Dubai: Every year, across the Arab world, the month of Ramadan brings about a change in the way we act and live. However, this year is exceptionally different. With the spread of COVID-19, and many people struggling across the world, whether that’s with the mental toll of staying inside for weeks on end or the economic toll of losing a job or dealing with a salary cut, this year, many UAE residents have not waited for Ramadan to start, so they can kick off with good deeds.
Since people can’t physically be out there helping people, they are armed with the power of social media, especially Facebook groups to start helping communities across the UAE and the region get through these challenging times. Despite the physical separation it is possible to still help others and to overcome the feeling of isolation and seclusion by spreading hope and positivity.
These community leaders, or Icons of Change, as Facebook has dubbed them, are putting humans at the heart of their community engagement.
We’ve gathered a list of five UAE Facebook groups that you can join, to help the less fortunate society members.
Stop and Help
Founded by Heather Harries and her husband and two sons, this group aims to lift “community spirits" during the pandemic. If someone is finding it difficult to afford basic essentials, you can join this group and ask for assistance. Stop and Help works by encouraging people in need to send a private message to Heather on Facebook. Their requests are then posted anonymously on the group’s page for users to respond to and contribute what they can. Harries handles the delivery logistics. The group has so far delivered free food, drink and other items to more than 60 households across the UAE to help them weather the outbreak, all while maintaining a social distance, of course.
UAE Fusion Socialites
Ayesha Sohail, a Pakistani mother in Sharjah, is using her social media skills to help low-income families across the country She operates the UAE Fusion Socialites Facebook page, to encourage her 19,658 group members to donate groceries. Sohail and her husband handle the deliveries. They pick up and drop off the groceries outside of the homes of the needy families.
In This Together
Inspired by her mother and founded by Anna Arzua MacMillan, the group is a grass-roots initiative, working as connector between people who need help with those who can help during the Coronavirus crisis. Whether someone needs a grocery delivery, or some medicine picked up. This group is a perfect way to do good, while maintaining social distancing rules.
Freecycle Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Gina Dillon Podolsky runs Freecycle, which are two large active communities in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Freecycle encourages members to set aside time to clear out their closets and storage and specifically donate any of their items to those most in need. In Ramadan the group has created a special initiative known as “The Grocery Gift”. The initiative has been trialing for the past two weeks. The Grocery Gift uses e-gift cards to connect donors with families in need. For this project, they are working with Himma, The Social Initiative which is a youth and female empowerment program based in Abu Dhabi. The initiative also ensures total social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Manal Rostom, founder of this well-known Facebook group, has cultivated a massive community encouraging women all over the world and giving 700k member’s support on how to stay strong, while wearing the Hijab. The platform thrives by supporting women across the MENA region throughout the year. In addition to messages of support, they provide free live meditation sessions by certified coaches, as well as free workout session. Throughout the stressful times of COVID-19, Surviving Hijab are celebrating Female, Hijab- wearing health care professionals by creating the hashtag #SurvivingHijabHeroes and all of their stories have been posted on the Facebook group.
Throughout Ramadan, with the lack of group iftars taking place this year, most of the online communities, will continue doing their core charity work as well as looking to supply needy members of society with food and toiletries. They need volunteers to take their work forward. If you are fortunate enough to donate, this is a great way to get into the giving spirit.
Make this Ramadan an impactful one.