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Abbie Kadom, Founder, Hope-Amel UAE Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Abbie Kadom’s world came tumbling down when she lost her brother Amel in 2017.

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The Canadian expat of Iraqi origin, who lives in Dubai, was a second mother to him. Kadom, her brother and sisters lost their mother when they were very young.

Being the eldest, it became Kadom’s responsibility to be a mother to her siblings.

Kadom’s brother succumbed to an undiagnosed heart condition. Though shattered, Kadom channeled her grief into making a difference.

Three months after Amel’s death, she decided to make a trip to Iraq. “There was an inner voice telling me that I have to do something for people in need of help. So I decided to go there with my son,” she said.

Kadom, who is featured in French expats’ Marie-Jeanne Acquaviva and Olivia Froudkine’s book ‘Dubai Is My Home’, had only Dh5,000.

“I identified three causes — the cancer ward at Baghdad’s Children’s Hospital, two camps for displaced people and the only orphanage in Iraq that takes care of children with special needs,” said Kadom, who is head of human resources (Mena region) at a strategic communications consultancy agency.

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What transpired in Iraq left her overwhelmed.

“I was welcomed everywhere. Donations started pouring in. Perhaps they sensed that I was as broken as those I was trying to help,” Kadom said.

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Kadom launched the support group in July 2020 as the world reeled under the pandemic Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Start of something bigger

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Kadom like many others faced a salary cut. “It was alright for me. I had a roof over my head and I was able to support my son,” she said.

“But I wondered how those who lost jobs were coping.”

This thought inspired Kadom to start a Facebook support group called Hope-Amel UAE in July 2020.

“We are now almost four years old,” Kadom said. “We help mothers all over the UAE with essential baby items such as diapers and baby formula. The aim is to relieve young mothers of their financial burden as much as possible.”

Viral support group

Kadom was unsure if the idea would work when she started the Facebook support group.

“I was not sure how many people used Facebook anymore,” she recalled. “But the support group went viral. Mothers started talking about it and before I knew it, my house was filled with baby items.”

'Hope givers, hope receivers'

“People who come to us for help are called Hope recipients,” she explained. “Those helping are called Hope givers. We do not deal in monetary transactions. We collect diapers, baby formula and pre-loved baby items — anything from a breast pump to a stroller to a crib.”

Till date, Hope-Amel UAE has helped over 12,000 families. “Our goal is to make sure that every mother in need of help gets it,” Kadom said

Why Dubai is special

Kadom said Dubai is the perfect place to start such a community initiative. “We live in the land of plenty. Mothers always have extra baby items lying around. They now give them to us. Our Facebook page is filled with messages from mothers living across UAE who all want to share. We are so grateful,” she said.

The Canadian expat believes in Dubai’s community spirit. “I could never have started Hope-Amel anywhere else in the world. Dubai is a city where everyone loves to give. There could not be a better city to start a community initiative of love and giving,” she said.