Umm Hamdan despaired over how she would support her family after her husband died two years ago.
Zakat Fund's orphan programme saves family from poverty
Umm Hamdan's husband died two years ago, and trying to provide for her mother and three children – aged 5, 8 and 11 – was almost enough to drive her to despair.
With no source of income but the final few dirhams of her late husband's savings, the 38-year-old widow had to cut out some meals and all "extras".
"There were days when my mother and I fed on one meal, and the children on two meals," she said.
"We completely forgot about extra pampering food items such as sweets and eating out, or toys for the children."
She wanted to find a job, but with no more than a middle school education and no work qualifications, she stood little chance.
"Some of our family members used to help out, but whoever gave aid one month would not give the next, so there was no guaranteed source of income at all," she said.
After a year of struggling to get by, Umm Hamdan heard about the orphans programme at the Zakat Fund and decided to apply.
She was asked to fill out a form and include documents, such as her husband's death certificate and her children's birth certificates.
Two months later, last Ramadan, she began receiving aid. The fund provides the family with a Dh5,000 allowance a month – enough to meet her children's basic needs and wants.
"They even gave out toys to the children last Eid, so I did not have to worry about extra spending," she said. "My hope is in Allah and the fund to keep us going until my eldest son is ready to work."
Families need to reapply to the fund each year.
A fund official said orphans were sponsored until they reached a working age, which could be 18 if they decided not to continue with their studies. "If they enrol in college, however, we sponsor them until they graduate."
Orphans' families also receive about Dh8,000 towards school fees at the start of each academic year.