DUBAI // A new volunteering centre is hoping to connect Emiratis and expats with the community.
The Dubai Volunteering Centre in Al Khawaneej, run by the Community Development Authority (CDA), was officially opened yesterday.
Staff will recruit and train volunteers and link them to activities.
“Volunteers can be any person, regardless of the job he has or the skills he has,” said Khaled Al Kamda, the CDA director general. “It is about having the time and giving back to the community.”
The CDA started offering volunteering opportunities in 2009 and has more than 1,000 registered volunteers.
“I am a volunteer to represent our country,” said Issa Al Badwawy, 26, a Dubai Police employee who manages a team of 500 volunteers in Hatta.
The CDA community service initiatives include Weleef, which provides care and companionship to the elderly; and Honour Labour, which provides classes, activities and entertainment for labourers.
The Dubai Volunteering Centre will connect volunteers to CDA initiatives as well as to activities run by other government bodies, non-governmental organisations and private companies.
“We have a lot of volunteers here – local and non-local,” said Ahmad Al Bakhit, manager of the CDA’s volunteers affairs section.
“They’re doing a really good job ... this centre will be their support here in Dubai.”
“We needed a unit that is the focal point for volunteering work,” Mr Al Kamda said. “There are different groups of volunteers, but there is no governing body for protecting the volunteers and ensuring that their work is counted.”
Manea Al Kendi, 27, from Dubai, began volunteering with the CDA three years ago to pass the time after work. He enjoys meeting people from different communities and nationalities, he said: “This gives us social cohesion.”
Volunteering also helped develop his skills, Mr Al Kendi said.
“Even my personality has changed,” he said. “Maybe before it wasn’t so simple for me to speak before a huge group of people. Now, you give me the number, I can speak confidently.”
Mr Al Kendi said the CDA initiative, “Your home ... Our home”, was a particularly rewarding programme. Volunteers help renovate the homes of needy Dubai residents.
“When you finish the home, you see the people that are happy,” Mr Al Kendi said. “You smile when they smile. You have done something to them and you have done something to yourself.”
Shaikha Khalifa, 24, a student at Dubai Women’s College, also participated in the programme.
“I love volunteering,” Ms Khalifa said. “I want to give a little something back to my community, my country and society.”
Volunteers at the new centre will be able to search for opportunities to help the community using an online calendar.
“We encouraged all of the establishments – government, private sector – to put their events on this calendar,” Mr Al Kamda said.
“When you go into the calendar you will find events, what kinds of skills are required.”
But recruiting and coordinating volunteers is only part of the centre’s mission, Mr Al Kamda said.
“We are responsible for educating, training and really regulating volunteer work in the emirate of Dubai,” he said.
The CDA is also working with Zayed University to encourage students to volunteer by making it a graduation requirement.
To register as a volunteer, call the CDA at 8002121 or visit their website at www.cda.gov.ae and click “volunteering”.
To contact the Dubai Volunteering Centre directly, call 04 4299765 or email email@example.com. The centre is in Al Khawaneej Community Centre, near Al Khawaneej Health Centre and Utbaa bin Ghazwan School.