DUBAI: At least 350 volunteers from across the United Arab Emirates on Saturday joined an initiative launched by a coalition of humanitarian organizations to pack 1,200 tons of food, health care and general hygiene items in 30,000 kits for flood-affected families in Pakistan within four hours.
The UAE was among the first countries that provided emergency support to flood-hit families in Pakistan after record monsoon rains and flash floods claimed about 1,400 lives in the South Asian state since the beginning of the season in June.
Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, the chief executive officer of Dubai Cares, said the relief kits would be delivered to Pakistan on an urgent basis.
“Pakistan has witnessed the worst disaster in history … and the situation will not be resolved very quickly,” he said. “International support has not come in properly yet, but we at Dubai Cares wanted to involve the community in the UAE in this cause and therefore we launched the first phase of the project.”
Al Gurg added the program would also continue in the coming weeks.
The community volunteering event saw citizens and residents of all ages and nationalities gather at three locations, including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, Expo City Dubai and Expo Center Sharjah, where they prepared the relief kits.
The volunteers were divided into various groups to support the packing of two types of relief kits that carried food supplies and hygiene products.
Food supplies included items like flour, rice, lentils and oil, among other non-perishable items, while the hygiene kits contained essential toiletries for women and children, such as diapers, sanitary napkins and soaps.
“The relief kits will be shipped by air to Pakistan,” said Abdullah Sultan bin Khadim, the top official of Sharjah Charity International whose organization was also part of the initiative, while speaking to the official news agency of the Arab country. “The initiative embodies the values of the synergy of people from all walks of life, including citizens and residents, women, men, young people and elderly as well as individuals and institutions.”
Young volunteers came forward and wrote positive messages on postcards with each pack.
“We learned about what was happening in Pakistan and it is really sad,” said Tia Aljayyusi and Sophia Taha, Grade 11 students from Dubai International Academy. “We were happy to contribute to this initiative by writing positive and motivational messages for the people affected by the floods as they really need all our support during this time.”
“We are all seeing what’s happening in Pakistan and so many of our friends’ relatives have been affected,” Fadi Alsayegh, a young doctor, said. “In fact, one of my friends’ parents were displaced due to the floods and the rescue team had to find them. During this time, we all need to come together and support Pakistan as we are one global family.”
Diya Thomas, a Grade 11 student who volunteered for the program, said: “When I heard about the floods, I felt like I wanted to help in some way or another. And when our school sent us the message of this volunteering event, I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to help.”
The initiative was launched by Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), Dubai Cares and Sharjah Charity International in close coordination with the ministries of community development, foreign affairs and international cooperation in the UAE.
Nine other humanitarian organizations, including Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment and The Big Heart Foundation, also participated in the charitable cause.