Volunteers give back to Dubai labourers
Group in 100th labour camp handout
When you earn little more than Dhs1,500 per month, share a room with seven others and get one day off per week, the kindness of strangers can take you by surprise.
That was according to one of the 3,000 construction labourers who were handed foods, drinks and clothes in the 100th Feed a Labourer community drive on Friday.
Every week for almost two years, Inder Bhagnani, 29, and family and friends have been handing out essentials to workers who send almost all of their money home.
Darshan Ram Singh, 56, from India, was among the labourers at the camp in Dubai’s Al Khail area. He said: “The facilities here are not always comfortable, it gets too hot, the buses don’t come on time and we often have to wait in the heat.
“Between that and little things like leave not getting approved and missing our families means there is not much happiness to go on for people like us.
“But when someone comes to our home and gives us things we really need, this makes me really happy. No one has ever done something like this for me before and today I am going to have a good day, I feel very happy.”
For 33-year-old Bangladeshi, Mohammed Asadur Rahman, the distributed items will last him months.
Inside the bag is toothpaste, hair oil, washing powder, soap, biscuits, chips, laban up, energy drinks and 1.5kg of rice.
He said: “Although these items are little, they will last us for a very long period. And rice is my favourite, I will cook it for dinner tonight. I hope people continue helping us.”
Toufiq Abbas, 24, from Pakistan, added: “We feel really good that there are people in the community who are trying to help us.
“We are poor people and the fact that we have wellwishers, people who we have never even met us and are thinking about us, makes us feel good.
“Even if it is the smallest of things they are giving, it keeps us happy throughout the day.”
Bhagnani and the people he works with every week gather supplies by convincing firms to donate food or t-shirts, for example.
Then he and family and friends spend their time packing bags for thousands of labourers.
He said: “When we held a distribution in the Al Barsha camp, an engineer came to me and said he wishes we would come every day.
“On Saturdays, which is the day we usually visit, the labourers keep peeping out to see whether a pick-up truck with the goodies has arrived.
“Even if it is just laban that we are distributing, they look forward to it.
“I visited the camp earlier and spoke to the labourers asking them what are their basic needs, things they cannot afford to buy and what we could bring for them, and these are the basics they said they needed.”
Although Al Khail is home to 2,864 workers, neighbouring camp residents joined the queues. “We got 3,000 in case people came from other camps - we do not want anyone to be left out,” said Bhagnani.
GIVEAWAY: Volunteers from Feed the Labourers hand out bags to Al Khail camp workers