An army of volunteers will get together at Dubai’s World Trade Centre on Thursday with one thing on their mind, ‘Helping the needy’. Keeping with the spirit of Ramadan, the volunteers will come together to support the charity initiative Adopt-a-Camp.
Partnering with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ramadan Care Packages Night will see more than 5,000 volunteers pack boxes of essential supplies for labourers. The packages will include a new mattress, pillow, bedding and towel, as well as clothes, enough toiletries to last three months and energy-rich foods. They will also contain special items that the men have requested, such as plates, prayer mats and prayer beads.
Last year the event helped 3,200 labourers across eight labour accommodations, but this year the initiative hopes to reach 5,000 men living in one huge labour cluster in Dubai.“We really try to give them something real that will make a difference to their lives,” says Saher Shaikh, founder of Adopt-a-Camp.
Hassan Al Hashemi, External Relations Director at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, echoed her comments, saying that the partnership had worked right from the very beginning. “Last year’s Ramadan Care Packages Night was a huge success and surpassed all our expectations. Despite it being a big challenge, we are determined to beat last year’s total and help even more labourers this time around,” says Hassan Al Hashemi.
Adopt-a-Camp started seven years ago after Saher saw a labourer struggling to pay for a ‘laban’ drink and a bread roll in her local grocery shop. Touched by his plight, she told him it was her baby son’s first birthday and she wanted to buy the man a treat to celebrate. “It was actually a lie, but I wanted to buy the man something and I knew that his dignity would not allow it,” she explains. “It took some time to convince him but eventually he went and came back with a small Dh1 bottle of strawberry milk. That was it, he wanted nothing more.”
Helping the labourers became a regular occurrence and following a visit to their living quarters in a labour accommodation Saher knew she had to do something to make a difference in their lives.
“Driving away from there I knew I could never forget what I had seen. This was never part of my life plan, but after that I couldn’t go back to my life without trying to be there and do something,” she admits.
She started Adopt-a-Camp to give consistent support to labourers and their families and communities back home. Since it began, 16,000 care packages have been distributed throughout the UAE and countless other food, water and clothes drop-offs organised. At present, the initiative permanently sponsors 32,300 labourers living in 43 accommodations across the UAE. Apart from receiving care packages the men are also provided with free English classes, free vocational courses, emotional counselling, hygiene workshops and occasional day-outs. The initiative has also helped over 20,000 labourers, who were abandoned by their employer, by either helping them find new employment in the UAE or by helping them to their families.
The Ramadan Care Packages Night will take place on Thursday from 9pm at Dubai World Trade Centre. For further information please visit— www.dubaichamber.com or www.adoptacamp.ae.