Tareq Al Gurg and Dr Abdullah Al Karam, director-general of KHDA, with students and faculty of GEMS Wellington Primary School (top) and The Kindergarten Starters. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The teams of GEMS Wellington Primary School and Kindergarten Starters in Dubai were honoured for their winning charity campaigns on Tuesday.

Students and teachers of schools from across the country attended the ‘Dubai Cares Distinguished Philanthropic Award in Schools’ honouring ceremony to celebrate their charitable projects during the Year of Zayed.

The awards, held by Dubai Cares, part of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, challenges UAE students to come up with and execute creative fundraising ideas. These ideas are in support of the charity’s efforts to deliver quality education to children and young people in developing countries and around the world.

“The 2018 edition of the award, which commemorates the Year of Zayed, has demonstrated that the values and lessons of empathy, compassion and generosity shared by our late Founding Father, Shaikh Zayed [Bin Sultan Al Nahyan], is shining from within this next generation,” said Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive officer of Dubai Cares.

The philanthropic competition consists of two categories. The Philanthropic School Award honours the school that raises the highest amount of fund, while The Young Philanthropists Award celebrates the group of five students who have devised the most creative and original fundraising concept.

GEMS Wellington Primary School bagged the Young Philanthropists Award for their creative project titled ‘Kindness in a bottle.’

“The concept behind the project is that we took the idea of sending a message in an old school way by putting it inside a bottle, and with that we had a donation box to raise funds,” said Gemma Game, Year-one class teacher at the school.

All students from Year 3 to 6 wrote a message each to a child in need in another part of the world. The messages included inspirational quotes, poetry, kind words, and even pictures.

“We also held a symbolic school-wide event in March where each class went down to the school’s pool to throw their messages into the water. The bottles were later collected and recycled, and the messages were kept with hopes of sending them along with the donations,” said Game.

Another teacher at the school, Nilam Khaira, said the idea came about through an after-school club called ‘The young philanthropist’ where a team of 12 children brainstormed on the creative ways of fundraising. “We are currently working with Dubai Cares to send some of the messages across to children in need whom we will be donating [the raised funds] to,” she said.

Representing her school at the award ceremony, Year 6 student Anushka Raw said she was happy the team’s hard work paid off. “We sent the notes to children all around the world, letting them know we want you to get better, we feel bad for you and we are sending money for you,” she said.

Her team member, Robeen Ishwehdi, a Year 5 student, said it was great fun writing the messages to children in other parts of the world.

“My favourite part about the project was being with everyone, raising money for all the needy children, and winning the first place,” she said.

Delhi Private School and Formarke School collected the second and third place awards, respectively, in the same category.

In the Philanthropic School Award category, the first place went to the Kindergarten Starters, with GEMS Modern Academy and Dubai National School coming in second and third place, respectively.

This year’s award will support Dubai Cares’ Education in Emergencies efforts, particularly programmes in Colombia, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Uganda, providing children and young people there with access to quality education in a safe and stable learning environment.

The annual initiative, which runs in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Education and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), seeks to cultivate and enhance the spirit of giving among the UAE community. It also aims to engage students in philanthropic work, strengthen the link between Dubai Cares and schools, and raise awareness of the obstacles to education in developing countries.