Indians scale heights to heal wounds of Kurdish refugees
Dubai - Indian expats joined hands with a global nonprofit organisation to bring hope to nearly 2 million children waiting in refugee camps in Erbil, Duhok, Sulaimaniya and Mosul in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Think globally, but act locally - A team of nine UAE-based Indian professionals - comprising finance professionals and an orthopedic surgeon - has embarked on such a mission by climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, to make the world think about the forgotten refugee children of Kurdistan province in Iraq.
The Indian expats joined hands with global nonprofit organisation Bring Hope - that has an international branch licence with the Dubai International Humanitarian City - to bring hope to nearly 2 million children waiting in refugee camps in Erbil, Duhok, Sulaimaniya and Mosul in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Aishwarya Joshi, founder of The Lighthouse Cohort, organiser of the expedition, said: "This group is the first group of Indian expats climbing for the Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation since its establishment in 2017. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not novel for Indian expats but climbing for Kurdish people is something no one has done.
"Each and every penny raised through this campaign will go into the Healing Project, which we have introduced for the refugees. We believe that instead of depending on humanitarian aid, healed and empowered children will successfully sustain post war periods, engage in livelihood opportunities and contribute towards the betterment of society."
Talking about the idea behind the project, Joshi said: "Kilimanjaro is about pushing the limits on the physical and mental level which is what is required for the Healing project as well. Also this climb aims at taking the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed forward by taking relationships beyond borders and religious backgrounds."
But why the idea of fundrasing? Joshi said: "We stay here in the Middle East and we owe it to the economy here. This is our responsibility towards the land in which we earn our livelihood - to bring peace, happiness and prosperity here and this will benefit the whole world in the long run. That's how the 'Climb for Hope' was conceptualised by The Lighthouse Cohort. for Bring Hope and for these expats."
One of the participants, banker Jagdish Padmashali, said: "It was an idea conceived by a friend Chirag Sampat, director global markets (Emirates Investment Bank), which soon became the dream of others. We embarked on this journey to break barriers and the climb for hope initiative resonated our theme. We could see the need for healing of these innocent children at Kurdistan and are glad we could bring some attention to that through our initiative."
Padmashali added: "We are not regular trekkers but this trek took a tremendous toll on us at all levels... It was the fight between the mind and the body where the mind had to win. This was truly breaking barriers in all sense from our point of view and we would love people to continue supporting our cause."
Workers join drive
Inspired by the unique awareness drive, several blue-collar workers made their donations for the displaced refugee children.
Talking about the involvement of blue collar workers, Joshi said: "The workers were following this campaign through social media and asked us how they could contribute to the cause. We were happy to see that the blue collar community showed that they wanted to give back to the society and in two weeks they spread awareness about this project."
Taking charge of his community, a young blue-collar worker Gulzar, in his 20s, went around in a number of workers accommodations explaining the plight of the refugee kids and received an overwhelming response from the workers. "So what if we earn less, we have a big heart and we also want to help these kids in every way possible. I was amazed at how enthusiastically everyone came forward to contribute for the cause. Although I told them they can donate Dh1 for the cause, some of them gave Dh20, Dh40 and one even gave Dh100."