Five worthy causes you can support in Dubai this year
Gulf for Good For the coming year, this charitable organisation has decided to focus on education in developing countries, something it describes as ‘a basic human right of all children’, delivering the skills they need to escape the cycle of poverty. Among the causes it will be assisting this year are the Hope Flowers School in Bethlehem, an independent, non-political, co-ed school providing education to refugee and disadvantaged children. It plans to help by organising the Palestine Trail challenge: a hike through Palestine’s remote highlands, green lowlands, wadis and deserts, taking in ancient ruins, Muslim shrines and cliffside monasteries. See the website to find out more about taking part in the trail, donating to someone who is, or other charity challenges taking place this year. www.gulf4good.org.
Manzil A centre for challenged individuals, Manzil not only offers a curriculum education to students up to the age of 16, but it also aims to provide those over the age of 16 with skills to help them integrate into the working world. Through partnerships with UAE firms, Manzil has been able to help students find internships and become empowered and self-reliant. As well as donations to fund the daily running of the centre, a new T-shirt project aims to raise funds for a new school bus, with T-shirts featuring prints of artworks by the school’s students (Dhs50 each). Volunteers are always required for activities such as art, games and songs, as well as assisting teaching and admin staff in a variety of roles. www.manzil.ae (06 534 7663).
Operation Smile This UAE organisation provides free surgery to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe, and relies on generous, skilled volunteers to give up their time to travel to hard-to-reach places around the world and provide this service for a two-week period. To date, the organisation has organised medical missions in a wide range of locations, including Jordan, Morocco, the Philippines, India and China, and 2013 heralds another slew of campaigns in countries including Vietnam, Colombia, Rwanda, Peru, Nepal, Russia and Ethiopia. There are several ways to get involved and offer your support. First, every medical mission needs medical staff, including physicians, nurses, dentists, speech therapists and many more. Second, community volunteers are needed to help run the organisation from Dubai, helping out with everything from admin and IT to presentations and events. Finally, donations are needed to fund the missions, which can be sent by cheque or bank transfer, with details on the organisation’s website. Arabemirates.operationsmile.org.
UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency works all over the world, but one of its current missions is close to the hearts of many living in Dubai. More than half a million refugees have fled the escalating violence in Syria, with an estimated 3,000 crossing the border every day; the agency expects that by the first half of 2013, around a million refugees will need help. So what can you do? There is currently a big push for winter relief items in camps housing the refugees: items such as warming clothing, weather-proofing for tents, thermal blankets and stoves are particularly in demand. This requires funding, and there is a facility to donate directly through the organisation’s website. Depending on what you can afford, you can fund synthetic mats to prevent families from sleeping on the cold ground, thermal fleece blankets, kitchen equipment and family tents for protection from the elements. Donate.unhcr.org/syria.
World Food Programme Operating in the region and the rest of the world to alleviate hunger, the WFP’s current hunger hotspots are Eastern Congo and Syria, and donations to fund its work are needed. Following the calming of fierce fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are now concerns about families who have been uprooted and are returning to neglected crops and ruined homes. Meanwhile, the organisation is providing food assistance to about 1.5 million people in Syria each month. In refugee camps across the country’s borders, the WFP is distributing food vouchers, in-kind food distribution and hot meals. www.wfp.org.