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Volunteerism: Paying it forward

Build a school and educate people out of poverty

  • Olga Barcelona (centre) along with the othervolunteers from Dubai.Image Credit: Supplied
  • Volunteers in MalawiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Olga with local communityImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News


Giving back to the community is rewarding and life changing, as attested to by six volunteers from Dubai who went to Africa. Their main objective was to help build a school for a local village community in Malawi. It is one of the goals of buildOn, dnata4good through Dubai Cares. The idea is to educate people out of poverty.

Olga Barcelona, Filipina, who works for Brash, an independent international creative branding agency in Dubai, said: “I learnt about the school trek in Malawi through our partnership with dnata4good. I am very lucky that Brash supported me in this mission. I volunteered because I believe in paying it forward. I live a comfortable life so it’s time to give back to the community.”

There were five other volunteers from dnata, who are Australians, British and Scottish. They stayed in Malawi for seven days in October.

Another volunteer, Guy Murray, a British national, who works in dnata said: “My employer was organising the trip with a local charity called Dubai Cares. I wanted to give something back to people in need as I have had a pretty good life. I wanted to understand how blessed I have been and put that into perspective.”

Barcelona said: “The community was really friendly and they were excited that we were building the school with them. But it was back to basics for us — no electricity, no water (we needed to pump water every day for our drinking water) very basic food. Their houses are not equipped, they don’t have enough clothes. There are 1,000 families in the village and 800 pupils and with only two classrooms.”

Murray said: “We met the nicest people who will be lifelong friends. Large village with local and cultural challenges. They need support for improved farming, house building, education, water purification and storage, clothing. It was a life changing experience. I am more appreciative about life and relationships. More understanding of other people’s challenges.”