Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Several of the volunteers packing and distributing the meal bags and toiletry kits are labourers themselves.
Several of the volunteers packing and distributing the meal bags and toiletry kits are labourers themselves.

Ramadan campaign puts a 'Smile on the Face' of 10,000 UAE labourers

Ramadan 2012: Ten thousand labourers will receive free meals and toiletries through a Ramadan programme run by the Community Development Authority (CDA).

DUBAI // Ten thousand labourers will receive free meals and toiletries through a Ramadan programme run by the Community Development Authority (CDA).

Several of the volunteers packing and distributing the bags are labourers themselves, said Palani Babu, manager of facility and society licensing at the CDA.

"They said there is a non-profit organisation that had provided them a lot of support," Mr Babu said. "They wanted to give back."

The Ramadan programme, called "Smile on the Face", is a collaboration between the CDA, a Dubai government agency, and Tamquest Events company.

The initiative has already served 5,500 workers at labour camps in Dubai. The programme will continue until the end of Ramadan.

Each worker receives water, an iftar meal and an assortment of toiletries, said Dr Omar Al Muthanna, chief executive officer of the CDA's social regulatory and licensing sector.

"One of the groups we've been paying special attention to is people in labour camps ... to show the people of Dubai that nobody is overlooked," said Dr Al Muthanna. "It doesn't matter what creed or background you come from, we are one community."

About 180 to 200 volunteers have participated so far, packing the bags during the week and distributing them on Friday evenings.

The CDA worked with private companies and non-profit groups to organise the programme.

The meal and gift bag expenses were covered by corporations and charitable individuals, with each pack costing about Dh50.

Half of the volunteers were recruited through a CDA database, while the rest heard through the media or word of mouth.

"[During] Ramadan the spirits are high, people want to give more," Dr Al Muthanna said. "When we put out a call for our volunteer programme, people came to us fasting, working outside in the heat, coming after their working hours in the middle of nowhere to help the labourers."

Several children also have volunteered. "They were as small as five to six years old," Mr Babu said.

"Smile on the face" is an extension of a campaign the CDA launched earlier this year called "Honour Labour", which is dedicated to labourers.

"There are still ongoing programmes for learning English, music classes, health awareness sessions, and a book donation drive," Dr Al Muthanna said.

The CDA works with volunteers to encourage social cohesion, he added. "We always try to look for opportunities where we can strengthen these messages, and what better time than Ramadan?"

People can register to volunteer by emailing volunteers@cda.gov.ae or messaging BlackBerry pin number 210E67B3.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A Brabus Mercedes 6x6 Sports Utility Vehicle is readied for display during Auto China 2014 in Beijing, on April 20. Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

In pictures: Auto China 2014 exhibition

Leading automakers have gathered in Beijing for the kickoff of China’s biggest car show, but lacklustre growth and environmental restrictions in the world’s largest car market have thrown uncertainty into the mix. More than 1,100 vehicles are being showcased.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inspire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National