Abu Dhabi: Over 1,500 volunteers across the country are taking part in community programmes organised for Ramadan by the Emirates Foundation (EF).
The activities are being run by the EF’s volunteer group Takatof, with the programmes including iftar meals for labourers and families, as well as distributing clothes for needy families. The volunteering initiatives during Ramadan has become one of Takatof’s main annual programmes, and has seen them reach tens of thousands of people within the community with their support.
“Ramadan is a time when people want to do a lot of good things for the community, and so this month is the perfect time to be involved with volunteer work and doing what we can to help the community and to also make them happy,” said Eman Al Darmaki, 31, one of the Emirati volunteering captains for Takatof in Al Ain.
“Like previous years, we are doing many different types of programmes, the main ones being the distribution of clothes to families in need and our iftar programme. For the distribution of the clothes, we did an evaluation before Ramadan to identity the families who were most in need, and we chose 100 families for this initiative. We make sure that all clothes we give away are new and in a good condition,” she added.
“We have received so much clothes thanks to the strong support of our volunteers and members of the community who have contributed, and so we expect to now reach even more than the 100 initial families we had planned for, and that is a great success for us,” she said.
Explaining the iftar programme, Al Darmaki said that volunteers take leftover food from restaurants and distribute the food afterwards as iftar meals.
“We have talked with a lot of restaurants and made an arrangement with them to give us whatever leftover food they have instead of just throwing it away. In Ramadan, a lot of good food is prepared for buffets and usually a lot of it doesn’t get eaten, and so we are doing something beneficial with that food by giving it to labourers and families.
“The iftars are arranged at different places where the workers can easily come and collect it, like near mosques or other points near where they are working. For the families, we go to their homes and give them the iftar package,” she added.
Shaikha Al Hefeiti, 27, another Emirati volunteer captain in Fujairah, said she was glad to put her free time to good use.
“I am unemployed at the moment and so I didn’t want to just waste my time doing nothing sitting in the house. I want to put my energy into doing something good and positive for the community.
“I personally love volunteering, you get to improve a lot of your skills in areas like organising and communication. As a captain, I’m also learning a lot about leadership skills. As a team leader, I am responsible for around 15 other volunteers and so I need to be able to organise them get all our tasks completed. I’m very proud that I was promoted to a team leader this year, because it was only last year I joined the Ramadan programme,” she added.
Al Hefeiti said she has done volunteer work everyday in Ramadan so far, with some days of work going as long as 10 hours.
“I’ve been volunteering everyday, but I don’t mind because I enjoy it and I know I am doing something good. The times also vary depending on each day, the maximum we will work is 10 hours.
“It’s a wonderful experience because you also get the chance to meet new people from so many different nationalities who are also volunteering. It’s really great when you see everyone working together as one for a good cause. Ramadan is a special and holy month for us, and so we need to make the most out of it, and I can’t think of anything better than freely giving your time to help those in need,” she added.