Children stocking a Ramadan sharing fridge with drinks and fruits for the needy. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The ‘Ramadan Sharing Fridges’ are getting popular as initiative has more than 100 fridges registered across Dubai, with more residents joining the cause every day.

The concept behind the initiative is to give back to the community by giving those in need the freedom to have access to food and drinks at any hour of the day especially during iftar and suhoor time.

Registered fridge mangers provide a fridge of any size and capacity outside their home or in an accessible spot in their community. They ensure that donated food and drinks are then stacked into the fridge on a daily basis and that food is handled correctly and distributed.

Dubai resident Anne Mulcahy, a member of the supporting committee said the team consists of six expats who are working together to organise the initiative’s operations, partnerships, social media, and communications.

The initiative, which is licensed under the patronage of the Emirates Red Crescent and Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), started on the first day of Ramadan.

“At the moment, fridge managers contact us to list their fridges on the google map in anticipation of the opening. We encourage volunteers to work together rather than duplicating the number of fridges in the same neighbourhood. Better few fridges full than plenty fridges empty,” said Mulcahy.

Running for the third consecutive year, the initiative requires “a lot of work” and serious commitment for everyone involved.

Mulcahy stressed that the average fridge caters for more than 150 people, and is therefore in need of daily donations.

As observed over the years, the most popular items include fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges, as well as Laban, fruit juices, biscuits, and vegetables. Cooked food and hot meals are not accepted.

“Stop by, spend time to talk to the fridge managers and the workers, a smile and a kind word works wonder and will be much appreciated,” said Mulcahy.

Incorporating a focus on recycling in this year’s initiative, fridge managers are strongly recommended to install a bin close to their fridge to avoid littering in the community.

“It is beyond sharing food and drink with the less fortunate, it is also building communities and sharing a common goal regardless of culture, religion or nationalities. We are all together to say thank you to the workers who make our life in Dubai so nice. We want to share with them and to recognise how important they are to our daily life,” said Mulcahy.

Many fridge mangers taking part this year have been a part of the initiative since 2016.

Rabab Tantawi, fridge manager for the last three years described the experience as “very rewarding.”

“When you witness the impact of a cold bottle of water or a simple pack of biscuits on a worker or a passer-by, the joy it brings is priceless,” she said. Tantawi pointed out the community is also responsive to calls for donations. “The community we are part of makes it easy to host a fridge, you get loads of donations and on days you don’t, a simple message on the group and donations come pouring in,” she added.

The initiative was first started by Summayah Syed, the 31-year old from Australia in 2016.

Syed, who was a Dubai resident then, decided to host a fridge outside her house to distribute food and drinks to workers in the area at iftar time. The founder of the initiative’s Facebook group, ‘Ramadan Sharing Fridges,’ was unaware the idea would be picked up by thousands of residents across the emirate and practised throughout Ramadan years later. The Facebook group has more than 28,000 followers.

How to host a fridge

Victoria Loesch, from the Ramadan Sharing Fridges initiative’s support team explained the steps of becoming a fridge manager.

1. Ask your self — can you commit to the 30 days of Ramadan to keep the fridge stocked and ready?

2. Look at the Ramadan Google map, if there is a fridge in your community, it is often a good idea to team up and help

3. You need to source your own fridge

4. If you live in a building or community, please ensure you have management approval to avoid any issues

4. Register your location and fridge with who can also provide you with any information you need

5. The fridge should not run before the first day of Ramadan. It should be kept clean and be well stocked for all opening times.

6. Enlist your community for help to keep it well stocked with the approved items. Remember, no cooked meals or hot food

A call on schools to participate

From nursery schools to colleges, the Ramadan Sharing Fridges initiative encourages all schools in Dubai to join the cause. Schools can open a fridge on their premises, or can bring their students to help stack a community fridge. College students are also encouraged to ‘adopt’ a fridge and commit to filling it once or twice a week. They can even volunteer their time to be at the fridge and help out fridge managers across the emirate.