Dubai: Jumeirah Beach Road was awash in a sea of colourful T-shirts early on Friday as 5,500 people took to the streets to support Walk for Education 2013.
Organised by Dubai Cares, the awareness event saw residents covering a distance of three kilometres, which represents the average distance millions of children around the world have to walk to go to school on a daily basis.
The Walk for Education, a Dubai Cares official said, aims to raise awareness of issues that prevent children in developing countries from gaining access to quality primary education and also highlights the importance of primary education in breaking the cycle of poverty.
“This is our fourth annual Walk for Education, which is specifically geared towards involving the UAE community to raise awareness and promote volunteerism, as well as to provide an opportunity to experience first-hand the hardships that children in developing countries endure on a daily basis,” explained Tareq Al Gurg, chief executive officer of Dubai Cares. Thousands of participants held banners and cheered each other along as they walked down the road. The upbeat campaigners were in for a surprise as they were greeted half-way by a Dubai Police band playing bagpipes and drums.
Eighteen women from the Royal Beach Nursery, who all wore golden crowns on their heads, stood out from the crowd, some of them pushing their children in baby strollers.
“We would like to help children because education is important for all and this is a good cause. And we all came here today to support Dubai Cares and [its charities]. This is the first time that I’ve done the walk but I’ll definitely do it again next year if possible,” said Suzanne Ayoub, manager of Royal Beach Nursery.
Other participants said the campaign was one other nations could use as a model given the ease with which it conveyed its message. “I joined the walk with eight of my colleagues to support the cause of education. In India, they should do something like this because it is a global cause and not all children have the opportunity to get primary education,” said Saira Salim.
Zaina Al Rayees, another participant, said: “I was the first person in my company to pre-register for the event and I was very excited about it. It’s my first time but, next year, I want to have a bigger group of colleagues joining me in the campaign.”
Last year, more than 3,500 people participated in the Walk for Education and it helped Dubai Cares raise over Dh100,000 for the cause. “We charged a symbolic fee of Dh30 to people over five years of age and expect to receive a larger contribution than last year’s event,” said Asma Abdul Malek, country programme officer of Dubai Cares.