Dubai: It was an unforgettable afternoon of fun, games and good food on Friday for over 600 blue collar workers from African and South Asian countries employed with various government departments and private companies, courtesy the Dubai Sports Council and St Mary’s Catholic Church.
The event, Shukran Dubai, organised from 2.30pm to 9pm at an indoor sports auditorium in Al Quoz had sports contests, food, entertainment and raffle draws that drew shouts of joy from the workers as 130 church volunteers made sure the entire gathering had fun.
Father Lennie Connully, head parish priest from St Mary’s Church, told Gulf News: “The city has fulfilled the dreams of so many and given residents a clean, safe and happy environment. Shukran Dubai is our gesture to say thank you to the government. We invited representatives of Dubai Police, CID, Dubai Municipality and Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Foundation for Women and Chilren and the Indian Consulate.”
The organisers expressed their gratitude to workers who toil incessantly to keep the city clean, safe and gleaming.
Volunteers from Yellow Brick Nursery – Chinazo Ejliofor, Prosper Kwesi and Samuel Kukubor – set the mood for the occasion by drumming up foot-tapping African beats, which set off impromptu dance moves among workers from Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.
Game booths and bouncing-castle kiosks manned by volunteers kept the workers entertained while others planned indoor cricket, volleyball, football and other sport.
The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWC) sent representatives to express solidarity with the workers including Anita Wilson, clinical psychologist.
Sandra Zeitun, executive secretary of DFWC, said: “The church has always shown solidarity in supporting us when we tackle cases of women and child abuse especially in cases of domestic violence and human trafficking. So we are here to express our support to the Shukran Dubai initiative.”
Ganem Abdullah Lootah, Director of Marketing and Communications from the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), told Gulf News, “Shukran Dubai is a very good initiative as it is giving us a chance to say thank you to workers and we are happy to lend our support to this.”
Riyaz Shahuddin, a worker from the public health and safety department of Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News: “My colleagues and I plan to play football with other teams and hope to win the trophy at the end of the contest. We are enjoying ourselves.”
Workers from entities such as civil defence, fire-fighting operations, construction, cleaning, maintenance and gardening companies drawing salaries of less than Dh1,500 were invited for the event, which featured a cricket competition among other sporting activities besides delectable food arranged by several sponsors.
A health camp offering basic health screening was sponsored by Medeor 24/7 and Cedars Hospital, Jebel Ali. A medical team was also on site to administer first aid and to monitor participants in various events for signs of fatigue or injury.
The sports events included badminton, table tennis, basketball, football and cricket with trophies being awarded to the finalists but the highlight of the day was a raffle ticket offering winners airfare for a trip home.