x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE’s young volunteers honoured at Abu Dhabi ceremony

Youngsters who have volunteered for humanitarian, social and community programmes received certificates before getting to enjoy the rides at Ferrari World.

ABU DHABI // Three hundred and fifty young volunteers at a social programme run by the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development were yesterday honoured at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi.

Held at Ferrari World, the event gathered young men and women from all over the country who had taken part in the foundation’s Takatof Programme for Social Volunteering this year.

Among them was Samah Hassoun, 17, who has been volunteering for two years.

“Today is our fun day,” said the high-school pupil, explaining that after the recognition ceremony volunteers were free to enjoy the rides of the theme park.

So far, Ms Hassoun said she has contributed 140 hours of volunteering work, helping at international events taking place in Abu Dhabi, participating at clean-ups and visiting elderly people during Ramadan.

“I am not from the UAE but since I live here, I have to pay back to this country,” said the Egyptian, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for eight years. “Also, one of our religion’s rules is to help others.”

But volunteering could also be beneficial, she said, explaining that it enables participants to interact with other people and develop social skills. It may also come in handy in several years’ time when Ms Hassoun is job-hunting.

“When I apply for a job, they will ask me what I have done,” she said.

For Shamikh Osama, volunteering is an activity to enjoy with his siblings – his 22-year-old sister, Shahad, and his brother, Shamel, also 22.

“I learnt to be good with everybody,” said Mr Osama, who is of Sudanese descent but was born in the UAE 14 years ago. “You should respect your brother, grown-ups and people who are old.”

During the ceremony, where volunteers received certificates, among other awards, Lt Col Dr Salah Obaid Al Ghul, the cultural director at the Secretariat-General of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, spoke about his personal experiences, highlighting the important role volunteering has in building an individual’s personality.

Inspired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Takatof offers young people opportunities to volunteer for humanitarian, social and community programmes that serve those least able to help themselves.

vtodorova@thenational.ae