AL­TRU­IS­TIC JOUR­NEY

In a se­ries of col­umns this Ra­madan, Shaikha Shamma Bint Sul­tan Bin Khal­ifa Al Nahyan opens up about her per­sonal con­nec­tion to char­ity work, and how we can all make a dif­fer­ence this month

Friday - - Contents -

Shaikha Shamma Bint Sul­tan Bin Khal­ifa Al Nahyan writes an ex­clu­sive col­umn on vol­un­teer­ing.

Two weeks of Ra­madan have gone by swiftly; we have had the chance to get im­mersed in the Ra­madan spirit and, of course, for those of you that have suc­cess­fully ac­knowl­edged and changed your habits for the bet­ter, that’s an achieve­ment in it­self. We are all works in progress, so keep do­ing good and try­ing to im­prove your­self. This col­umn fol­lows on from what I wrote about self-re­flec­tion last week, and will take a deeper look into two as­pects that are key el­e­ments of your al­tru­is­tic jour­ney – time and vol­un­teerism.

I hope you have all had the time to as­sess your­selves hon­estly. It’s now time to weigh up what you plan to do in light of Ra­madan timings, your en­ergy lev­els and com­mit­ments dur­ing the sec­ond half of this spir­i­tual month.

Time is some­thing that we of­ten take for granted, as ev­ery sec­ond of our lives ticks away with­out us be­ing able to press a pause but­ton. Con­sid­er­ing that our time is some­what lim­ited, we should en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that make us happy and that con­trib­ute to our well-be­ing.

Time is one of the best gifts you can give, not only to those in need or to char­i­ties, but to any­one, whether it be a friend, fam­ily mem­ber or a stranger.

So, this brings me to the con­cept of the al­tru­is­tic jour­ney of vol­un­teer­ing. In giv­ing your time to a cause, keep in mind the words of wis­dom of Greek fab­u­list Ae­sop. ‘No act of kind­ness, no mat­ter how small, is ever wasted.’ It is not about count­ing the hours you put in, but liv­ing ev­ery mo­ment and find­ing en­rich­ment in the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Vol­un­teerism is the time you do­nate to a cause, an event or a char­ity. De­pend­ing on the ini­tia­tive you’re work­ing with, some do re­quire a min­i­mum com­mit­ment, so be up­front about how much time you’re able to give.

With ‘Wanna Read?’, an ini­tia­tive I founded and am ac­tively in­volved with, we cre­ate stim­u­lat­ing and en­rich­ing en­vi­ron­ments for chil­dren in hos­pi­tal by pro­vid­ing them with books. Chil­dren usu­ally as­so­ciate the hos­pi­tal en­vi­ron­ment with pain, anx­i­ety and bore­dom, some­times mak­ing treat­ment dif­fi­cult for health­care prac­ti­tion­ers.

Gabrielle O’Kane, our head vol­un­teer at ‘Wanna Read?’, who is a nurse by pro­fes­sion but hasn’t been work­ing in her field since ar­riv­ing in Abu Dhabi, has been an in­te­gral part of our team, al­low­ing for mem­bers of our com­mu­nity to read to the chil­dren in hos­pi­tals. ‘It makes me feel good that I’ve been able to help some­body else when they are not feel­ing their best,’ she tells me.

Bea­con of Hope, another of my ini­tia­tives, de­liv­ers so­lar light kits to chil­dren in eco­nom­i­cally and so­cially chal­lenged re­gions that lack ba­sic ac­cess to light. These kits come unassem­bled, and there­fore we are em­pow­er­ing young peo­ple to build their own cir­cuits – a les­son in a box. We also work with chil­dren in the UAE, in­tro­duc­ing them to the con­cepts of youth phi­lan­thropy, re­new­able en­ergy and en­ergy poverty. These chil­dren pur­chase a light that they con­struct and then do­nate back to Bea­con of Hope for us to take on our mis­sions. We have re­cently col­lab­o­rated with Dubai Cares’ Read­ing Na­tion and for ev­ery light, they give us a book that will go to an un­der­priv­i­leged child. Our be­lief is that light and lit­er­acy bring hope.

Last week, a new plat­form was launched called Vol­un­teers.ae. This on­line plat­form was cre­ated to fa­cil­i­tate vol­un­teerism across the UAE in 14 ar­eas of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. You can reg­is­ter as an in­di­vid­ual or as a group work­ing within an or­gan­i­sa­tion.

There are many so­cial and hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions in the UAE that need help­ing hands to ful­fil their mis­sions. This is not only about help­ing those in need; the im­pact it can have on the vol­un­teer is im­mea­sur­able.

Some of the ben­e­fits in­clude learn­ing new skills, meet­ing like-minded peo­ple and ex­plor­ing new ca­reer paths. It also gives you con­fi­dence and a pur­pose in life. Most im­por­tantly, giv­ing back to your com­mu­nity is some­thing that cre­ates so­cial co­he­sion.

One so­cial ini­tia­tive that has gained a lot of mo­men­tum dur­ing this holy month is Ra­madan Aman. You may have seen groups of vol­un­teers around the city’s streets with blue boxes con­tain­ing food, which are given

Con­sid­er­ing that our time is LIM­ITED, we should en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that make us HAPPY and that con­trib­ute to our well-be­ing. Time is one of the best GIFTS you can give, to a friend, fam­ily or a STRANGER

to driv­ers dur­ing the time of iftar. Sta­tis­tics have shown an in­crease in car ac­ci­dents dur­ing that time, with driv­ers rush­ing to get home to eat. This ini­tia­tive ac­knowl­edges the value of hu­man life by tar­get­ing the sim­ple is­sue of driv­ers ig­nor­ing safety on the roads in or­der to ar­rive at home in time for iftar. There are many other ini­tia­tives out there that need your help, es­pe­cially dur­ing Ra­madan. You can reg­is­ter on­line with the new vol­un­teer­ing plat­form or look for a cause that you feel that you can get in­volved with. Be part of this al­tru­is­tic jour­ney and take a more ac­tive role in your com­mu­nity by mak­ing a gift of your time and your skills in the place in which you live. Find out more at sheikhashamma.ae. Turn to page 26 to know how you can vol­un­teer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.