Living Beyond Yourself: The Zainab Bhagat Story

Children emulate the world around them. When you respond with kindess, they notice. When you respond in anger, they see. They are mirrors that reflect the very best and worst of us. Tragically, they so often imitate the cruelty they see in the world; the prejudice and hatred. But children also represent the purest of hearts and the fullness of hope for the future.


Zainab pictured with her Girl Scout Troop

Zainab Bhagat has always reached out to the hurting, even when she didn’t realize she was practicing philanthropy. As a child in elementary school, she noticed one of her friends often went without. Her friend never seemed to have school supplies or a complete lunch. Without a second thought, Zainab shared everything she had to offer.

“There is so much more to life than yourself.” -Zainab Bhagat

We so often view philanthropy as a charitable donation. But do you know the actual definition of philanthropy? Simply put, it is the love of humanity. Philanthropy is not born in a wallet or bank account. Philanthropy is born in the heart, fostered by compassion, and given freely with love.


Zainab as a senior in high school

The moment you realize the world is much bigger than yourself, something beautiful happens; your heart becomes connected to billions of other hearts across the world. Eyes that were once blind to the struggles and triumphs of others, now see every moment as an opportunity to change the world.


“The opportunities I have, I want every girl to have.” -Zainab Bhagat

When Zainab had the opportunity to earn the Gold Award in high school, she never questioned if she should pursue it or not. She felt it a moral obligation to share her time, talent, and treasure with the world.

Zainab saw the Gold Award as so much more than an accolade in a frame. The Gold Award represents the true heart of philanthropy. It represents the very best of all of us. She knew the project would take her full devotion. She would have to spend at least 80 hours researching, planning, and working her project. She would have to present her concept before a committee, and her project would have to address a real issue in her community. But anything worth doing is rarely easy. zainab-in-vest

Zainab created a documentary about homelessness in her hometown of Irmo, South Carolina. She interviewed and became fast friends with a local teen who had endured incredible hardship. Watch her hard-hitting and inspirational documentary at the bottom of this article.

“Throughout my project, so many other people volunteered to help me create the documentary. It was amazing  to work together with others to make a change and help people.” -Zainab Bhagat

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Gold Award. An award that was created in 1916, when women didn’t even have the right to vote. But even in a time where a girl changing the world seemed impossible, girls were taking action to make the world a better place. Today, in 2016, girls like Zainab are still working towards that goal. Talk about a legacy.

“Helping others and looking beyond yourself- that’s what Girl Scouting means.” -Zainab Bhagat

“Stop the Cycle”, A documentary by Zainab Bhagat


Have you earned your Gold Award? I would love to hear about your project! Email me at to tell your story!


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