Makeover for your soul - all you need to volunteer in Dubai
Spend an afternoon distributing food to labourers, give a dog a home or donate money to charity. Ramadan is a fantastic time to get involved with any of these UAE initiatives.
CLOWNS WHO CARE
What they do: They run workshops for children and adults with special needs in Dubai at organisations such as the Senses Centre and Al Noor Centre.
How you can help: Volunteers are welcome to join visits to community centres, where they can perform in a show, lead a workshop, or offer a helping hand.
A little goes a long way: If you can’t commit to being in a show, take part in one of Clowns Who Care’s Catch A Smile days. Every month Clowns Who Care come up with a good deed – such as ‘be kind to a neighbour’ – and encourage everybody to perform it on the same day.
FLEA 4 CHARITY
What they do: Luz Villamil and Jihad M’nasria founded Flea 4 Charity in 2011 when they began selling second-hand goods at Dubai’s flea market to raise money for good causes. Today they organise up to seven community projects per year – including distributing iftar meals during Ramadan and Eid goodie bags to labourers, and arranging days out for underprivileged children in Ajman.
How you can help: Flea 4 Charity needs volunteers to lend a hand at fundraising events by selling tickets or acting as ushers.
A little goes a long way: Flea 4 Charity distributes food to fishermen at Masafi in Fujairah and contributions of canned goods or fruit are welcome.
What they do: Run solely by volunteers, K9 Friends works to rescue and rehome stray and abandoned dogs in Dubai. The organisation provides shelter and veterinary care while trying to find each animal a loving new owner.
How you can help: Their chief aim is to find each dog a home for life. But you can also help with fundraising, lend a hand at the kennels, or take up a voluntary administrative post.
A little goes a long way: Not everybody can provide a needy pooch with a permanent home, but K9 Friends also need volunteers for their dog-walking programme. The dogs get their all-important exercise while you experience a little of the joy of owning a pet.
Tel: (04) 8878739. k9friends.com
VOLUNTEER IN UAE
What they do: Set up to act as a bridge between charities and initiatives in need of support and people willing to help, Volunteer In UAE aims to make it easier for would-be volunteers to donate their time, energy and skills to great causes.
How you can help: If you want to give back but don’t know where to start, getting in touch with Volunteer In UAE is a great first step. Registering with the initiative puts you in touch with a whole host of opportunities – recent projects include helping to load up a container bound for the Philippines with clothes, blankets and canned goods to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
A little goes a long way: Volunteer in UAE regularly teams up with the Ministry of Health and Sharjah Blood Bank to stage blood drives. Go along to donate and wrap up your good deed for the day in 30 minutes.
TRADE A FAVOUR
Want to take up yoga? Learn the guitar? Speak Spanish? Well, someone on community website wepul.com may be able to help. What will it cost you? Just a favour in return. Built on the principle ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, Wepul helps us connect with the community, whether that means finding a tennis partner or carrying a neighbour’s shopping. Simply register for free, list something you can contribute, and start browsing the favours.
Suppose you want to learn how to cook Indian food. While normally you might buy a recipe book or go to Google, neither of these things helps us connect with the people around us. On Wepul, you can run a search for ‘Indian cooking’ and see who pops up. Maybe you find Linda, who can cook a mean biryani. So you send Linda a message asking for her help. Linda can check your skills and if there is something you can help her with, the two of you can exchange favours. Maybe you’re a computer whizz kid and Linda wants to brush up her IT skills. She can teach you the art of biryani, and you can give her a crash course in Excel.
Think of it as the notice board in a village shop, but unlike the village shop, with Wepul you can pop in at 3am when you have an urge to learn breakdancing.
Case studies: Two Dubai residents, Danny and Carlo, explain how Wepul changed their lives for the better.
Danny: “I went on to Wepul on a whim to find something new to do at weekends. I found a guy called Carlo, who teaches mixed martial arts. I’m now two weeks into some basic training and I’m loving it. I’ve got a few bruises but I’m getting a great workout, having a bunch of fun and I got to meet Carlo, who’s a thoroughly decent chap. The best part is it didn’t cost me a single dirham as I am using my web design skills to design Carlo’s website.”
Carlo: “I joined Wepul because trading favours seemed like a brilliant idea. When Danny sent me a message asking about martial arts lessons, I noticed that one of his skills was web design. I need a website for my work, so now I am teaching Danny mixed martial arts and he’s designing my website.”