x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Feeding children is a stroll in the park

Hundreds of walkers turn out at Zabeel Park for Yalla, Walk the World, part of a worldwide event to help fight global hunger.

Heeling power: participants at Yalla, Walk the World, at Zabeel Park yesterday.
Heeling power: participants at Yalla, Walk the World, at Zabeel Park yesterday.

DUBAI // Hundreds of people donned branded T-shirts and baseball caps yesterday to power walk around Zabeel Park in the name of charity.

As part of an event held around the world, participants gathered in the early evening for Yalla, Walk the World to raise money for the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

"The aim of the event is to help fight hunger," said Ashraf Hamouda, the business development manager for the programme in the region. "It's donation driven but a lot of it is about awareness."

It is the second time the annual event was held in Dubai. Last year, about 1,500 people gathered to walk around Dubai Festival City mall.

There were expected to be about 5,000 people at this year's event. Figures for ticket sales were not immediately available, but there appeared to be only several hundred walkers.

Globally, some 130,000 people across 70 countries took part in the event last year. They raised enough money to pay for a year of school meals for 14,600 children in the world's poorest countries.

The WFP is a charitable organisation focused on supplying emergency relief and improving food security.

Some of the participants in Dubai said the weather might have kept many indoors.

"It's hot but it's only a little bit of suffering compared to the suffering of kids around the world," said Nick Zorgios, 37, from Australia.

Many heard about the walk through their workplaces, on e-mails or company noticeboards.

Leandro Rosa, 27, from Brazil, has been in Dubai for only weeks and thought the walk would be a good opportunity to meet people.

"I just wanted to get out and see a new part of the city," Mr Rosa said. "It's a good event and I'm happy to do something to help."

Ticket prices were Dh50 for adults and Dh25 for children.

Mr Hamouda said money raised from last year's event was "too little to mention", but stressed it was about raising awareness.

This year's event was sponsored by Dubai Municipality, International Humanitarian City and the food company Sadia.

Mr Hamouda said the annual walk would go from strength to strength.

"Next year, though, we may do it a bit earlier in the year when it's cooler," he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae