x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

'Big Bus Raid' brings bags of goodies to Abu Dhabi labourers

Volunteers will hand out goody bags to labourers in Abu Dhabi which will include a sandwich, a fruit and a bottle of water.

ABU DHABI // Volunteers will hand out goody bags to bus loads of labourers in Abu Dhabi in the coming weeks.

The "Big Bus Raid" will surprise workers near construction sites with a bag filled with a fried chicken sandwich, an apple or a banana, orange juice and a bottle of water. Organisers also plan to include traditional South Asian desserts, which will remind them of home.

"Being from Abu Dhabi, I feel like it's my obligation to thank and appreciate the workers who built it. It's the least I can do," said Mariam Al Mazrouei, an Emirati communications professional.

"It really helps me focus on the simple things in life, things I usually take for granted, like sharing a meal with my family."

Suparna Mathur, a social entrepreneur in Abu Dhabi, said the team was very lucky to have the support of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Saeed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Tennis Tournament, a private event held at Abu Dhabi's royal palace by Sheikha Shaikha bint Mohammed.

There will be a special tennis bus raid for 250 workers next week and a Big Bus Raid for 500 workers on a weekend later this month.

The tennis raid will be for all the new supporters who contributed through the tournament, while the weekend bus raid will be open to the community and volunteers.

Pamela Abdalla, a former resident of Abu Dhabi who is now living in the United States, is the founder of the Worker Bus Raids, which started in 2010 with a few snack packs delivered to labourers. The programme is now managed by Ms Al Mazrouei, Ms Mathur, Bahareh Amidi and Karen Heimgartner.

The initiative is not only about donating but interaction. "This was something Pamela believed in so much and I only learned to appreciate its truth and beauty after participating," said Ms Amidi, 45, a poet in Abu Dhabi.

"She thought that it is in human interaction that real appreciation is shown - to actually say 'thank you' and mean it while you look at someone in the eyes."

The team has since hosted more than a dozen bus raids.

The American Community School in Abu Dhabi is a regular supporter of this initiative and organises bus raids on their own, said Ms Mathur.

"Seeing the smiles on their faces makes you realise how easy it is to show them that the community cares," said Ms Al Mazrouei.

"They were happy to be receiving a goody bag but what makes them even happier is that the community ... interacted with them. It shows us how easy it is to draw a smile on the faces of the people who built this beautiful city."