Abu Dhabi: A UAE-based community organisation has become the lifeline for many distressed Indian expats, even as it brings the wider community together at large sociocultural events.
These initiatives by the Indian People’s Forum (IPF), which often involve provision of medical aid and financial relief, are almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions and donations, reflecting the generous nature of the Indian community, IPF president Jitendra Vaidya told Gulf News.
“Our purpose is to foster a peaceful, just and prosperous community. We support welfare activities for workers, and this is done across all emirates, mostly through volunteer contributions,” he noted.
The organisation, which was launched in 2013-2014, became more visible for its efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arranging eight repatriations flights for workers, its volunteers even provided flight tickets when necessary, and supplied medical kits and oxygen concentrators to India. The IPF was also instrumental in settling dues for many who found themselves jobless during the pandemic.
“The last two years have of course presented some of the toughest times for some, so we have had to be especially active. Our volunteers carried out final rites for deceased expats during the pandemic, educated workers on safety and health measures, and even arranged hospital beds for their relatives back home whenever possible,” Vaidya said.
Focus on low-income expats
The organisation organises free medical camps in the UAE, and pays special attention to the needs of low-income workers. Vaidya said these efforts stem from the “humanitarian focus of the Indian government”, and are also inspired by the UAE’s spirit of tolerance. And in order to realise its goals, the IPF works closely with the Indian missions in the UAE.
“We are happy to be an organisation that anyone can call whenever they have the need. We have chapters in every emirate, as well as five state councils so that workers can communicate their needs in any language,” Vaidya explained.
A recent effort organised by the IPF saw the organisation repatriate 170 stranded workers in Khor Fakkan. “Our volunteers helped pay Dh220,000 towards visa penalties, air ticket costs and financial support,” Vaidya said.
When Gulf News highlighted the plight of a widow whose late husband had been an organ donor, the IPF stepped up to coordinate with the Indian Consulate. The 45-year-old widow was then able to clear all her dues, and fly back home to Gujarat, he added.ame forward
Vaidya also pointed to how IPF volunteers to help 300 blue collar workers affected by the recent floods in the eastern region of the UAE under the guidance of the Indian Consulate. “The team put together a generous care kit consisting of essential food items along with bedsheets and clothing,” said Vaidya.
The organisation also hosts a number of celebratory events for the Indian community, including state celebrations like Independence Day, Diwali and Eid.
Most recently, it organised a massive yoga practice to commemorate the International Day of Yoga. Held in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council at Zayed Cricket Stadium, it saw nearly 5,000 participants from a variety of nationalities, including Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE.
“We were delighted to involve so many people in this event, and share the joy and benefits of yoga with people from so many different nationalities,” Vaidya said.
Asked about the total outlay towards charitable initiatives over the past eight years, Vaidya said the organisation does not “believe in counting what is given in support to the needy”.
“Whenever we need, we simply contact the community, and the funds are generously given,” he said
The organisation currently includes 20 people in its core team, apart from a Business Council that boasts major Indian businessmen and investors.
“We are proud to be the first point of contact for low-income workers in the UAE, and will continue expending all efforts to be of assistance. Our 14 verticals, which includes a chapter in every emirate and five state-specific councils, are always accessible, apart from our website that people can use to contact us,” Vaidya stressed.