Dubai: Hundreds of volunteers, including families with children, helped pack thousands of school kits for conflict-affected Syrian children in the Dubai Cares’ Volunteer Emirates 2017 campaign on Saturday.
Sponsored by Union Coop, the campaign’s special Back-to-School edition aims to assemble 50,000 kits in a week. The kits, containing basic stationery supplies placed in a school bag, will be given to Syrian children in Jordan. Organisers are expecting a total of 3,000 volunteers till June 22.
On Thursday, around 500 volunteers from all walks of life helped assemble around 8,400 kits at Al Boom Tourist Village. Many of them were fasting as it is the month of Ramadan. Volunteers finished the task before sunset and were treated to iftar at the venue.
Iftar occurs a little after 7pm these days; there was a break for volunteers at around 5pm.
Khalid Al Hanbali, an 11-year-old Jordanian volunteer, said: “I’m fasting but volunteering doesn’t feel harder because I’m happy to help children like me get supplies for their education.”
His father, Ashraf Al Hanbali, 39, who was volunteering alongside Khalid, said: “I feel doubly passionate about volunteering in this good cause because the affected children are living in my country, Jordan.”
Saturday’s event saw volunteers systematically assemble the kits in a large hall. Each person stood in front of a sign on a long table that showed which item he or she was supposed to pack in the case, which moved down the table and finally into a bag, which was checked before being packed in shipping cartons.
The hall was filled with the rustling of materials as they were unpacked from bulk cartons and packed in cases.
Pakistani volunteer Syed Zahidi, 30, said: “I learnt about the initiative on Dubai Cares’ website [www.dubaicares.ae] and registered online. I seek out such opportunities and I’m happy to be part of this good cause. I’m fasting but it’s not hard, especially since we’re indoors,” he said.
Dubai Cares, part of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, said the school kits will be distributed to 50,000 children ahead of the beginning of the new school year.
Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares kicked off the initiative and joined the volunteers in packing the school kits.
According to a 2016 UNHCR report, Jordan currently hosts 633,644 officially registered Syrian refugees of whom 32 per cent — approximately 201,600 — are school-aged children and youth. It is estimated that 40 per cent — more than 90,000 — of these children are out of school.
Al Gurg said: “We are both overwhelmed and humbled by the turnout and commitment demonstrated by Dubai Cares’ volunteers who continue to show selflessness in donating their time and energy towards supporting others in need. The team at Dubai Cares, alongside a group of committed and passionate volunteers, have ensured a smooth and seamless process of properly packing the school bags to ensure that every child received the exact school essentials he or she needs, as well as placing them in boxes, ready to be shipped to children in Jordan who are affected by the Syrian crisis. I would also like to once again thank Union Coop for making this initiative possible.”
Hareb Al Falasi, director of operations division of Union Coop, on behalf of the CEO of Union Coop, said: “Our support for Dubai Cares in this initiative stems from our commitment to humanitarian and social causes. As a national entity, we are devoted to contributing to the fulfilment of our wise leaders’ vision, and this constitutes an integral part of our strategy in the fields of social support and support of national organisations. Union Coop has dedicated around Dh83.5 million in 2016 toward CSR, with an aim to spread happiness and the spirit of giving within the community, and contribute to the country’s remarkable vision.”
Dubai Cares has partnered with ‘Save the Children’ for the distribution of the school kits.