Dubai When Anne Mulcahy and a group of other Dubai-based women met at her Meadows 2 residence last Sunday evening, the idea was to take stock of the number of Ramadan fridges that had sprung up in various locations.
Forty five and counting at the time, it was clear the figure was growing by the day, with the “cool” initiative they had launched last Ramadan well on its way for another year of success as it provided convenient, neighbourhood platforms for the community to share free food and drinks with the less fortunate during the month.
As the “happy fridge manager” co-ordinating the communication and PR efforts for the initiative along with fellow expat Sumayyah Sayed, Mulcahy explained how the idea had grown by leaps and bounds since the first fridge was set up by Dubai resident Fikra Yel outside her house many years ago.
The Ramadan fridge initiative, as we know it today, started last year when Sayed placed a fridge outside her home and established a Facebook group for Ramadan 2016.
Mulcahy said, “The FB group was created as a platform to share fridge locations and more importantly ask the community to participate and get involved. It went from a few fridges to over 150 in a matter of weeks with the group having over 23,500 followers today.”
She said, “This year we are fortunate to operate under the umbrella of the Red Crescent in association with Open Arms UAE.”
Those wishing to donate to the Ramadan fridges can look up the location of the fridge nearest to them on the dedicated Google Map on the initiative’s FB page. For example, the closest options so far for those living in Emirates Living are fridges placed outside Springs 14, Street 8, Villa 9; Springs 14, Street 6, Villa 24; Springs 5, Street 1, Villa 11; Springs 1, Street 6, Villa 20; Meadows 2, Street 6, Villa 6 or Meadows 2, Street 13, Villa 6.
Similarly, the confirmed fridge locations in Jumeirah Village Triangle and Jumeirah Village Circle include Lotus Park Townhouses, Villa 9, JVC; Indigo Villa 7 JVC; District 11, Sunset Garden Villa 7, JVC; 5 Mulberry Mansions, District 13, Street 2, JVC and Milestone Supermarket (Inside), JVT and 9E, Villa 26, JVT.
Donors can supply food like fruit and vegetables, juices, water, soda, laban and dried fruit. No hot and/or prepared food, however, is permitted.
Mulcahy said the fridge managers are a dedicated community of volunteers. Besides Yel, Sayed and herself, the other key team members include ‘Instagram lady’ Gaelle Desvignes, ‘sponsorship wizards’ Nadia Sarie and Asmae Lemniei, app lady Janine Bensouda, operational guru Alison Vickery, authority liaison and fridge focal point Anna MacMillan, operational support and Instagram guru Magda Scriabine, distribution queen Zoe Clapp, Google Map and App mistress Safaa Rouissi and Facebook focal point Najia Maqsoot.
Time and effort
Those maintaining the fridges are responsible to clean the fridges and make sure the food placed inside is in portions and is edible. “Fridge managers should be willing to give a lot of time and effort to the community. To make a Ramadan fridge a success, the manager needs to be on site a lot and ensure donations are received and redistributed. They must meet and greet fridge donors and community workers.”
But are there any checks on possible abuse like stealing or selling stuff taken from a fridge?
“This is a grassroots initiative from the community to the community. We encourage people to be sensible and uphold the spirit of sharing,” said Mulcahy.
She said donors should also share a smile and say hello to those they meet at a fridge as it helps foster a community spirit. “Nothing beats a welcoming hello for our community workers and a warm thank you to those who come to donate. Let’s make this Ramadan bigger and more generous than last Ramadan. May our fridges be forever full.”