In honour of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service to the world on July 18 spare an hour or so for a good cause.
Nelson Mandela was famed for his compassion, diplomacy and moreover, his efforts towards putting an end to apartheid in South Africa. For 67 years, Mandela dedicated his life to these causes and in November 2009 the UN General Assembly declared July 18 (Mandela’s birthday), Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of his contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. This year, Mandela would have turned 96 years old, and to mark the occasion, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is calling on people around the world to devote 67 minutes of time to helping others.
The leader himself once said: ‘Our human compassion binds us to the other – not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.’ With that in mind, explore some ways to make those 67 compassionate minutes count in Dubai.
Start at home
You don’t have to go too far to find a compassionate cause. Spend an hour (or more) with your family and friends, turn off your phone and the TV and make time today to really listen to the concerns of your nearest and dearest. You could also follow the lead of Dubai expat Fikra Yel and her family in The Springs, who have left a fridge stocked with water outside of their home and will leave it there for the thirsty domestic workers during Ramadan evenings. And they are encouraging people in their neighbourhood to donate any leftovers to low-paid workers. You could try to set up a similar initiative in your community. The Mandela Day website has also put together 67 suggestions and ideas for individuals, families and corporations including reading over someone’s CV, mentoring and helping them get a better job, showing an elderly person how to get familiar with the internet or donating books to a library or community centre.
Care for older animals
Many pets end up on the streets when owners leave or decide they no longer want them. The Dubai Senior Dog Project specifically helps find homes for older dogs who may be a little bit long in the tooth but still have plenty of love to offer a caring family. If you’re more partial to felines, check out The Bin Kitty Collective – this team of volunteers offers advice to cat owners and members of the public who find strays. They also rescue and rehouse cats that have been abandoned. Both organisations are in need of volunteers and people to provide a permanent home to these animals.
www.facebook.com/dubaiseniordog project. Search Bin Kitty Collective on Facebook.
In under an hour you can donate a pint of blood. Just one pint can save someone’s life and you won’t even miss it. The Dubai Blood Donation Centre (DBDC) based in Al Wasl Hospital in Oud Metha collects 150 units of blood a day, and in Dubai nearly 35 blood drives are held every month at locations around the emirate to meet the daily needs of blood. Not everyone can give blood for religious, cultural and health reasons (particularly during Ramadan) but those that can are able to donate every 90 days in a process that takes less than an hour.
www.dha.gov.ae (04 219 3221).
Donate to Dubai Cares
This philanthropic organisation works to improve the education of children in developing countries, and this Ramadan it has launched the ‘What if’ campaign, asking residents to consider the realities of life for children who are underprivileged and uneducated. The charity has a host of smart and convenient ways to get involved and donate to the cause, including partnerships with outlets such as Circle K where a percentage of proceeds from all coffee sales are donated to Dubai Cares. You can also round up your lunch bill there and donate the change. Alternatively, donate by texting ‘donation’ to 9030, 9090, 9300, 9600 or 9900 to donate Dhs30, Dhs90, Dhs300, Dhs600 or Dhs900 respectively through Etisalat.
www.dubaicares.ae (04 450 4550).
Consider more carefully the places where you spend a lot of your money and choose shops, boutiques and products that support a variety of charitable organisations such as Palestyle (www.palestyle.com). The online fashion boutique sells hand-made bags and employs Palestinian refugees giving them a skill and a salary. And if you’re having a clean-out at home, or in the office, consider donating items to the Dubai Centre for Special Needs. Its thrift shop sells second-hand clothes and household goods to raise money for equipment needed by the centre.
Sheikh Zayed Road, near Safa Park, behind Choitrams, www.dcsneeds.ae (04 344 0966).
For information about Nelson Mandela Day, visit www.mandeladay.com.