwaits deportation centers.

During the first six years of serving Kuwait’s neediest, OH-Kuwait has been humbly based in a tent located in my family’s yard but with the recent blessing of my Kuwaiti father-in-law, we built HOPE House, complete with adequate storage for all donations received, an area for volunteers to sort and label all bins holding our donations, as well as a bathroom facility for our volunteers to access when necessary. While these may seem basic necessities for any organization to operate, we have managed to serve more than 26,000 needy men, women, and children out of our tent to date.

Most recently, Esthers Attic, a re-sale initiative, has taken root. As donations are sorted, volunteers identify high-end items which can be used more efficiently through funds raised by their resale to the community. Monies earned through Esters Attic, located within the newly-built HOPE House, will be channeled into the ongoing initiatives of Operation HOPE – Kuwait.

Seeing Clearly—the Purpose and the Passion 

The acronym HOPE stands for Helping Others Practically & Every Day, without discrimination or disrespect to Christian or Islamic brothers and sisters. Today, our missions goals are simple:

Help individuals on a case-by-case basis as needs arise;

Offer opportunities for families of the local and expatriate community to serve together;

Provide at least 5,000 needy workers with winter warmth each year;

Equip embassy shelters with clothing, blankets, and other basic necessities.

My grandmother and my mother are my own personal philanthropic mentors. Both of these women immigrated to the USA from Germany in 1949, and always extended their hand to others in need, in any way they could, despite their own financial struggles and the prejudices they faced when starting life in their new country. Being reared by such phenomenal women most certainly influenced me to develop into who I am today. I am thankful to the women in my family, who, unlike me, experienced difficulty and sometimes poverty, and yet persevered with a positive attitude to impact their immediate spheres of influence. Following their examples is what drives me to persevere in Kuwait when I am feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, or even useless.

To learn more about Operation HOPE – Kuwait's mission of mercy, please visit our website [also created by a woman]: or email us a

LWDLIK - You are an angel dear Sheryll, thank you for restoring my faith in mankind.


  1. AnonymousMay 16, 2013

    Sheryl is a saint. I planned on volunteering there until someone warned me about that horrible other lady that volunteers there. She keeps a lot of people away with her nasty attitude.

    1. AnonymousJune 09, 2013

      Dear Anonymous,
      Your candid thoughts are most appreciated. I would agree with LWDLIK's reply (May 16, 2013) that your impression of the volunteer could be mistaken (I've been guilty of this more times than I would like to admit). Please DO consider giving of your time and God-given talents to make a difference if the lives of countless people. I hope to meet you in the near future ... and thank you for your kind (if not somewhat exaggerated) opinion of me. God bless, Sheryll Mairza

  2. Please don't let that stop you not everybody we meet do we instantly gel with or like. Have you never had the wrong first impression of someone? I know I have. And this cause is so very worthy.

  3. They are doing great work for ladies..Sheryll Mairza truly deserve to Win GCC Most Inspiring Woman Award.

  4. AnonymousJune 09, 2013

    Dear Kim,
    Many thanks for ALL the support which you've lent (culinary and otherwise!). The truth is ... All that has been accomplished is evidence of a power much greater than that of mankind, and a strength greater than my own; and all that is yet to be will is the outpouring of His faithfulness towards mankind. We are all just sojourners in this life, and as we live it out my hope is that we'll remember this: we came into this world with nothing... and we'll leave it with nothing. We've been blessed not for personal gain, rather that we may pass the blessing on.

    Many thanks again for your continued support, Kim and readers...!
    Blessings and gratitude,
    Sheryll Mairza


Always great to hear from you :O)