Spring/Summer 2023

Our Knights & Distinguished Personalities
Charity Champion

For nearly a decade, Khalil Al Daylami had devoted himself to charitable work with little fanfare, finding great satisfaction in his selfless endeavours. But in 2022, a video of a unique tribute to him at a busy traffic intersection went viral, catapulting him to the status of an instant celebrity.

The video featured volunteers holding up placards, trucks adorned with posters, and advertising kiosks saluting Al Daylami’s tremendous work for orphans and the needy as he waited for the green light. The video brought a wave of support for ‘Baba Khalil’, a father figure for Bahrain’s orphans and a charity champion.

“I never sought this kind of attention,” Al Daylami tells Arabian Knight. “It happened without my knowledge and was quite heartwarming. Of course, it has helped our charity. More people are aware of what we do, and many have reached out to us,” he hastens to add.

The video’s impact went beyond just boosting Al Daylami’s profile. During a recent Umrah pilgrimage to Makkah, a middle-aged man approached him and hugged him. Speaking in a language he didn’t understand, the man showed Al Daylami the video on his mobile phone. “It was truly humbling,” Al Daylami recalls.

Al Daylami is an accomplished architect who has been successfully running AlDaylami Architecture and Engineering office in Bahrain for over three decades. Since 2012, he has also been spearheading a charity organisation that has helped hundreds of orphans, widows, and needy people stand on their own feet, face life’s challenges, and, above all, feel they belong to the community.

As the old adage goes, charity begins at home, and for Al Daylami, this was literally true. He credits his brother Adel, then a senior executive at Batelco, with the idea of launching a charity.

“Adel proposed this to me and our family, and we took it seriously. We formed a small group with three other friends, and we met every week at my father’s house to plan our future course of action,” he recounts. “Our inspiration came from seeing the needs of society and feeling the urge to do something about it.

“People started joining us, and we helped the needy as much as possible. Then we decided to go big and applied for registration from the government,” Al Daylami adds.

The aptly named Tree of Life Charity Society was established in May 2012, and since then, Al Daylami has remained its Chairman.


The beginning

The son of a wholesale trader in vegetables and fruits, Al Daylami attended Hoora Secondary School and initially aspired to become a doctor. However, his passion for art led him to study architecture at Alexandria University in Egypt, a decision he doesn’t regret.

After graduating, he worked at Bapco for two years in the construction and engineering division.   However, he wanted to do something on his own and launched his practice in 1983. Over the years, he has completed more than 600 diverse projects, including commercial, social, religious, and private villas and palaces.

One of the projects that Al Daylami is fond of is the Matam Ajam Al Kabeer Mosque, Manama. Completed in 2000, this project features a unique mosaic design. He considers it to be a pivotal project in his career, as it opened the door to even larger and more ambitious religious projects.

Success breeds success and to new ventures and an unending race to the top. However, for Al Daylami it had to be different.

“My journey has been one of self-discovery and personal growth. As I have grown in my understanding of faith, I have come to realise that success is not just about accumulating wealth and power, but about using my resources to make a positive impact in the world,” he continues.

“I believe that charity and philanthropy are key components of a fulfilling life, and that helping others is a crucial part of our duty as human beings. My faith teaches me that God rewards those who do good, and that by giving to others, we draw closer to the divine,” he explains as we prod him to talk about what inspired him to launch the charity.


Assisting the needy

The Tree of Life Charity Society now provides assistance to over 860 orphans, more than 440 widows, and over 300 needy families.

“As a charity organisation, we work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of these individuals are met. Over the years, Tree of Life Charity Society has expanded its reach to cover all of Bahrain. We have a system in place to connect individuals in need with the appropriate resources. For example, if someone from Saar requires financial assistance for a specific need, we will coordinate with other organisations to provide the necessary support,” he says.

The society provides monthly groceries to families in need and has various programmes to support orphans, including healthcare, education, finance, and social events. “We support orphans from the day they come to us until they finish university and start their adult lives. Every year, we take eight orphans with the highest marks in their schools on a study tour abroad as a gift for their hard work and perseverance. We also take a batch every year on the Umrah pilgrimage,” Al Daylami says.

He highlights that the organisation’s goal is to assimilate them into society in a way that they don’t feel left out.

The charity also offers specialised programmes for orphans, where experts teach the children skills like art, crafts, music, karate, sports, and other areas of interest.

The society keeps regular contact with them, keeping a record of each child’s progress until they graduate from university or attain adulthood. Sometimes, the society even offers financial support for their weddings.

“Our services are not limited to orphans; we welcome all individuals in need to come to us. We offer free medical consultations and check-ups and medications for the needy. The organisation has a team of dedicated staff and volunteers,” points out Al Daylami.

Organising charity is not an easy task. There are innumerable challenges in reaching the goal, including raising funds, identifying the needy, gathering volunteers, and lack of space. “Meeting our budget is always a challenge since most of our donors are middle-class working people. However, despite the challenge, we have been able to enhance our work every year. That gives us hope in the goodness of people,” he says.

How did he come to be known as ‘Baba Khalil’, we ask Al Daylami.

“It all started when a small child asked me what my name is and being told it was Khalil, the boy asked if he can call me Baba. I said yes and since then children started calling me ‘Baba Khalil’,” he recollects as his eyes well up.

“We take care of the children as if they are our own and act as a father figure for them, trying to keep them happy. We provide them with the same quality of food, clothes, and gifts that we give to our own children,” he says.

One thing he insists is that the needy should be provided the same quality of food, clothing or items that we would buy for ourselves. “When we help, we must ensure that we provide them with what we will use and not something we do not use,” he reminds.

Many of the orphans the society has supported come back to it after graduating and finding jobs, willing to help and support others in need. “We always encourage them to come back and be a part of our events, and they do so willingly, joining us in organising events and helping younger orphans in need. They have grown up with us, and it is heartwarming to see that they are now giving back to the community they were once a part of,” says Al Daylami.

How has life changed for him after being involved with charity work?

“Being involved with orphans has been a life-changing experience for me. Whenever I meet people now, they treat me differently than before. I’m not sure why, because I’m still the same person. However, perhaps they can sense the good work I have been doing,” he says.

“As a philanthropist, my mission is to help as many people as possible, day or night. I strongly believe that whatever I do, it is still little in comparison to what can be done to alleviate people’s suffering. My goal is to continuously grow and expand our charity’s reach to be able to provide more facilities, classes, and resources to those in need,” he adds.

He says the society has many needs, the most pressing one being a building of its own with space for events, gatherings and offices. “The government can help in this regard by providing a plot of land. After all, we are complementing the work of the government. We believe that with more collaboration and support, we can make a significant difference in people’s lives,” he stresses.

Running the charity is a year-round challenge that requires significant financial support. But he has faith in the kindness of the human heart.

“A few years back, a lady sought help for her young son’s kidney transplant. We ran a campaign to collect BD50,000 to pay towards the medical expenses. During the last leg of the campaign, when we were still short of the target, a stranger came to our office and gave us a significant amount of money to cover the shortfall, without revealing his/her name or affiliation. Such acts of kindness inspire us to keep doing what we are doing and make us believe that there is still a lot of good in the world,” Al Daylami comments.

Al Daylami married Jameela Al Mahroos while both were working at Bapco. They have four children – three sons and a daughter. He says his wife and children and the larger family comprising brothers, uncles, aunts and cousins have been a great support in his social work.

“They never question why I spend so much time on it or why I don’t visit them more often. We are all in this together, supporting each other.”

What is his advice to people keen to join social service?

“Those interested in getting involved in philanthropy and charity should be patient, understanding, and sympathetic towards the needs of the community. We welcome people from all walks of life, regardless of their qualifications or educational background,” says Al Daylami.

“I believe that giving back to the community is not just a responsibility but also a privilege. We do not measure success in terms of monetary gain but in the number of lives we touch and help improve. Life is short, and we want to make the most of it by helping those in need and making a positive impact on the world around us.

“I have experienced firsthand the joy and love that comes from helping others,” he concludes.  

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