x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Early Eidiya gifts bring smiles to Dubai orphans

Almost 300 orphaned children received Eidiya gifts and a surprise visit from Modesh suring the eights annual celebration hosted by the Dar Al Ber Society

Children have their names written in calligraphy during the Dar Al Ber Society's 8th Annual Orphans Ceremony at the Dubai World Trade Center(DWTC). Satish Kumar / The National
Children have their names written in calligraphy during the Dar Al Ber Society's 8th Annual Orphans Ceremony at the Dubai World Trade Center(DWTC). Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Hundreds of orphans were treated to early Eidiya gifts and a surprise visit from Modhesh on Friday evening.

The treats were part of the eighth annual Orphan's Ceremony hosted by the Dar Al Ber Society.

The children - 250 from the UAE and 20 flown in from Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana, and Burundi - gathered at Dubai World Trade Centre for the celebrations, held with the support of Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Dar Al Ber sponsors 1,000 orphans in the UAE and 28,650 in 26 countries worldwide.

After receiving monetary gifts, traditionally given at the end of Ramadan but handed out early to the orphans, Modhesh, the mascot of Dubai Summer Surprises, also presented each of the children with a toy. They played into the early hours of yesterday.

During the event, the orphans also got a chance to mingle with children of Dar Al Ber volunteers.

Part of the show was presented by the children of the volunteers, who thanked their parents for their hard work in aiding children in the UAE and around the world.

"I really like Dubai," said Tarek Ibrahim Ali, 12, from Egypt. He and his family of four have been sponsored by Dar Al Ber for the past two years after his father died.

He was part of the group of orphans flown in for the ceremony. They have been touring Dubai for a week, visiting the museum, the old souq, Wild Wadi, Dubai Mall, Kidzania, and Modhesh World.

"My favourite was going to the top of Burj Khalifa, that was amazing being on top of the world," said Tarek, who lives in Al Dakahlia governate in northern Egypt.

His friend and neighbour, Hassan Jamal, 13, and his family of five have been receiving aid from the society for four years.

"It is a very difficult situation we have back home. I am eternally grateful to everyone at Dar Al Ber and the people of the UAE for all the help they have given me and my family," he said. Hassan's father died from cancer four years ago and the family was immediately taken under the wing of Dar Al Ber.

The orphans' sponsorship includes health care, education, housing, and a monthly allowance.

"I want to become an engineer and build buildings like the ones you have here in Dubai," Hassan said. "I want to be a doctor and play football for Barcelona football club," Tarek added.

Today the group will be given spending money to go shopping.

Abdulla Mousa Shahnawi, 16, cannot put into words what the aid from Dar Al Ber Society means to his family.

"I just can't imagine where we would be without them. I don't even want to think of it."

Abdulla is the middle child of eight in a family of bidoon in Al Qusais. Most of the children lost their father at an early age.

"My mother really struggled to take care of us after our father died. My eldest brother had a job as a messenger, he tried his best but his salary was not enough to take care of the whole family."

Finding no alternative, Abdulla's mother went to Dar Al Ber and registered her children as orphans - in Islamic culture any child who has lost a father is considered an orphan.

The society covered the family's school fees, living costs, food bills, and health care. It continues to do so more than a decade later.

"Thanks to them we finally felt that we had security, we felt safe and happy for the first time," said Abdulla. "They didn't just give us enough to survive, they gave us enough to be comfortable. We also got to go on trips and visits to the malls and parks."

At the age of 11, Abdulla began trying to give back to the charity that has been a lifeline to his family. He became a volunteer and participated in many charitable activities.

"I was very happy, it felt like a family atmosphere, everyone was very friendly," he said.

Abdulla plans to graduate from school and join Dubai Police.

"I want to give back to the people, just as they have given so much to me and my family," he said.

His sister, Fatima, 14, was one of the presenters at the ceremony.

"I want to do more things with Dar Al Ber," she said. "But it's not easy finding something I can be helpful with.

"I was very nervous on stage, but I also really enjoyed it," said the Grade 8 student, who hopes to study information technology. "I hope more people will volunteer to help out at the society."

Fatima said her favourite trips with the society were to the public libraries. "It's a fun place to learn new things," she added.

"We thank all the members of Dar Al Ber in our prayers everyday," said Abdulla. "I don't know how else to thank them for what they did for us."