x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Pupils collect items for charity

A group of pupils has joined a charity to help make sure labourers have essential supplies this Ramadan.

Al Shohub school pupils with donations. From left, Sana Kamall, Jana Van Zyl, Sanaa Sheikh, Joseph Moore and Salama al Suweidi.
Al Shohub school pupils with donations. From left, Sana Kamall, Jana Van Zyl, Sanaa Sheikh, Joseph Moore and Salama al Suweidi.

A group of pupils has joined a charity to help labourers with essential supplies this Ramadan. The children at Al Shohub school have donated 155 boxes of toiletries and bedding to the Dubai based charity HelpingHandsUAE for its Eid Gift Box Appeal, to be given to labourers at the lowest end of the pay scale. Elizabeth Bromfield, the school's head teacher, said: "We're so pleased with the response. The children have really enjoyed being involved with this project and after the success of this, we're going to start doing a monthly 'day of giving'.

"These are very fortunate children and it's very important that they learn about those who are not so lucky and have nothing. For us, this is the beginning of an ongoing thing for all the children in the school." Distribution of the boxes is to begin today in labour camps in Dubai and last through Eid al Fitr. Sarah Zimmerman, a teacher at the school, said the idea was in keeping with the emphasis on academics, culture and citizenship. "While the concept of shoebox donations is long established abroad, we decided this year to partner with HelpingHandsUAE," she said, adding that pupils and teachers were also donating mini-zakat of Dh10 (US$2.72) a week.

Each Ramadan, the school's senior year elects a student charity co-ordinator, and they decide which charities will receive the money raised throughout the year. Miss Zimmerman said: "Last year we donated time and money to Make-A-Wish UAE and raised enough money to donate three laptops to terminally ill children and children with very serious diseases in Abu Dhabi." HelpingHandsUAE was set up two years ago by the British expatriates Roger and Elle Trow. The charity began as a small project to help a group of Filipino labourers who had not been paid for five months and could hardly find money for food.

Mrs Trow said: "After the Filipinos, we clothed a group of Indian labourers who we found freezing in the winter months, still wearing their summer clothes. My husband and I went to Carrefour and bought a load of sweaters and it just grew from there." This is the second year they have organised the Eid box project but they hope that they will exceed last year's distribution of around 2,000 boxes by thousands.

The charity is still run out of the couple's home in Umm Suqeim. They have a medical team of dentists, doctors and psychologists who the couple take around to the camps. They are now looking for Hindi-speaking doctors, dentists, dieticians, psychiatrists and ophthalmologists. More information is available at www.helpinghandsuae.com. mswan@thenational.ae