Volunteers from the Community Development Authority(CDA) distributing stuff at a labour camp in Al Quoz. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Thousands of UAE volunteers under Community Development Authority (CDA) clocked in more volunteering hours for the first 10 months of this year compared to last year, contributing man hours equivalent to more than Dh6.3 million.

With the theme Year of Giving as a national goal for 2017, some 3,819 volunteers responded to the call and gave 81,898 hours of their time to the community, up from the previous year’s 62,000 volunteering hours.

CDA revealed the figures ahead of the International Volunteer Day, celebrated every December 5 to offer a unique chance for volunteers and organisations to celebrate their efforts and volunteer work.

Aside from individual volunteers, there were also 171 companies in Dubai that registered with CDA this year to give back to the community.

Hana Bakkar Al Harthi, Director of the Social Cohesion Department at CDA, earlier told Gulf News that CDA is regularly encouraging more people to volunteer and give their time, effort, and expertise to society. From just having 20 volunteers registered in CDA’s database in 2009, the numbers have grown more than a hundred fold.

Some 118 of the 200 nationalities in Dubai are already volunteering in Dubai, with an age range of 10 and 105.

CDA conducted 93 volunteering opportunities this year of various nature such as reading books to the elderly, renovating homes of the needy, awareness campaigns, among others. But the most in demand volunteering work is horseback riding programme for children of determination.

Meanwhile, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) employees have also clocked in thousands of hours through the years, Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, Managing Director and CEO of Dewa, said.

“At Dewa, we continuously support the integrated sustainable system of volunteering and community cohesion, among our employees and the community. Dewa employees participate in volunteering activities, inside and outside the UAE, because they believe that humanitarian work results in true happiness,” Al Tayer said.

“Dewa launched 224 initiatives from 2013 to 2016, with over 42,000 hours of volunteer work achieved by Dewa employees.”

Dewa’s most recent volunteer work was in Tajikistan where they gave access to safe drinking water, trucks and other machines to families in need to help them have a stable source of income.

From the private sector, Aster DM Healthcare’s ‘Aster Volunteers’ programme has seen nearly 8,000 volunteers take part in a wide range of compassionate care initiatives across the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, India and the Philippines.

The ‘Aster Volunteers’ programme launched in June is part of the ‘Aster @30’ campaign to mark Aster’s 30th anniversary.

The programme includes several initiatives across all of Aster DM Healthcare’s 96 clinics and 18 hospitals, such as providing 732 free surgeries, including six in the GCC, giving thousands of free investigations and treatments for patients in need, among others.

“We are wholly committed to give back to society and support the growth and betterment of communities. Aster has crossed boundaries and geographies to reach out to communities that most need help …” said Dr Azad Moopen, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare.

Aster currently has 7,900 volunteers, 2,541 of whom are from the UAE.

There are countless other volunteers and organisations in Dubai who selflessly give hours of their time and effort who have not been included in this report as there is no single database for all volunteering work in the emirate.

At a glance

Volunteers registered with CDA: 3,819

Companies registered with CDA: 171

Total Number of volunteering opportunities: 93

Volunteers participating in Awareness Campaigns: 2,870

Total number of volunteering hours: 81,898

Equivalent to savings of: Dh6,388,005

How he can make a difference

In a unique move, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, earlier encouraged residents via SMS to suggest how he can make a difference in people’s lives for one day on the International Volunteer Day.

He said that there is no cause too great or too small and that “we can all make a difference everywhere, with the simple, yet valuable gift of our time.”

Among those who gave suggestions is Tarek who said: “The labourers for sure. Spend time with them and make them feel appreciated for the great work they do.”

Ahmad said it would be a great idea for Shaikh Hamdan to spend time with the elderly while another resident said he can play basketball with people of determination.