x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Charity exhibition in capital

The event, which continues today and tomorrow, seeks to raise money for widowed women and their children in Beirut, Lebanon. Some of the widows and their children have disabilities.

Nahed Jabr Nsouli talks to ladies during a charity sale at the Ashghalona Charity Exhibition on Tuesday.
Nahed Jabr Nsouli talks to ladies during a charity sale at the Ashghalona Charity Exhibition on Tuesday.

ABU DHABI // Martha Hlophe held up and examined an off-white tablecloth with flower designs stitched into the fabric.

The wife of the Swaziland ambassador in Abu Dhabi was one of nearly a dozen customers yesterday who came early to a charity exhibition in the capital.

The event, which continues today and tomorrow, seeks to raise money for widowed women and their children in Beirut, Lebanon. Some of the widows and their children have disabilities.

Delicious home-made desserts, jam and pickles, colourful drinks, furniture made of wood straw and pretty embroideries filled a room at the General Women's Union (GWU).The organisation represents women across the Emirates.

All the items on display were made by the Beirut widows.

"This place is fabulous, just the thought that it's done by widows, by blind people, by handicapped people, it's amazing how good their work is," Mrs Hlophe said.

Outside the hall room, a table full of mini Lebanese sweets and coffee enticed attendees. For only Dh10, they could grab all the mini delicacies their hands could hold.

Ashghalouna, a charity for Beirut widows, hosted the exhibition with GWU.

Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the widow of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, is the GWU chairwoman. She did not attend yesterday's exhibition.

"Ms Sanaa al Nuaimiinvited us here for the second time, the first time was in 2008, and of course also Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, who we still didn't meet but we'd love to," said Waseela Aris, the president of Ashghalouna. "The last time we came here, we sold everything, I hope this time we get to do the same."

The roots of Ashghalouna, which means "our work,'' stretch back to 1986, when a group of volunteering women in Lebanon established the Committee of the Friends of the Social Welfare Institutions-Islamic Orphanage. Ashghalouna's mission is to complement the philanthropic work of the committee and its orphanage through numerous social activities.

Based in the Zarif area of Beirut, Ashghalouna teaches widows how to perform sewing, needlework and embroidery, as well as to make handicrafts and to cook food.

By helping these women learn various skills, the charity provides them with the ability to earn money so they can lead more comfortable lives.

"Our charity in Beirut is a beautiful villa with a garden", said Mrs Aris. "Not only do we make those exhibitions, but in that villa, every Friday, we make a charity lunch. For US$30 (Dh110.25) , people can come enjoy Lebanese food, a buffet, and what they pay goes to those poor widows."

Ola, 22, from Jordan, who did not wish to give her last name, was one of the volunteers at yesterday's exhibition. She is also a Unicef volunteer, and said she was touched by the concept of Ashghalouna.

"When you think about each item, and who made them, it makes a difference," she said. "It truly moves you when you think of a blind woman who did it, so instantly you feel glad to pay, and this gives you a feeling of satisfaction."

 

The Ashghalouna charity exhibition continues today and tomorrow from 10am until 8 pm at the General Women's Union in Abu Dhabi. The event is open only to women.

 

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