Like the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic affected more than just health. The unexpected virus brought along a wave of other issues, including grounded flights, disruption in education, job losses and various other finance-related issues. The situation has further taken away an individual's ability to obtain basic necessities for themselves and their families, leaving them in limbo until the day health concerns are eliminated.
Aiding those in need are several unsung heroes across the UAE. Non-profit organisations and volunteers have taken upon a mammoth task of addressing the needs of residents and reaching out to them through government-approved programmes and initiatives.
The assistance provided by establishments and individuals know no bounds, as they collectively extend aid to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. From providing essentials that cover personal hygiene, to bundles of simple ingredients for hearty meals, each platform offers a variety of programmes for ordinary residents to connect and get involved. Aligned with the laws and regulations of the UAE, they aim to build a long-term community of warm-hearted volunteers for a good cause while providing relief to those affected.
Reach out to one of these notable platforms to make a difference in someone's life.
As the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic put many people in physical and financial difficulty, the Dar Al Ber society has rallied to provide aid for those in need in the UAE. Established 42 years ago in the emirates as a charitable society for public benefit, the society was initially set up to educate people on UAE culture and religion but has since branched out to include helping people who have been adversely affected by Covid-19. The members of the organisation have been selected by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and the Ruler of Dubai. The society recently launched "Vying To Do Good", an initiative targeted to provide Dh100 million to support and care for the humanitarian cases and charitable projects that have been started to support those in need during the pandemic.
The Dar Al Ber society also contributed to the provision of 14 million meals launched by Sheikh Mohammed. This contribution along with those of the founding Emirati members of the society saw the donation of eleven ambulances and state of the art medical equipment valued at Dh 12 million in support of the preventive measures against Covid-19.
Helpline for the affected
To enable locals and residents to be able to contribute to the Covid-19 cause, the Dar Al Ber society has set up a remote donation initiative to protect public health and safety without the need for donors to visit its centres and offices. This was established in line with government directives and allows people to make a donation through the website, by downloading the app or calling the toll free number. Alternatively, people can visit the Dar Al Ber society offices in Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah to make a contribution in lines with the government's directive of social distancing. The society also announced its donation of Dh7 million in support of the efforts of the UAE and its programmes to provide the necessary equipment and supplies to various sectors, according to the decisions of the competent authorities to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Feed-a-Labour strives to raise awareness of the UAE's hardworking and dedicated labourers, and encourage residents to show gratitude through the community programme. Inder Bhagnani, Founder of Feed-a-Labour, talks about its inception and Covid challenges.
"Extending help to others is deeply embedded in me, thanks to my parents and grandmother, who made us understand that blessed are those who had the opportunity of helping others."
He adds that as someone who has been in business for more than 10 years, hehas come across people in different walks of life. "One afternoon when I was eating in a cafeteria, I noticed a labourer cancelling his order for a sandwich and opted for a cup of tea instead. Curious, I asked him why and he said the Dh4 he had would last him four days if he just drank tea. I'd bought him a meal that day, which made him happy. This simple gesture felt rewarding to me and made me realise how much it mattered to someone who is often unnoticed but continues to work hard for the country and their families."
This inspired Bhagnani to launch the Feed-a-Labour (FAL) campaign, which initially involved family and friends. Now in its sixth year, the programme is supported by numerous volunteers that go to various construction sites every Saturday and distribute products. It is also officially registered with the Community Development Authority.
Prior to Covid-19, volunteers would load up self-purchased items - non-perishable and immediate consumption goods - into their cars and gather at permitted construction sites to distribute them every Saturday. Acceptable items include beverages such as Laban-Up, fruits, vegetables, biscuits, toiletries like soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.
This unprecedented Covid-19 situation may have changed the way FAL does things, but hasn't affected its mission. "While adhering to the UAE's regulations on social distancing, this has opened up channels for people to extend their participation remotely," Bhagnani added.
Stop and Help DXB
Care boxes for families
Identifying the need of the hour that many are unable to afford groceries, Stop and Help DXB was formed to help those affected by the global pandemic gain access to basic needs. "We want to share love and understanding across cultures and solve our problems as one community, together," said founder Heather Harris.
The volunteer-run community delivers essentials to a family's door within a week of them reaching out through a form on their website, and since April 1, has helped over 2,000 families across Dubai. Residents can also take part in the initiative by signing up to send a one-off care box or support a family for four weeks. The care packages contain necessities such as grain, canned goods, cooking oil, long-life milk, sugar, baby items such as milk formula and nappies, as well as basic hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and detergent.
Food banks for everyone
Makemymeal.ae, an online tiffin service that connects UAE residents to over 300 restaurants across the UAE with meals reminiscent of home, is in collaboration with the UAE Food Bank to feed thousands of underprivileged families. To date, the programme has donated around 50,000 meal boxes to the labour camps.
"We're on a mission to help feed thousands of families. We have also teamed up with the UAE Food Bank to create a 'Gift a Meal' initiative for them. For Dh49, one can ensure that someone has meals for seven days. You can visit the website and select the 'Donate' button to help people who are going through thesetough times by ensuring they get a healthy and nutritious meal," said Supriya Sharma, product marketing manager of makemymeal.ae.
Once the meals are delivered, an e-mail is sent to each contributors to let them know that the meals have been delivered to those in need.
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