Volunteers from all backgrounds joined hands for the initiative Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dubai: Hundreds of volunteers from across the UAE on Saturday spent their weekend packing thousands of boxes containing various food items, hygiene kits and other essential items for immediate distribution to families affected by the ongoing crisis brought about by floods in Pakistan.

As part of this initiative, 1,200 tonnes of food, health and general hygiene items have been supplied, including 30,000 food kits.On Saturday, a section of Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) at Expo City Dubai was turned into an operations centre, where volunteers organised by Dubai Cares repacked tonnes of flour, rice, lentils, cooking oil, milk, tea and other non-perishable items such as toiletries for women and children, including diapers, sanitary napkins and soaps amongst others.

‘We Stand Together’

The same scenario was repeated at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Expo Centre as volunteers answered the call for ‘We Stand Together’, an initiative was launched by Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), Dubai Cares and Sharjah Charity International, in close coordination with the Ministry of Community Development (MoCD) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), with the support of nine other UAE humanitarian organisations, including Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment, The Big Heart Foundation, Dar Al Ber, International Humanitarian City, UAE Water Aid Foundation (Suqia UAE), Sharjah Charity House, International Charity Organisation and Emirates Charitable Association.

A section of Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo City Dubai was turned into an operations centre Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Unity of the UAE

ERC secretary-general Hamoud Abdullah Al Junaibi praised the role of volunteers and also acknowledged the humanitarian organisations. He said: “The coalition embodies the unity of the UAE humanitarian work and construes the value of partnerships in one of the most important areas related to improving life and alleviating the suffering of victims caused by disasters and crises.”

The relief aid will be flown to Pakistan on an air bridge set up by UAE Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dr Tariq Al Gurg, CEO and vice chairman of Dubai Cares, said: “The UAE has a long history of supporting countries in crisis and the resounding success of the We Stand Together nationwide volunteering initiative is a clear reflection of the country’s humanitarian values.”

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Dr Tariq Al Gurg Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

He added: “The coming together of hundreds of volunteers of all ages and nationalities and from all parts of the country to support Pakistan during this time, highlights the deep-rooted culture of generosity and compassion that the UAE community proudly shares. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers for committing their time and efforts to this initiative and turning it into another UAE success story.”

An overview of the volunteers at work Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Synergy of people

Abdullah Sultan Bin Khadim, CEO of Sharjah Charity International, said: “Praise be to God for the success of the ‘We Stand Together’ initiative that embodies the synergy of people from all walks of life. We worked hand in hand with a spirit of giving back that is deeply rooted in the wider UAE community.”

Two British expats – Katie Bingle, 28, and Jasmin Spinks, 27 – told Gulf News they’re happy doing volunteer work. “We live in Dubai and knowing that we are able to help those who were affected by the devastating flood in Pakistan feels rewarding. What better way to spend a Saturday to come and help,” they added.

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Katie Bingle (left) and Jasmin Spinks Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

French national Florence Roghe also felt inspired and praised the positive spirit of the volunteers and organsiers.

'Stay strong, Pakistan'

Young children also came to help and send out positive messages. They made colourful drawings and messages such as “Every cloud has a silver lining. This means that there’s always hope”, “We are here to help you; we are in this together”, “Sending you a sea monster as part of the rescue mission. Good luck and stay safe Pakistan”, and “I know that we will get through this together”.

Children's messages of solidarity and hope for the flood victims will accompany the boxes Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Those messages were placed inside the relief kits that will be sent to affected families in Pakistan. The volunteers knew immediate help was needed and they came not only to provide relief but also to give hope.

Pakistani girl Zahra Zakiuddin, 11, who came with her parents and younger brother, she drew a picture of sunflowers and wrote in Urdu: “Pakistan, hum aap ke saath hein. Himmat rakho, Pakistan [Pakistan, we are with you. Stay strong, Pakistan]”.