Vol­un­teers give back to Dubai labour­ers

Group in 100th labour camp handout

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan @Ma­hakLFC ma­hak@7days.ae

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

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