Why this woman is on an annual mission to instil kindness among M’sians

AFTER Puteri N. Balqis’s spirits dropped to an all-time low in August 2021, she resolved to do something about it to make herself happy once more.

In an effort to bring a smile to others and hopefully smile herself in the process, she started the Kind Box project, where random Malaysians signed up to exchange gifts anonymously a la Secret Santa style.

The project was a successful one, seeing 300 individuals getting on board and many taking to Twitter on Aug 31 (unexpectedly coinciding with Merdeka day) to share their gift exchange experiences.

After popular demand, the popular Twitter user – who goes by the @puteriarchy handle – brought back the project this year.

This year’s project, however, received fewer sign-ups than last year (only 160).

But as it met its objective of making Puteri and others happy, one can consider the Kind Box project nothing short of a triumph.

(Photo credit: Twitter user @whymustchxkk)

In a recent interview with FocusM, Puteri, 27, said she did not plan to start the project in conjunction with Merdeka last year.

“It so happened that I hit rock bottom around that time and I wanted to do something that makes people, and eventually myself, happy,” she said.

The public relations and communications specialist added that she had no plans to bring back the project this year.

“However, someone that is very dear to my sister was leaving the country for good soon and one of his last requests was to experience the #KindBoxProject. I was just honouring his request; an act of love if you ask me.

“Also, many people were asking for the project, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

“A one-woman show”

Managing the project all on her own must have been tough – she single-handedly set up and managed the collation of Google Form entries, designed posters to advertise the project, sent customised emails to everyone and sorted out any issues that cropped up.

“Ideally, it would have been great to have a small team, but I was super occupied,” she explained. “I didn’t even have the time to assemble a team; I roll as I go.”

Commenting on this year’s project, Puteri lamented that the participation rate dropped by 50% compared to last year (even as this year saw about 50% of new participants taking part in the project).

“(This year’s) reception was in a humbler setting than last year’s but I think that’s probably because we were confined in our homes around this time last year and life is slowly getting back to normal now,” she noted.

Even so, Puteri was still moved with the gift-giving exchanges this year – which she recommended to be publicised on Twitter – with one, in particular, catching her eye.

User @whymustchxkk had shared how she was feeling demotivated all August, and on her very last day at her workplace, she got her kind box, filled with books, chocolates and a personal letter from her gifter.

“My request from my pen-pal mate was something handmade,” she wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t mind the price, but little did he know that his letter was the most precious thing I ever got.”

It’s the same message that Puteri wishes to pass on to those struggling during these unprecedented times: be kind, always.

“As corny as it gets, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Trials and tribulations are parts and parcels of life, and an act of kindness can definitely uplift each other’s spirits.

“I know this: I kickstarted the project when I hit rock bottom, and seeing people having so much fun warms me,” she said.

As to whether the Kind Box project will make another comeback next year, Puteri, who previously complained about “half-assed” gift boxes and partners being “ghosted”, said: “We’ll see how it goes”. – Sept 16, 2022

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