A Gift Set In Motion: The Story of BAG 943
How a Single Act of Generosity Continues to Transform a Nation
Featured Positively Pinoy-Josh Mahinay, social entrepreneur
Growing up in Zamboanga as the youngest of 9 children in a poor mining family, Josh Mahinay recalls vividly the struggles of his childhood. Due to the nature of his parent’s work, most of Josh’s growing up years were spent apart from them. He and his brothers and sisters raised themselves with the exception of occasional intervention from extended family. Absent of parental figures and ensnared by poverty, it would be easy to dismiss young Josh’s future as just another casualty of circumstance…but then, there was God.
Although Josh’s family situation was not ideal, his parents loved the Lord and shared that love with him and his siblings. Josh can remember from early childhood a sense of God calling him to do something significant with his life. He felt compelled to better himself and his situation so that he could bless others and his country. From primary school on he knew that excelling in his course work could provide him his way out of poverty.
Funny thing about poverty, like a famished predator clings to its prey, poverty seems to fight back against those trying to break free from its bondage. For young Josh his struggle with poverty was symbolized by the bag he used to carry his books and assignments to and from school each day. Not able to afford public transportation, he would walk the hour and a half each way to school everyday. No money for the jeepney also meant no money for a proper school bag, so Josh used what he could get for free… plastic bags from the local sari-sari store.
Walking the great distance each day, his bag would often rip and tear along the road spilling the contents onto the ground. Josh recalls how out of place the bag made him feel around his classmates and how the Enemy would whisper lies into his ear that he didn’t and couldn’t measure up to everyone else. The red and white plastic bag became symbolic of shame and the struggle to hold his fragile dreams and desires together and not let them slip through the tears and holes poverty had ripped into young life.
A generous heart and an insightful gift can be the instruments of God to illuminate the course of someone’s destiny. Josh was in fourth grade when he received his first school backpack, a gift from a discerning and loving relative. As simple as that gift might sound, for Josh it was transformational. For the first time, he felt like he belonged and maybe, just maybe, his dreams could come true.
Twenty years later, Josh looks back upon that event and remembers it as the first in a series of generous actions that God used to direct and shape his life. With the help and support of many others along the way, Josh continued to excel in school and graduated college with a degree in Political Science. Today he splits his time between the US and the Philippines and is reinvesting the generosity shown to him.
In 2012, Josh founded the B.A.G.943 (Be A Giver) social enterprise. The company supports educational opportunities for impoverished Filipino children through their buy one-give one school backpack business model. To date B.A.G. 943 is working in partnership with 12 schools and has given away over 1,300 bags through the generous support of their patrons. Reflecting back on his personal experience and now the mission of B.A.G. 943, Josh offers this consideration,
“You can’t change the world but certainly, you can change “a world”. The people I met during my journey changed mine. Now, it’s time to change someone else’s.”
Josh sees B.A.G. 943 as an opportunity to share his story of a life transformed by generosity and a chance to inspire others to do the same. You can join the transformation when you visit their website today at www.bag943.com
August 7th, 2013