Dubai: When five-year-old Shrivardhan Ashok Kumar learnt that his school was collecting relief material for the Kerala flood victims, he didn’t hesitate to tell his parents and donate his pocket money towards the cause.
“The people [affected by the floods] in Kerala are sad because they don’t have anything. That day I had some pocket money left and gave it to my parents to buy [relief items],” Kumar, an Indian KG student, told Gulf News.
“We have to give, because sharing makes others happy,” he said, beaming.
Like him, there are instances of many other KGS students doing their bit to help the victims.
Filipina student Lourice Andrei Lubera Soliven, 7, went straight to the grocery with her parents, when she learnt of the floods. “Kerala needs our help,” the first grader said. “God told us to be kind and good and share with those in need.”
Clarisse Zuzarte, 5, was in India on vacation with her parents when she learnt about the campaign. Immediately, her mother, Wendy, who is also a teacher in her school, responded.
“The teachers gave money. But I told my mother to give extra money from my side,” Zuzarte said with a smile.
The three are just a few among many from the 5,000 students of The Kindergarten Starters (KGS), a GEMS School, who pooled together individual donations to send to flood victims in the south Indian state of Kerala.
Within a week, the students and their parents, 230 teachers and 83 ancillary staff, packed 70 cartons of relief items composed of new blankets, bedsheets, clothes, food items, and toiletries.
They handed over the relief items to the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) on Monday, their second massive donation in less than a month. The first was during the Eid Al Adha holiday when they gave three tonnes of relief items to add to the institution’s stocks ready to be sent to Kerala.
“We have Dh100 million from the UAE government to give to Indian government. It’s still in our hands,” Mohammad Abdullah Al Haj Al Zarouni, Dubai Branch Manager, Emirates Red Crescent, told Gulf News. “The Emirates Red Crescent also has more than 65 tonnes of garments, medicine and relief material in our warehouse. Our plane is ready. We are just waiting for the Indian government. But our team is working there.”
During the handover of relief material by KGS students, Al Zarouni lauded the children for their generosity.
“The kids always see what their parents are doing. Mothers teach their children to be a helping hand. And they’re learning this in school as well, which is really very good,” he said.
Asha Alexander, the school principal, said KGS has incorporated giving and generosity as part of their curriculum.
“Our school has supported philanthropy for many years. We teach children to be intentional in their giving. Part of this is to find opportunities for them to give,” Alexander told Gulf News.
The school was the only academic institution honoured by Dubai Cares during its 10th anniversary last year for its years of philanthropic work. Together, they built a two-classroom school in Malawi last year. Their next target is a school in Palestine.
“Children are most impressionable at this age. They may forget Maths and whatever we taught them. But they’re not going to forget what they did today. We’re trying to make them global citizens. Children should understand that regardless of boundaries, language, colour, when there is struggle, they can make a difference in the world through their actions,” Alexander said.