Volunteers donate water to thank workers who make Dubai great
DUBAI // In an emirate famous for its diversity, one social project is uniting the population to show appreciation to the men who worked so hard building it.
The Sameness Project, an initiative from Dubai-born Lina Nahhas, has been touching the hearts of thousands of residents of the city since it was founded two years ago.
Tomorrow, in its Water For Workers initiative, about 600 volunteers will take to the streets to distribute bottled water to labourers across the emirate, from gardeners to rubbish collectors, construction workers to car cleaners.
The project, which started last year, gained momentum this year, bringing together volunteers of all ages and backgrounds from Emiratis to expatriates, children to adults, highlighting the “sameness” among community members.
In addition to water, face towels with the words “thank you” in six languages, including Hindi and Urdu, are given to the men for the work they do every day.
Jonny Kennaugh, from New Zealand, is one of the project’s team workers. “This year, Water For Workers has grown exponentially. In January we had 5,000 bottles of water given out by about 60 to 100 volunteers. By June and August we had between 300 and 400 volunteers and the water was given out within 30 minutes.”
The water available for the latest event, donated by Pepsi Co, has been doubled to 10,000 bottles to allow for the extra volunteers. Car rental company Hertz is also donating cars and drivers to allow more people to participate and reach even more areas.
“This is awesome for us,” said Mr Kennaugh. “We ask people to turn up in their car so we can load up with water, and it’s thanks to these that Water For Workers happens, but it’s tricky for people without a car. With Hertz, this allows people to take part without a car.”
He says the project is an invaluable opportunity for residents to put social and cultural divisions aside and meet the people who help make Dubai what it is.
“We drive past these people every day so it’s just nice to say thank you for what they do and the volunteers seem to really enjoy this rare opportunity to talk to these guys while we’re handing out the water,” Mr Kennaugh said. “It’s about these moments of ‘sameness’, where people look past the things that can divide us.”
Eight drivers from Hertz have so far volunteered o take part in the project and the company will provide another two.
“It’s so nice these guys have volunteered as it’s their weekend and usually people prefer to do their own thing,” said Henrietta Koshik, the company’s marketing manager, who will be volunteering with her husband.
“It’s unbelievable to think of the scale of the project over a year later, hundreds of volunteers, thousands of bottles of water,” said Marie-Claire Walsh, 26, who has been a volunteer since September last year.
“It’s important that Dubai is a real city with real people at the heart of it. Without these workers, who work tirelessly, in extreme weather, there would be very little for us all to enjoy in Dubai. We should acknowledge that.”
For more information or to register, go to www.thesamenessproject.com
Updated: October 16, 2014 04:00 AM