Volunteers and senior citizens socialised during a walk and boat tour in Yas Bay Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an celebrated the sixth cohort of its Journey of Generations (JOG) programme with a walk and boat tour in Yas Bay in Abu Dhabi.

The latest JOG cohort has set a new landmark for the programme in that it has consisted entirely of volunteers working to support senior citizens rather than NGOs or government entities managing the programme, Ma’an said.

Attended by Salama Alameemi, Ma’an’s director-general, the event marked the success of an initiative that has enhanced interactions between senior citizens, residents, and volunteers since the COVID-19 pandemic. By serving their community, the volunteers have played a positive role that can inspire future programme participants.

A group of 10 volunteer leaders have led the programme this year, and have onboarded a total of 46 volunteers to contribute their time and help enhance the wellbeing of 45 senior citizens. They also helped organise walks, tours, boat rides and National Day celebrations at various venues, including Yas Mall, Hudairiyat Island, Jubail Mangrove Park, the National Aquarium, and Al Forsan International Resort, with the events culminating in Yas Bay.

Each get-together is followed by a talk by specialised volunteers about health and wellness for senior residents Image Credit: Supplied

Encouraging volunteering

Dr Mohamed Al Dhaheri, acting executive director of community engagement and volunteering sector at Ma’an, said JOG represents the authority’s efforts to catalyse real change by supporting senior citizens.

“As part of our effort to build a rich and vibrant network of non-profit organisations, foundations, and social enterprises, we have activated volunteering groups to help serve and support Abu Dhabi’s senior citizens and residents. We would like to encourage more volunteers to work with us to help build cohesive communities, inspire individuals to play an active role in their communities, and encourage personal responsibility,” Al Dhaheri added.

During the boat ride Image Credit: Supplied

Salem Al Breiki, a volunteer leader in the latest JOG cohort, said: “This cohort has been an enriching experience for both me and all our volunteers as it has given us a chance to help integrate and support senior citizens and residents through a range of group activities. Such work helps us to bring our communities together and give people a great opportunity to benefit from the wisdom and life experiences of the seniors. With the increased participants in the programme, the event witnessed a lively interaction between senior citizens and volunteers throughout its run.”

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Gifts galore

JOG volunteers ensured that each session was followed by engaging and informative talks by specialised volunteers on various topics related to the attending seniors’ health and wellness. The volunteers also secured CSR contributions to enhance the seniors experience, including Helping Hands Hospitality to provide refreshments at each walk, a Vox Cinema Hall with snacks for a session of laughter yoga, as well as boat rides, celebratory National Day gifts of gold bracelets for senior women, and Alkhet Alabied gents tailoring for ghutra for senior men.

“Inclusion is vital for our communities and it is our duty to bring all social groups together to support each other. Every generation should have the opportunity to interact and share their experiences and knowledge. It has been a privilege for all our volunteers to help run and ensure the success of these activities for senior citizens and residents. I really hope that more volunteers will join our programme in the future,” added Abeer Saleh Ali, another volunteer leader in the 6th JOG cohort.

Launched in 2019, JOG reflects the directives of the UAE leadership regarding the care of senior citizens and residents, and the importance of building bridges of communication between them and other segments of society. By partnering with other government entities, the private sector, the ‘third sector’, and volunteer groups, Ma’an is committed to integrating and supporting all of the Abu Dhabi community.