Australian Baha'i Sites

From humble beginnings to one of Australia’s fastest growing charities – the story of Serving Our People 

It was during the Covid lockdowns some four years ago that Gold Coast resident Yas Matbouly decided he wanted to do something to help those who were isolated and unable to access essential items. 

Inspired by his study of the Ruhi Institute and the Baha’i-inspired Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Science (FUNDAEC), Yas, who had become a member of the Baha’i community a few years earlier, rallied a group of like-minded individuals together via WhatsApp and started helping those in need. 

Fast forward to today, and this humble initiative has become one of Australia’s fastest growing charity organisations with over 4000 volunteers. Titled Serving Our People, the organisation aims to serve the people of Australia in whatever capacity required, be they families, the elderly, displaced or disadvantaged individuals and communities, carers, disaster victims or people living with a disability. 

Serving Our People team members.

Growing by about 150 volunteers each month, it has raised more than $9 million in funding to date, opened three free supermarkets – with plans to open another six – and is delivering more than one million meals and other essential items per year to people in need. 

Operating throughout much of South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, the charity even uses planes to deliver to more remote locations. A branch of the organisation called the Serving Our People Empowerment Program is also collaborating with police to mentor and counsel troubled youth.  

The charity now makes use of planes to deliver to more remote locations.

Since launching, the charity has become a full-time occupation for Yas, who previously worked in property development. He works with around 170 individuals to coordinate the efforts of thousands of volunteers and collaborates with government, corporate and private entities to continue growing the organisation. 

Prior to launching Serving Our People, Yas says he was not fully aware of the problems facing his surrounding community. Now he feels he is more acutely aware of people’s needs and how they can be addressed.  

It’s truly heartwarming how many people want to help. People are very kind with their time and effort. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to not have experience in the sector. Create a strong team to work with. Persevere and never give up.

Yas Matbouly

He says working with the organisation has given him a strong sense of purpose and the desire to grow the organisation as much as possible in order to help more and more people.  

“It’s a way of putting the teachings and principles of the Baha’i Faith into action”, he says. While Serving Our People is not a religious organisation, he is very much inspired by his Faith in this work and many of those involved in the charity work have been curious about this source of inspiration and have engaged in the institute process as a result.  

Individuals in need of assistance can contact the charity via its free supermarkets – known as the People’s Market – or via a hotline or the organisation’s website. Yas explains that one of the advantages of their mode of operation is that people can volunteer even if they only have limited time available.  

When asked what advice he would give to someone thinking of starting a social action initiative, Yas says: “Just get started. Ask some people to help and then let the world know. If your intentions are pure and you are helping others, people will get inspired to get involved.  

“It’s truly heartwarming how many people want to help. People are very kind with their time and effort. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to not have experience in the sector. Create a strong team to work with. Persevere and never give up.” 

Thanks for reading.

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Yas Daniel Matbouly

Yas is the founder of the charity Serving Our People, which aims to address people’s needs in whatever capacity required. As an Australian and businessman with more than 20 years experience, he has spent his life living and working in Dubai, London, and New York. In 2016, he completed the FUNDAEC Contributing to the Advancement […]

Published in June, 2024, in Individual Initiatives > Initiatives

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/individual-initiatives/from-humble-beginnings-to-one-of-australias-fastest-growing-charities-the-story-of-serving-our-people/

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