The UAE-based volunteers have started foundation work on a primary school in Katchereza village in Malawi. Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Cares

Dubai: Thirteen UAE-based volunteers have returned to Dubai following a life-changing experience in the southeastern African country of Malawi. The group, which was chosen following a rigorous selection process, took part in ‘Volunteer Globally’, a popular volunteering initiative by Dubai Cares, part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

The volunteers spent a week in the village of Katchereza located in the district of Kasungu in the Malawi’s central region, and successfully set the foundation of a new two-classroom primary school that will directly benefit 100 children, (50 per cent girls’ enrolment) and 60 illiterate men and women. Additionally, six women will be part of the 12-person leadership team that helps drive the project to completion.

Reflecting one of the pillars of the Year of Tolerance to implement multicultural initiatives and projects, the volunteer group, consisting of diverse nationalities and professional backgrounds, worked together with the local community and combined their wide variety of skills to assist in all construction activities, while enjoying the unique opportunity of interacting with community members and discovering their culture, values and traditions. The volunteers have returned from this rewarding experience with remarkable stories and the satisfaction of having directly bonded with the community they have lent a hand.

Abdullah Ahmad Al Shehhi, Chief Operating Officer at Dubai Cares, said: “For an entire week, the volunteers displayed values of selflessness, solidarity and commitment towards the construction of this new community-based primary school, that will have a profound impact on the lives of the children in that village and the surrounding communities. It is always very humbling to see volunteers from diverse backgrounds coming together with such enthusiasm, rolling up their sleeves and working as a tight-knit team with the local population. This is why Volunteer Globally is such a unique experience that boosts tolerance and strengthens bonds among communities around the world, an initiative that is fully aligned with the Year of Tolerance in the UAE.”

Volunteer Hamad Mansoor Al Awar said: “I really enjoyed being part of this mission. All our energies were focused on working with people on the ground, and getting to know the local population better. I appreciated the opportunity to meet children who will be actually enrolled in the school we were helping to build.”

Rita Sanna added: “While I was in Malawi participating in the school-building mission, I discovered that there is nothing more rewarding than donating a smile and making someone happy. It is not important who the person is or how you do it, but this is what gives meaning to life.”

Malawi has been consistently ranked among the world’s 20 least developed countries on the UN’s Human Development Index. The country has long been challenged by economic stagnation and a lack of access to education, with almost three quarter of the population living below the poverty line, and a quarter living in extreme poverty, according to recent IMF reports.