Two weeks ago, Time Out profiled a number of local organisations collecting unwanted clothes, books and accessories; goods that were distributed to the less fortunate or sold at charity sales and flea markets to raise money for good causes. But such initiatives seem to be limited to Ramadan, making it very difficult to donate clothing for a good cause.
The reason for this is complex, but some time ago legislation was passed in the UAE prohibiting second-hand clothing from being donated internationally. This effectively made the concept of collecting clothing for poorer nations redundant. However, times are changing, and this September heralds a new era in Dubai-based charity. Local group Aid in Motion is now accepting everything from second-hand clothing and cutlery to bed linen and books, all for disctribution among UAE-based labourers.
Aid in Motion first came about in 2009, following the Pakistan earthquake and Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines. But in spite of the huge amount of clothing collected (12 tonnes and 18 tonnes respectively), the aforementioned legislation saw the efforts of the volunteers come to nothing.
Luckily, Aid in Motion has now managed to rekindle its good intentions thanks to volunteer Sophia Bhatti, licensed with the Dubai Charity Association. Sophia had originally been distributing second-hand clothing in Sharjah labour camps and faced similar problems to those encountered by Aid in Motion all those years ago. She also needed the volunteers and the resources that Aid in Motion has at its disposal to help continue her distributions. In short, it was a match made in heaven. Aid in Motion needed a licensed beneficiary for the clothing it collected, and Sophia needed a suitable operational plan.
Aid in Motion is different from many of the other clothing collection campaigns in Dubai in that it does not make money from the scheme (some of the organisations that gather unwanted clothes through collection skips in the city sell the clothes for a profit). The latest Aid in Motion scheme operates though individuals known as ‘Area Collection Representatives’, who can be contacted 24 hours a day by anyone wanting to donate.
One such volunteer is Lynda Gaenssler, who got involved through the Volunteers in Dubai Facebook page. ‘I’d been looking for a way to help for some time and, after finding the Facebook page, I had a meeting with other volunteers. It’s been a bit slow, but we’ve got over our teething problems and I think interest will pick up once the schools start again for September.’
Volunteers such as Lynda are effectively the face of the scheme, as well as acting as quality control – checking that all the donations are in good enough condition to be used again. So far, so good, and Lynda has been encouraged by the number of new clothes – complete with price tags – that have been donated. The volunteers then pack the donations into Aramex transportation bags, which are distributed at mosques for migrant labourers to pick and choose what they want to send to their families back home. It seems that charity in Dubai has just gained new momentum.
To donate, call the 24-hour hotline on 06 503 4535. Operators will put you in touch with you nearest Area Collection Representatives to arrange a collection time. For further details, see the Aid in Motion Facebook page
What to donate
• Clothing (adult, child and infant), plus shoes, socks and underwear (the latter must be new)
• Accessories, including belts, hairbands and jewellery
• Cutlery, plus melamine or plastic plates and glasses
• Tupperware-style storage boxes
• Bed linen and towels
• Mobile phones (functional, preferably with charger)
• Small soft toys
• Books, CDs, DVDs and video cassettes
• Dubai Marina
• The Greens
• Arabian Ranches, Motor City, Sports City and Studio City
• Downtown Dubai
• Jumeirah 2/Safa 2/Umm Suqeim 2
• Discovery Gardens
• Bur Dubai