Dubai: The ‘Ramadan Sharing Fridge’ initiative is back this year with over 100 fridges registered across Dubai communities. Run by a team of 13 expatriates this year, the initiative is operating under the Emirates Red Crescent umbrella.
The idea started last year with a single resident setting up a fridge and distributing food and drink donations to those in need in her community. Soon after, the idea was picked up by thousands of residents across four emirates and practised throughout Ramadan. This year, the initiative, which includes donations from residents and corporations, is licensed to take place in Dubai. The Facebook group ‘Ramadan sharing fridges in the UAE’ has over 25,000 followers. Five schools in Dubai have also joined the 2017 Ramadan Fridges initiative, by installing fridges, with many more participating in supporting initiatives. The schools which have set up a fridge are: Horizon School, Dubai British School, North Anglia International School, Victory Heights Nursery and Mirdif Private School.
Other schools have also set up events where students and their families gather to pack food parcels that are then donated to community Ramadan fridges.
Gulf News spoke to the initiative’s organisers, several fridge managers, and workers benefiting from the Ramadan fridges, about what makes this event so special.
Alison Wade, UK, Dubai resident of 5 years, Jumeirah Village Triangle (JVT)
“This is the second year I am hosting a fridge, and I have learnt a lot about what to do and what not to do.
“We have three fridges in Jumeirah Village Triangle (JVT). I have a huge outdoor shop fridge that I refill 15 to 20 times a day minimum, which costs Dh700 each time.
“I’ve learnt that not all the workers like every food item in the semi-iftar packs we gave out last year, so some items were wasted. This year, all the items are stacked in the fridge for them to choose from, and a sign has been put up saying ‘Please share with your brothers and sisters.”
“Laban is an extremely popular drink, as are fruits, cucumbers, biscuits, and dates.
“The busiest time of the day is between 6pm and 7pm when workers are done with their shift at the construction site and the buses arrive to pick them up.
“My husband and two boys, 9 and 12, help out with restocking the fridge and my sons like to greet the workers and donors who come over to our garage. It is important to give back to the community.
For a lot of workers, it’s not about [the fact that] you are giving them, it’s more about the thought. If I were to be in their situation, I would hope that someone would think of me.”
Zahra Ahmed, UK, Dubai resident of six years, Palm Jumeirah
“This is the second year I am hosting a fridge at the Palm Jumeirah, Golden Mile 7 building, and personally, I fill the fridge up a couple of times a day. I do my own inventory and go shopping once a week to stock up.
We received a fantastic response last year with between 10-15 donations a day. This year, we have had around six donations on the first day and we expect that number to grow. There are a lot of construction workers, cleaners and gardeners, in the area, so a lot of the food is gone in under 10 minutes of being stocked.
“We have workers coming to the fridge all day, and the most popular food at the fridge incudes laban drinks, water, juices, apples, bananas, dates, crisps and biscuits. My friend and I get our children and husbands involved in stocking the fridge and distributing food. It’s a humbling experience.
“Fasting myself and walking to the fridge to stock it up, which is a five-minute walk in the heat, can be strenuous. I can’t begin to imagine how construction workers are doing 12-hour shifts and fasting. “Taking part in this initiative is a way to give something very small back to the community and to help make the month of Ramadan a little bit easier for workers. This is a good way to give back.”
Ayesha Baig, UK, two and a half years in Dubai, Al Furjan community
“We have recently moved into Al Furjan Community, Jebel Ali 1, and it’s the first time we are taking part in the Ramadan Fridge initiative. We keep the fridge in the space outside our house as our community is very close to all sorts of construction work.
“On average, there are around 60 workers in the community. We fill the fridge around 7-8 times a day and we are still going empty at times. The community is very helpful and we are all linked via Al Furjan Community Facebook group.
Often during the day, I post pictures of the community fridge and food that is needed and people are quick to respond. We have about 10-15 donations a day — some small, some big, but everything counts.
Drinks and food items such as fruits, fizzy drinks, water, laban and juices are always the first to go. People have also volunteered on Facebook and messaged me, so we have now set up a WhatsApp group to keep the fridge going.
My children love helping out with stocking the fridge before and after school. Other children from the community also pass by with their parents and stock up the fridge.
To me, this initiative is all about community and reaching out to those who help us in so many ways we don’t realise.”
Do’s and Don’ts during this Ramadan Fridge campaign:
The team of 13 expats organising the event share their advice with residents on contributing to the Ramadan Fridge initiative in Dubai:
1. Donate juices/laban, energy bars, fruits, veggies, snacks, dry fruits and avoid pre-prepared foods as they will not be excepted.
2. Share a smile and a few words of appreciation with our community workers
3. Ring the bell when you donate- our fridge managers will be happy to meet you and thank you.
4. Involve your children, it is one of the main reasons this initiative was founded.
5. Ask permission before taking photos of community workers and fridges.
6. Get in touch with us via our FB group if you need any assistance, we have a team of strong and hardworking women who are super helpful.
7. Find joy in giving, the spiritual satisfaction is worth more than monetary return.
Alison Wade’s two boys, aged 9 and 12, like to help out with restocking the fridge, apart from greeting the workers and donors who come over to the Wade family’s garage.
Want to join the Ramadan Fridge Sharing initiative and host a fridge? Here’s what you can do:
Seek approval from building management.
Contact Ramadan Sharing Fridge group on Facebook.
Information on what is required will be sent to the resident by the group.
Once approved, the location will be added to the fridge location map.