x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dh1 a day: UAE Indonesians chip in to aid the destitute back home

Indonesians are benefitting from charity efforts in the UAE as 90,000 Indonesians expats working in the Emirates participate in the One Dirham A Day initiative.

ABU DHABI // Indonesian expatriates are helping those in their homeland who are destitute and in need of a good education.

There are 90,000 Indonesians living in the UAE, more than 60 per cent of them in domestic employment, and some have now started to participate in the One Dirham A Day initiative.

The aim is to collect as much money as possible to help starving families and orphans in the South-East Asian country, as well as housemaids facing trying circumstances in this country.

Set up by the Indonesian embassy in Abu Dhabi and a committee of residents, the initiative involves people placing a dirham each day in a tin collection box given out by organisers.

The embassy has 20 tins filled with coins and notes valued at about Dh3,600. The committee has now bought a further 40 tins as the project aims to expand to the Western Region, Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

Lalan Purnama, the deputy head of the One Dirham A Day committee, said: “The idea is that coins that people generally forget about can bring happiness to the faces of those who don’t have access to food and education.

“We are supporting orphans financially so that they can go to school.”

Without this support, they cannot attend school, Mr Purnama said.

Another way the initiative will help is by maintaining bridges that have been damaged by flooding, so children can reach school with ease.

Many remote areas in Indonesia are connected by wooden bridges, Mr Purnama said.

Ummi Mehmouda Al Farsi, an Indonesian woman who filled two tins for the project, said: “I consider this an opportunity for me to give to somebody who is deprived of basic needs. For people here, one dirham is nothing, but for the poor this is a big amount that can cater for their basic needs.”

The hope is that the initiative will expand across the UAE.

The Indonesian ambassador, Salman Al Farisi, said: “If it’s collected bit by bit, it becomes a significant amount, which can address significant problems. Small steps can do significant things for children who face varied problems back home.

“We encourage all our community to join the good cause. I have two boxes and submitted twice. Sometimes we neglect small coins, so it’s better to drop it in the box.”

Another fundraising programme being run by the Indonesian community in the UAE aims to help educate children in Indonesia.

Indonesian parents here are asked to donate Dh300 a year and the money goes to mothers, widows or foster parents in their homeland.

People interested in obtaining a tin to collect coins should contact the embassy on 02 445 4448. There is no time limit on filling the tins, donors can return them whenever they are full.

anwar@thenational.ae

anwar@thenational.ae