It’s 7am on a Friday morning but the excited energy of eight-year-old Aditi and Aniruddh Ajith, 5, belies the fact that the siblings are accompanying their parents to workers’ accommodation in an industrial area in Sharjah.
‘I don’t feel sleepy. I like coming here because sharing with others is good and these uncles ask me “what’s your name” and “how old are you”,’ Aniruddh chirps, in between handing out food packages to a line of workers that stretches for a kilometre and only keeps building during the course of next hour. The Ajiths, and eight others, have gathered at this cluster of accommodation as part of a drive conducted by Care2Share, a CSR initiative by Medulla, a Dubai-based CSR consulting company that identifies and supports blue-collar workers in the UAE.
Care2Share’s project manager Roshni Raimalwala is supervising the efficient assembly line of individual volunteers who have come together for this project. It’s an effective, quick operation. The group reaches the location pre-identified by Care2Share, and within minutes trestle tables are set up and cartons of piping hot food that the individuals want to gift to workers are placed on the tables, while other volunteers do crowd control. On this visit, the workers are being gifted a bottle of cooking oil, fruit, bread and samosas.
Mallika Ravi, a 56-year-old spiritual healer, is there to celebrate her father’s birthday by gifting piping hot samosas to the workers that she has had delivered half an hour before. ‘This is usually how I celebrate birthdays in the family. The reaction [of gratitude] that you get from them is more satisfying that throwing a party,’ she says, teary eyed, describing how a ‘thank you’ or good ‘morning’ from them makes her day.
Raja Aiyaa, from Hyderabad, has worked at the accommodation as a watchman for 20 years, and had no words to describe his happiness – only a mellow smile as he brings his palm over his heart. Mohammad Shapon, from Bangladesh, shares ‘the good wishes’, that ‘come automatically from our heart. This is a really good deed, there are lots of poor people here who can’t afford to spend money on all of this [the food and groceries] as they don’t have enough salary.’
Saroj Raut, a 22-year-old Nepali, has seen Care2Share handouts before but never had a chance to come as his work as a garbage collector clashed with handout times. ‘It’s such a nice thing, they’re doing an act of humanity. I earn a salary of Dh1,100 per month and work for eight hours daily. It’s not enough to buy these wonderful things. They’re doing a good deed; of connecting and uniting people, it shows compassion.’
Anowar Hossain is proof that the passion and dedication to volunteer is independent of your financial wherewithal. He’s there to help with crowd control and unload packages. This is the 32-year-old Bangladeshi office boy’s way of contributing because he can’t buy items and gift them to the workers. ‘It’s so rushed – we don’t have time to sit and talk with them but when there’s time they tell us of their hardships; they miss their families because they only go home every two or three years.’ Anowar has been attending Care2Share handouts for four years and intends to volunteer as long as he’s in the UAE: ‘If I miss a Friday because I’m sleepy or I’m busy, I feel bad and think about why I didn’t go.’
How to join a Care2Share drive
Roshni Raimalwala says drives are open to all ages, nationalities and genders. The only qualification is that volunteers be ‘dedicated and patient, along with a genuine concern for making a difference in the society.’ Participants can either choose to come with items they’d like to gift or else they’re also welcome to just lend a helping hand and help distribute the gifts. ‘Perishable items such as food products and non-perishable essential goods are accepted as part of contributions for all our drives,’ Roshni adds. For Ramadan, Care2Share will identify needy camps and help companies organise iftar meals.
Call 04 383 5494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project manager Roshni (in yellow) with volunteers including Mallika (in green) and Anowar (fifth from right); right, Aditi and Aniruddh