Dubai: COVID-19 has brought about many changes to Ramadan this year. One of them is how we do charity. Since there can be no open iftars or stocking of Ramadan fridges, we have to come up with alternative ways to contribute to those less fortunate, while also staying safe.
Here are 7 ways to make a difference this Ramadan.
1. Donate groceries over social media
Since we can’t physically be out there helping others, we should use the power of social media, especially Facebook groups to start helping communities across the UAE and the region to get through these challenging times. Check out 'Stop and Help' a Facebook group that you can use to contribute groceries to those less fortunate. Founded by Heather Harries and her husband and two sons, this group aims to lift “community spirits" during Ramadan and as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 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. 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, all while maintaining a social distance and contactless deliveries.
2. Sponsor a child online
Another way to volunteer without leaving your house. Sponsoring a child involves being financially responsible for his or her educational expenses, sometimes extending to include living expenses too. The payment involved in such programs are in yearly, half yearly or monthly instalments of small amounts. Almost all sponsorship programs give you periodic school progress reports and other details about the child. Some programs also allow you to be in contact with your sponsored child. International organisations which offer this program include World Vision, Save the Children and Compassion. Monthly payments start from Dh110 (US $30) per month which covers medical check-ups, food, basic education, health and hygiene training and mentoring, none of which would otherwise be accessible to these children.
3. SMS your iftar donation
Dar al Ber Society is a philanthropic and charitable organization based in Dubai. They make donating easy. You can SMS your donations these days, by paying directly through your smart phone. It's usually a very affordable amount. Your donation can start at Dh10 and go all the way up to Dh200.
SMS the word Iftar to 6025 to donate Dh20 to a needy person.
4. Donate an iftar meal the right way
Dubai Municipality usually runs campaigns every year to collect leftover food and distribute it to poor and needy families around the city, however this year, UAE residents have been urged not to donate food from their homes, in order to combat the spread of Coronavirus. There are specific charities registered in the UAE, through which you can donate food packages or iftar meals. One in particular is the 10 million meals campaign that was set up by Sheikh Mohammed. The campaign, calls on public entities, companies, businessmen, entrepreneurs and philanthropists to make a financial donation towards purchasing cooked meals and food supplies or provide food items and parcels for distribution, among hard-hit families and individuals in the challenging circumstances that left many unemployed and others with limited income due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the UAE.
5. Help cancer patients this Ramadan
Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) recently launched its eighth annual ‘I Deserve a Life’ Ramadan Zakat campaign, aimed at raising funds to help cancer patients who cannot afford the high cost of treatment. Donate from the safety of your home through their website focp.ae, where you can make and online purchase of donation coupons ranging from Dh10 to Dh1,000, or through an SMS donation. Just send the word ‘Zakat’ over Etisalat to 2303 to donate Dh10, 2305 to donate Dh50, 2307 to donate Dh100, or 2308 to donate Dh500. Or donate through a bank transfer, to which you can find the details here.
6. Gift a Meal initiative with the UAE Red Crescent
This year Make My Meal has collaborated with the UAE Red Crescent. They are on a mission to help feed thousands of families with your support. The UAE's largest online tiffin service has also teamed up with the UAE Food Bank to create their 'Gift A Meal' initiative. For Dh49 you can ensure that someone has meals for 7 days. You just have to go to their website and click the "Donate" button. You can help families of construction workers, cab drivers, healthcare professionals, people providing essential services as well as people who don't have any employment opportunities get through these tough times by ensuring they get a healthy and nutritious meal.
7. Build a shoe box hygiene care package for delivery guys
Most delivery guys in the UAE live away from their families for several months at a time and don’t have access to many things that we take for granted. Create several small (shoebox sized) care packages for them. Fill the care package with fresh toiletries including a bar of soap, hand sanitiser if you can spare some, a pair of new socks, phone credit recharge cards, a sealed off packet of dates from the supermarket, a packet of instant noodles and a bottle of water. Once your box is complete, keep a bunch of them handy, so whenever a delivery guy comes to your door, take what you ordered and safely place the care package on the floor instead of your delivery and ask them to take it instead.
8. Donate clean clothes with Washmen
This Ramadan, Washmen and Comfort are helping customers give back by launching a donation drive in partnership with Emirates Red Crescent. This initiative marks 11 years of Comfort’s ongoing effort in supporting the community during Ramadan, by collecting and distributing over a million items of clothing over the years and bringing the donations to thousands of families in need. The campaign, titled, “Give your clothes a second life”, encourages residents across the UAE to donate their gently used clothes to give a smile to those in need, all from the ‘comfort’ of your home.
The donations will be collected using Washmen and cleaned using Comfort. Washmen will then deliver the freshly cleaned items to Emirates Red Crescent, whose team will redirect the donations to those in need.
To facilitate the donation program, Washmen has launched a separate ‘Donate’ feature on the app that customers can use to make donations this Ramadan.
Here’s how to donate:
1. Fill a bag or Washmen laundry bag with clothes to be donated.
2. Mark the bag by writing ‘donation’ on it or by placing a recycling sticker on it.
3. Schedule the pick-up via the Washmen App.
The donation will run throughout Ramadan. It will be completely free of charge for the residents of Dubai and Abu Dhabi allowing them to place their donation order with or without their laundry order.