Dubai: UAE expatriates are coming together as a unit to help counter the financial impact of COVID-19. They are reaching out to those in need by offering their services on a voluntary basis.
An Indian salesman living in Dubai, Abdul Razzak is one such volunteer who is dedicating his spare time to bring much needed positive difference to the community. Every day, Razzak takes his cycle to distribute food packets to blue collar employees in worker accommodations across the city. The workers ,who have been strictly cautioned not to step out from their buildings, received supplies by volunteers like Razzak – who is a member of the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC).
No human contact
“We are not allowed to go inside the buildings. Authorities have told us to drop the packets at the entrance of the building. We are around 100 volunteers in KMCC who are distributing food, medicine and personal supplies,” he said.
“Many people ask me why I am doing this. My reply is that I cannot think of an alternative thing to do. Instead of sitting at home worrying about the situation I would rather be on the field helping people,” he added.
He said volunteers maintain social distance and follow precautionary guidelines while going about their job. Razzak wears a special volunteer’s badge that permits him to move around in certain locales of the city in order to deliver these supplies.
What started as delivering food packets to four people is now a project that feeds 14,842 workers in various locations around Dubai. Razzak and other volunteers are allocated drop off points every day. “There are 10 points for drop off. I deliver both lunch and dinner,” he said.
Praveen Kumar, 42, an IT consultant by profession and a core member of the medical committee at Indian consulate, has been inundated with typing work for documentation related to expat deaths in Dubai. The death of expats in UAE whether due to COVID-19 or other reasons require formalities to be completed as per Indian government rules. “Typically there is a fair amount of paper work involved and this has to be typed. Usually it is done at the typing centres but now they are closed due to the sterilisation drive,” he explains.
And so Kumar offers the service on voluntary basis.
A Dubai-based restaurant owner is going beyond the call of duty. Spanish expat Sergio Lopez has provided help to his staff (close to 50 people), offering them grocery supplies for a month.
But he didn't stop there. Sergio and his two other friends have joined hands to provide care packages - full of food items - for those in need of supplies. ”Community is the ethos we have based our business around and during hard times it has to be stronger than ever. Employees are any company’s strongest asset so we started by helping our 42 staff members and their family, sending care packages. My friends James and Amy wanted to help out and extend this initiative to reach more people. We are co-ordinating with food suppliers and feeding people. So friends have heard about the initiative and they are forwarding contacts of people in distress. Give when you can, receive when you need,” he added.
Dr Sanjay Paithankar, a Dubai-based medical practitioner who runs his own private clinic Right Health Group, has so far tested 350 people and is working closely with Dubai Health Authority (DHA). “The Authority has given us the Al Quoz ares to conduct tests. We are involved in collecting samples and entering the data of samples collected. As a doctor it is my duty to help the government in a situation like this,” he says.
For Thanziya Khan from Mangalore, India, there is no greater pleasure in life than cooking. It is her passion and she is sharing this with the community. As a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, many workers in Dubai are not allowed to step out of their building and so Thanziya and her husband cook food for 30 workers every second day. “The menu is usually a rice dish – mostly Chicken Pulao. A couple of volunteers with all necessary permits to move around the city come and pick up the food packets. We are responsible when we hand out the packets. My husband and I wear masks, gloves and ensure we maintain social distance while handing out the food. It gives me pleasure - doing something for our wonderful community,” she adds.