The Sweetest Thing!

0
2446

There’s no shortage of great causes on the island that could use some funding including animal shelters, organisations that support low income workers, cancer awareness campaigns and more. With the world currently facing the challenges presented by the coronavirus, a long-term resident of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Melitta Lopez, took it upon herself to come up with an innovative way to encourage continued charitable giving all while sweetening the deal! The International Relations Coordinator combined her love for charitable giving with her passion for cooking and launched The Misu Project (TMP) through which she raises funds by selling her own delectable dessert.

What can you tell us about TMP?  What led to you starting the concept?
As someone that was raised in Bahrain, this island is home to me and I have so much gratitude for all the things it has offered me. TMP started off as a new way for me to raise awareness towards causes I believe in and to give back to the community. I am constantly raising funds for different causes, and I recently started feeling like my friends and family were experiencing a bit of “donor fatigue”, so I had to come up with an innovative way to start raising funds. So, I started TMP just over a month back, with the intention of selling it and only being operational for a month.

Is there a particular reason why you chose to sell tiramisu?
Yes! Cooking is a passion for me. I’ve been cooking for friends and family for a long time now and lots of people would ask me to start selling some of the things I make. One of my dishes that was a crowd pleaser was my Tiramisu. So, I decided to make a pudding version of the classical Italian dessert and sell it for a month in order to raise money for charities I support.

What makes your Misu special?
With TMP I am very mindful of where our ingredients come from. For instance, we source our coffee directly from Colombian farmers, ensuring that our money and profits directly benefit the farmer and his community. Our fair-trade coffee is strong, bold and most importantly, ethical! We also use a blend of high-quality Dutch cocoa and organic dark chocolate that comes from a Bahraini local business. They are the Middle East’s first organic, fair-trade chocolate company, and we are so proud to support local businesses.

Which charities will you be donating the funds to and how often do you distribute them?
To date, my model has been to support one charity every two weeks. I’ve raised funds for different causes including One Heart Bahrain which distributes boxes of groceries to people who’ve been unemployed and are struggling to make ends meet. In addition, I’ve raised funds for Bahrain Animal Rescue Centre (BARC) which is Bahrain’s largest no-kill shelter that completely relies on the public for funding. Most shelters have recently seen an increase in animals, as people flee the country in a hurry and abandon their pets. I’ve also been raising funds for Think Pink which raises awareness and funds for Breast Cancer in Bahrain. I plan on distributing the funds at the end of the month.

How did you choose the charities you donate to?
I chose charities based on their needs and how I feel about their cause. Due to the current pandemic situation, it was heart wrenching to see so many people suffering financially so it was only natural that I supported organizations that helped such people. Animals have always been close to my heart, and I’ve always been a supporter of BARC. Going forward, I am excited at the prospect of being able to help a few more charities in whatever little way I can.

Is charitable giving something you’ve always done and how does it make you feel?
Yes! Like I mentioned earlier, I am always fundraising for something or the other and am a strong believer in putting other’s needs before my own. I have been an advocate for Shamsaha, the Middle East’s first and only women’s domestic violence crisis center for a few years now. I also enjoy volunteering my time and resources towards other causes like beach clean-ups, feeding neutered strays, food drives, etc.

How has the response to your initiative been so far?
Honestly, the response has been phenomenal. I didn’t expect the public to be this receptive of TMP. I was sold out for the whole month within a week of operation! It was surreal and I couldn’t believe the power of word-of-mouth. I had people ordering and reordering, and so it has been an extremely, extremely busy month.

What have your biggest challenges been so far?
I think the biggest challenge was just managing all of the operations myself: creating and maintaining a social media presence, taking orders in, interaction with my followers, actually making the Misu, keeping a tab on the stock and supplies, packaging and delivering. All of this while also working full time.

I did not expect this project to blow up and become as popular as it did. Since I was adamant about a few things like being mindful of the environment and upcycling the packaging myself, the whole process to get one Misu tub ready is quite tedious and labour intensive. Juggling all the different parts of my life and TMP has been difficult, but very, very rewarding.

Will TMP be an on-going concept? Any plans on changing up the dessert around the festive season?
As I mentioned, TMP was meant to be a 1-month project. However, due to the unexpected demand, I have had no choice but to extend the date. I am taking a short break for a week in early November to recuperate, but I will be in operation for a little while longer. I am planning a few limited-edition versions of the Misu too so stay tuned!