Two non-profit groups in Dubai are trying to improve the lives of low-income labourers one bicycle at a time.
The 1971 Team has joined forces with Social Bandage to deliver specialised Atlas Cycle bicycles to underprivileged workers near labour camps through their Give a Bike campaign.
“By giving a bike, you will change a life of a worker,” said Khalifa bin Hendi, 22, the Emirati founder of the 1971 Team, which focuses on national and labour issues.
“They have difficulties with their transportation and, with a bike, he could work some extra time as a gardener or as a helper and we think that it will ease his life.
“At least it will save him Dh300 or Dh400, which is around 50 or maybe 40 per cent of his salary, as far as we know.”
Every Saturday morning, Mr bin Hendi leads a group of volunteers and donors around Dubai’s industrial area to scout out potential recipients. They look near bus stops, labour camps or the Grand City Mall for workers in their 40s or 50s who look particularly hard-up, said Aisha Harib, 26, the founder of Social Bandage.
“We’re focusing more on the construction labourer because construction labourers are so many, and they have a lot of responsibilities,” said Ms Harib, also an Emirati. “They have children and they’re working for that.
“Especially we’re focusing on older people. And we just want to say thank you. I mean, you build Dubai and put a lot of effort in doing such amazing skyscrapers.”
The campaign has taken off on social media, where both organisations use the hashtag #giveabike on Instagram and Twitter to spread the message of their initiative, and post photos of the programme’s recipients posing with new bikes and their donors.
Since they launched the project last month, the group has helped about 45 labourers, Mr bin Hendi said.
“It’s very touching actually,” he said. “We had a lady last week who actually teared up, almost cried, when she was at the scene.
“It was very touching because she saw that her money went and changed someone’s life.”
Carla, a donor who got involved after following the #giveabike campaign on social media, said the chance to give directly to the beneficiary was one of the reasons she decided to help.
“That’s why I did it, because you have the opportunity to meet the person, and also I believe in the organisation,” said the Portuguese national from South Africa.
She said she was also moved by the group’s passion for the cause and the workers. “It just was priceless, really.”
The group’s social-media campaign also hopes to encourage others to help people in their own neighbourhoods, said Ms Harib.
“We just want to inspire our community to do their own giving, to improve the acts of kindness in the younger generation,” she said.
For more information about the campaign or to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Mr bin Hendi on 050 997 9971.