x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 October 2017

Book of UAE residents' good deeds to be distributed at schools

The Good Deeds book aims to show children the many acts of goodness that can be performed towards society

Siblings Aaditya and Aditi Gandhi who set up a library in their home are being including in the Good Deeds book that will be published later this year. Chris Whiteoak The National
Siblings Aaditya and Aditi Gandhi who set up a library in their home are being including in the Good Deeds book that will be published later this year. Chris Whiteoak The National

A book of inspiring good deeds performed by UAE residents will be published by the end of the year and distributed among the country’s schools.

The Good Deeds book, which will be launched by the Abu Dhabi social responsibility organisation Nahtam, aims to show children and the general public the many acts of goodness that can be performed towards society.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 08, 2017: Saima Khan, a 19 year old Indian citizen, is the first youth ambassador to the UN from the UAE, she set up a company called Step Up Dubai to help address global poverty and she is part of the Good Deeds book on Tuesday, Aug. 08, 2017 in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak The National
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 08, 2017: Saima Khan, a 19 year old Indian citizen, is the first youth ambassador to the UN from the UAE, she set up a company called Step Up Dubai to help address global poverty and she is part of the Good Deeds book on Tuesday, Aug. 08, 2017 in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak The National

For Saima Khan, a 19-year-old Dubai-born Indian citizen, tackling global poverty is at the heart of her efforts. “It is the first goal of the United Nations and it’s much more than just hunger,” said the first youth delegate of the UN from the UAE.

“If you see the UN Sustainable Development Goals, they have global poverty as number one and zero hunger too. It’s a vast term and everyone should have a basic standard of living.”

Miss Khan, who is also the brand ambassador of the Thirst Relief Foundation and Protect Your Mom campaign, started her humanitarian work at only 13.

“In India, you walk out and see children starving and dying of hunger almost every day,” she said. “It’s a very casual sight. The amount of food wasted there is also very high so I wanted to help solve a problem between that link.”

Through the company she founded Step Up Dubai and has so far managed to set up water wells in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan with plans for another 50 over the next year in 30 poverty-stricken countries. “I kept visiting labour camps and realised they’ve been deprived of basic sanitation items and food so I became very attached to this goal,” she said. “There was a need to pay attention to this.”

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 09, 2017: Siblings Aaditya 11 & Aditi 9 Gandhi who are part of a Good Deeds book have set up a library and contributed their books for the community on Wednesday, Aug. 09, 2017, in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak The National
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 09, 2017: Siblings Aaditya 11 & Aditi 9 Gandhi who are part of a Good Deeds book have set up a library and contributed their books for the community on Wednesday, Aug. 09, 2017, in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak The National

Aaditya and Aditi Gandhi, 11 and 9 respectively, chose to share their passion of reading after being inspired by the UAE’s “Year of Reading” campaign last year.

They turned their living room into a free neighbourhood library for children living in Bur Dubai. “They had 300 books from their own collection,” said Puja Gandhi, their mother. “They would invite children in our living room and now we have about 500 books in the library in Arabic, French, Hindi and English. They also initiate different events through this library for recycling, breast cancer awareness, collecting clothes for the Red Crescent over summer and creative writing for children.”

She said the public library did not seem good enough. “They had a huge collection of books and we were wondering how others could make use of it,” Mrs Gandhi said. “My son came up with the idea as they started reading from an early age and it is their passion to collect books.”

Essa Al Ansari. Chris Whiteoak for The National
Essa Al Ansari. Chris Whiteoak for The National

For Essa Al Ansari, fitness is the way forward. After the 25-year-old Emirati from Dubai was diagnosed as obese four years ago, he decided to change his life and become active.

“So far, I’ve lost 70 kgs in four years with no operation, only by eating healthy and working out,” said the Nike Athlete, who also works at Barry’s Bootcamp.

“After that, I started my campaign Fitness With Essa on social media and through a website. Living in Europe for four years made me realise how much more active people are there while here, it’s all about getting in cabs and getting from A to B so this is targeted to inspire the young generation and the youth of the UAE.”

He hopes to become an international motivational speaker to promote health and fitness after participating in a Ted talk in Dubai. “I am glad to be part of "Beacon Of Hope UAE" founded by Sheikha Shamma bin Sultan which aims to make a positive impact on youth living,” he said. “It is all about helping young generations to live healthier lives. As one of the board members, I’m sure it will be a great cause to push children in schools to become healthy and active.”

The book is expected to be published by the end of September. It will be free across schools in the UAE. “We have 35 stories in English and Arabic,” said George Itty, chief executive of Nahtam. “We did one book called 67 Inspiring Stories in the name of Nelson Mandela a few years ago and the feedback from the general public was very successful. That’s what motivated us to create this one.”

He received more than 700 applications for Good Deeds. “I feel very happy when the writers talk to us,” he said. “It’s just a matter that there are people who are doing good. If you give them an opportunity, everybody will participate because they like to do community work and they all have humanity in them so it’s just a matter of polishing it and giving them a push.”