Dubai: A 34-year-old Indian expat, who began volunteering for community services in the UAE in his 20s, and is now set to relocate to another country, has expressed his gratitude for the opportunities he got to help those in distress.
Deepak Thomas, among the few expats of his age group to devote time and effort for volunteering, was given a warm farewell by the expat community in recognition of his services over 10 years, when he “quietly helped people in distress”.
From mentally unstable and distressed youth and stranded residents to jobless expats and financially constrained families, Thomas had helped transform the lives of several people, community members said.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I received to help those in need. I am thankful to the officials and the senior social workers under whose guidance I could extend help to people in distress,” Thomas told Gulf News.
“More youngsters should do voluntary service. Most expat social workers and community volunteers in the UAE are above 50,” he said, adding that community service not only helps those in need but also provides immense satisfaction to those who serve.
“Doing charity is not just about donating money, food or old clothes. It is about spending your time, talent and efforts for giving a helping hand to others,” said Thomas, a civil engineer hailing from Kerala in India.
Thomas is also credited with encouraging people who have been through a difficult situation in life to provide volunteering and counselling services.
“We need to motivate children with charity tasks. They can build a blood group-based directory and keep a list of approved charity associations and their provisions. All should be made aware of procedures to follow in hospitals for charity support.”
Thanks and tributes
A project manager with a Dubai-based company, Thomas was showered with thanks and tributes for his community service ahead of his migration to the UK.
A virtual farewell event was specially organised by a group of social workers and community volunteers from the UAE and India for Thomas this week.
C.P Mathew from the volunteering group Valley of Love (VoL) said: “Despite his busy corporate life, he and his wife Lynn Raju spent all their spare time in community and voluntary service, proving that no matter how busy we are with our jobs, we can still find time to share our talents to help others and bring them happiness. He is a wonderful example of the younger generation of community volunteers in the country. I am certain that he will continue this community work in his new life and we wish him all success and happiness.”
Senior community volunteer, Garth Mitchell, said: “Noble souls like Deepak will be valued wherever they go. His departure might seem like a loss to the UAE, but I am certain his deeds have inspired all of us to continue to support the government in voluntary work.”
Deepa Kiron, who had worked with Deepak for a free repatriation project during the pandemic, said: “The free repatriation project was in full swing during the peak of COVID lockdowns. Within a few days, we were all convinced at the pace at which Deepak had organised the database of the numerous requests impeccably.”
She recollected how Thomas handled a medically unfit person’s repatriation with utmost care and concern.
Another volunteer, Elizabeth Kuruvilla, said she first got to know Thomas during the pandemic. “He struck me as somebody with a lot of energy, putting his technical skills to good use for a wonderful cause, never saying ‘no’ to any request.”
Among the participants were a few beneficiaries of Thomas’ community service as well. S.M., whose family received help from the community and authorities through Thomas and other volunteers, said: “A few years ago, when we didn’t have proper documentation to attend school like others, brother Deepak and some volunteers came to us like a blessing. They gave us all the resources to regularise our stay and get an education. And now, because of their encouragement, motivation and involvement in educating us, we have passed our 10th and 12th level education successfully. Now we are gearing up for further higher studies.”