Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Volunteer even from home to beat the spread of the coronavirus

If every citizen contributes positively, we can contain this crisis and save lives

A commuter at the Sharaf DG metro station, Al Barsha, Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
A commuter at the Sharaf DG metro station, Al Barsha, Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

In times of crises, it is not unusual for the good in people to emerge and for philanthropy to motivate our actions.

During this pandemic, there is both an urgency to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and a collective human need to aid efforts to battle the spread and save lives. Across the world and indeed here in the UAE, where the ethos of humanitarianism remains a guiding principle, people want to help in whatever capacity they can, while still taking every precaution to be safe and not infect themselves and others. Whether it is by giving time, resources or extending kindness to medical staff and those most burdened, we must remember that we can all actively contribute positively in these difficult times.

The government is doing its bit to encourage people to assist with contributions. It is for people to partake in the effort to counter this crisis

On Monday, a programme was launched to encourage people to donate and support the Abu Dhabi government’s fight against the spread of the coronavirus. The Authority of Social Contribution, or Maan, invited members of the public and businesses to donate to the "Together We Are Good" programme. These calls have been heeded. Entities such as the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank announced contributions of Dh25 million. Maan will allocate funds that have been collected to bolster medical and educational aid and sustain food supplies, all the time keeping in mind the well-being of the community and the urgent goal to stop the ravages of the virus.

Also this week, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, called on Emiratis and residents to volunteer in a new campaign called "Your City Needs You". It is clear that every citizen and resident, even within the confines of their homes, has a responsibility to alleviate the strain on resources.

“My message to everyone is to volunteer to join the dedicated teams that are working round-the-clock to protect our community,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

Across the UAE, we have seen appeals from Dubai and Abu Dhabi for people to offer their services. The government is doing its bit to encourage people and organisations to assist with financial and in-kind contributions to support the community.

It is for people to seize the opportunity and partake in the national effort to counter this health and economic crisis. People can offer their services virtually, and aligned with what they are good at and where their skillsets are bound to come in handy.

The compassionate and public-spirited have answered these pleas. Thousands have responded to the national appeal, as reported by The National. To mention just a few, Emirati pilot Abdullah Meshkal has offered his services, as has nurse Abdulla Al Shamsi, both saying they are ready to act. Dr Uday Al Shammari, a tourist from Iraq, who was visiting the UAE only for a break but is unable to return home due to flight restrictions, has said he is willing to do everything to help, even from within the bounds of quarantine.

In other emirates, like Ajman, a group of volunteers aim to provide more than 4,000 labourers in Ajman with regular free meals. In the coming month, teams from the emirate will distribute basic health kits and other essentials to those in need.

We have had leaders extending compassion in disparate ways, whether cutting down people's utilities bills, like in Sharjah and Dubai or toll charges and other expenses waived in Abu Dhabi. Even small steps signal care and compassion for people having to struggle in tough times.

Across the world, volunteerism is being encouraged to help officials cope with an extraordinary workload.

In the UK an admirable 11,788 retired medical staffers this week returned to work, including nearly 3,000 doctors and over 6,000 nurses. While UK's health secretary asked for 250,000 volunteers, that number was vastly outdone when 405,000 people responded to the government's call for volunteers to help the National Health Service cope with the onslaught of incoming patients infected with the coronavirus.

It is a marker of anomalous times when pensioners come out of retirement and rejoin the workforce. It is also perhaps this unifying desire to contribute and make ourselves useful that marks humanity's better nature.

We are in this together.

Updated: March 26, 2020 04:39 PM

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