When war and natural disaster unfolds in front of us on the television, we often want to do something to make a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by these circumstances. A common way of doing it is to donate in cash or kind to organizations who are working on the ground in these disaster zones.
But there are people who go one step further to make a difference. This story is about them. These individuals from Dubai took the initiative to knock on doors and within weeks raised money or gathered clothes to help out people dealing with crisis in their respective home countries.
Their story is inspiring because it doesn’t take a lot to be in their shoes. Anyone can follow their footsteps, all one needs is the will to make a difference. I tell you who they are and what they did…
Who? Ullash Group, a group of Indian (Bengali) friends
Why did you decide to take the initiative? After seeing the TV grabs of the floods in Uttarkhand we could not sit around and do nothing about it.
What did you collect? We collected Rs 365,000 (Dhs21,778).
How long did it take you to do the collection? One week.
How did you do your collection? We got in touch with friends and colleagues. Amal Banerjee, who is a member of our group, told his colleagues at Ducast Factory LLC about our initiative. Each and every person in that company donated a day’s salary and that helped to increase the collected amount in a big way.
What kind of response did you get? Everyone contributed within their means, no one said no.
How did you ensure it reached the right people? One of us personally handed over the money to Ramakrishna Mission in Kolkata, India. The oganisation is building homes to rehabilitate thousands in Uttarkhand.
What kind of satisfaction did you get out of this? We are a group which is into regular weekend parties, adda (chat) sessions and cultural meets. The satisfaction was in the fact that we could use our friendship and respective relationships to help other people.
Who? Salam Al Amir, Journalist, Jordanian
Why did you decide to take the initiative? I know how cold it gets in Jordan during winter and the thought of Syrians, especially children, weathering it in refugee camps without adequate clothing kept disturbing me. I just thought I had to do something about it and wrote down my intention on my FB status.
What did you collect? Some people gave me cash in order to go shop for warm clothes others gave me blankets and warm clothes. The shops where I bought warm jackets, hats and socks (mainly for children) donated some stuff themselves and other shops gave me real good discounts when they came to know my purpose. In all I had around 10 huge bags filled to the brim.
How long did it take you to do the collection? Less than a week.
How did you do your collection? I went over to people’s homes and offices to pick up the stuff (clothes and money).
What kind of response did you get? It was good. But some of those who responded with much enthusiasm on FB didn’t even get back to me later to coordinate how I could pick up their donations.
How did you ensure it reached the right people? I was going to send it to a close friend in Jordan so that he could deliver it personally. But then I came to know that there are certain procedures and donations had to go through an organizing body. I chose to send them with the Big Heart Campaign, organised by Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah. They are doing an amazing job.
What kind of satisfaction did you get out of it? Frankly, I got very little satisfaction. I feel we should do a lot more but most often can’t because we are so bogged down by life’s responsibilities.
Who? Nerry Azores Toledo, PR Professional, Filipino
Why did you decide to take the initiative? Typhoon Haiyan left an estimated 4.4 million people homeless in the Philippines and I knew that somehow I had to do something to help in my own little way.
What did you collect? We managed to collect 12 boxes of clothing and goods combined.
How long did it take you to do the collection? It took two weeks.
How did you do your collection? People back home needed basic things and I started talking to friends and colleagues if they could donate old clothes. I had some friends who were doing the same, so we joined hands and had a collection drive. Some generous people donated canned food even without knowing how I was going to ship it to the Philippines. Many people came over to my place to drop their stuff.
What kind of response did you get? It was an overwhelming response. I realized the world is full of kind-hearted, well-meaning people.
How did you ensure it reached the right people? During that time, the only way to send donation was through the courier. It was sent to a charity organization in the Philippines that was working on the ground. I also gave some of the collected items to people organizing similar drives from the Filipino community in Dubai so that they could ship it with their collected stuff.
What kind of satisfaction did you get out of it? I sincerely strive to lead a purpose-driven life. In that way my life becomes meaningful.