It took Dh60,000, more than six hours of travel and 10 days of humanitarian work in a remote Indian village for nine students from Al Ain Men's College to learn the lesson of their lives.
Al Ain students in humanitarian trip to India
It took Dh60,000, more than six hours of travel and 10 days in a remote Indian village for nine students from Al Ain Men's College to learn the lesson of their lives.
The students, accompanied by their school counsellor Imad Jarwan, travelled to a village near Hyderabad this month to help build three houses with Habitat for Humanity. The humanitarian visit was the first of its kind for the college, which is attempting to expand its global reach.
"Each moment there was brilliance," said Mohammad al Sayari, a 20-year-old Emirati studying business. "We spent all our time with people and working to build houses, and I learnt a lot of things about appreciating what we have here in our country and helping all the poor people in the world."
The students raised most of the money for the trip after failing to find sponsors. They paid for their travel and bought materials for the village, which has no roads or running water.
"This project was a chance to enhance the students' global view and give them a little international experience," Mr Jarwan said. "It gave them an idea of what goes on in the world around them, and they will now be able to look at things from a different experience."
The students provided labour at the work sites, mixing concrete, carrying bricks, and transporting piles of sand.
Sultan al Darmaki, a 22-year-old Emirati studying business, said it had been difficult at first to absorb the poverty and bleak living conditions.
"But when we saw the people and the smiles on their faces, that was nice," Mr al Darmaki said.
During a trip to an orphanage in Bidar, the students pooled their resources to sponsor a child living there for the next year.
"What they saw there was a life totally different from their own," said Tim Smith, the college's acting director. "I don't think they expected what they saw there, and they got a lot more out of it than just building houses."
Al Ain Men's College, a school of the Higher Colleges of Technology, is working on expanding its community and global outreach programmes and has emphasised charity work as a way of forming global partnerships, Mr Jarwan said. Next, he hopes to organise a humanitarian trip to Africa.
The students will make a presentation about their project at the college in November.