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What you need to know:

  • Children start an initiative to give used toys in good condition, to those less fortunate.

It all started two years ago during 2017, the Year of Giving in the UAE, when two sisters Fariza and Zahrah Ellahi, who were seven and five years old respectively, decided to put some of their own gently used toys together and also collected toys from their friends to take along with them during their school holidays to share with underprivileged children around the world. Through campaigning and a Gulf News report, their efforts were greatly appreciated (“One person’s trash is another’s reason to smile”, Gulf News, March 12, 2017).

Two years later, campaign going strong

With a positive response from many children who wanted to participate, they were able to make their first trip to an orphanage in Bangladesh where they hand delivered toys to each of the children there. Since then, the two sisters have chosen various destinations for school holidays to spend their time with those in need at orphanages and underprivileged schools to bring smiles to many deserving faces in those communities. Toys not only bring smiles to children, it can also be a learning tool for the development of fine and gross motor skills, hand eye coordination and nurture creative imagination, making it an integral part of a child’s growth. Unfortunately, too many children around the world are growing up without having a toy they can call their own. Through the work of Fariza and Zahrah, now hundreds of children have their own toys and underprivileged schools are able to use the toys for teaching the students. In the process the two youngsters are also able to promote recycling by keeping the environment clean, and toys away from landfills.

‘Little Founders for Change’

With growing interest from many children, Fariza and Zahrah have formed a team called ‘Little Founders for Change’, made up entirely of children, that has been growing with students from different schools across the UAE as well as students from other parts of the world. The team members represent many different nationalities that contribute actively and promote their mission within the community.

Together Fariza and Zahrah along with their dedicated team members have completed 20 projects in five different countries including the UAE, US, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, giving away hundreds of toys. In the UAE, they have been contributing to the Dubai Center for Special Needs and their most recent project was done locally in Dubai in May. With the help and active participation of Raffles International School students and staff, the two sisters were able to collect and share toys with the children at Senses special needs residence and day care. Students from Raffles International School as well as other schools around Dubai joined to deliver the toys. Their upcoming project will now be during their summer vacation in the US in July. By making connections with orphanages, schools and organisations, ‘Little Founders for Change’ is able to provide a way to reach out to a larger community that can benefit both directly and indirectly.

Through their projects the team has been able to empower the youth, bring communities together and also contribute towards waste management while advocating for recycling of toys to help the environment by keeping toys and plastics out of the landfills. Both sisters take part in recycling work throughout the year and being a member of the Emirates Environmental Group, Fariza feels the toy drive initiatives further expand their contribution towards the environment.

“Together lets deliver smiles around the world in a greener, waste free environment,” said Fariza.

Never too young to make a difference

News about their efforts has spread in other communities through news coverage and newspaper articles published in the US, Bangladesh and the UAE. Through their work, it goes to show that even children at any age can make a positive change in the world.

“Every toy is associated with a memory of a child. When we learn to share it with others, we learn to give back and help other children create new memories with it. We make new friends around the world. Together if each one of us do our part, we can make the world a better, happier and cleaner place,” said Zahrah.

Gulf News advocates for positive changes in the community, “Little Founders for Change” team members hope to raise awareness of such initiatives by having more children join in the mission to create a global impact.

— The reader is a homemaker based in Dubai.

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