Vol­un­teers give back to labour­ers

Vol­un­teers mark 100 weeks of help­ing labour­ers

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - For con­tri­bu­tions and more in­for­ma­tion, see Face­book.com/groups/feedal­a­bor

Fri­day will be a spe­cial day for In­der Bhag­nani, but not be­cause it’s his birth­day or an­niver­sary. This week­end marks the 100th week of his self­s­tarted project, Feed A Labour, when he and some friends will be giv­ing out food, cloth­ing and other es­sen­tials to Dubai’s labour­ers.

It all started on a typ­i­cal day two years ago; In­der was just sit­ting in a café hav­ing a meal. He ex­plains: “I no­ticed a labourer walk in to buy a sand­wich. How­ever, he seemed to be hes­i­tat­ing, and af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion de­cided to opt for a cup of tea in­stead. I no­ticed this and de­cided to ques­tion why he chose to get a cup of tea when he clearly had the money.

“His re­ply was sim­ple: ‘I had to choose be­tween one sand­wich or five cups of tea for the day. The choice was easy’. I de­cided to pay for his meal and left. “The next day, the same sit­u­a­tion oc­curred. I de­cided to pay again. Over the next few weeks I started pay­ing for meals for his friends too. This even­tu­ally ex­panded into what we are now.” For the first six months, it was just In­der. He was then joined by friends RJ Prince and MR Dilip, and the trio grew into a group of vol­un­teers that now dis­trib­utes hot meals of biryani, la­ban and bis­cuits to at least 300 labour­ers on dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion sites in Bar­sha, Bur Dubai or Busi­ness Bay ev­ery Satur­day. They have also pro­vided shirts and tow­els, and in­stalled four water cool­ers at a labour camp in Al Quoz. “Some­times when we get more peo­ple, we put rice, tooth­paste, hair oil, etc in the pack­ages. We usu­ally go to the sites dur­ing their break time,” says the 29-year-old In­dian na­tional. “Be­ing in the real es­tate in­dus­try, I have seen their hard work and they are un­ap­pre­ci­ated. Spend­ing ev­ery Satur­day with them makes me want to do this for more peo­ple.”

The group doesn’t col­lect cash, but ac­cepts con­tri­bu­tions and peo­ple’s spare time in­stead. In­der ex­plains: “Those who want to help can bring prod­ucts. If they would like to con­trib­ute, they can fol­low us on Face­book to know the next camp we feed, so they can come and sup­port with food or just be a vol­un­teer.” Com­pa­nies such as Tif­fany and Safeer Group, and some schools, have also ex­tended their help to the ini­tia­tive.

To mark the 100th mile­stone, a group of 30-40 vol­un­teers will be pro­vid­ing for 3,000 labour­ers at a camp in Al Khail on Fri­day.

In­der says: “Ev­ery week­end they wait for us and that keeps us go­ing. Fam­i­lies, chil­dren and dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties have taken part in the cam­paign, and thanks to their sup­port we have done more for the labour­ers.”

In­der says they plan to con­tinue this lit­tle project as long as they can: “We want them to know we are here to sup­port and we ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery bit of hard work they do. They are the real men be­hind all the lux­ury. Hav­ing said that, the gov­ern­ment has al­ways been very sup­port­ive as well, but we as in­di­vid­u­als would like to make a dif­fer­ence in their lives even if it’s just once a week.” glaiza@7days.ae

TEAM­WORK: In­der (white shirt) and friends help­ing out NEXT IN LINE: The Feed A Labour group will mark their 100th week of dis­tribut­ing meal packs this Fri­day #FeedALabour

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