Women-only taxis come to aid of the destitute

FUJAIRAH - The Fujairah Charity Society-sponsored women-only taxi service has allowed at least 25 women deserted by their husbands or who come from poor families to earn a decent living without depending on others' charity all the time.

By (By Salah Al Deberky)

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Published: Mon 18 Aug 2008, 1:57 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:06 PM

It's common to see women driving taxis on Fujairah roads now, although the practice is not fully accepted by some sections of the society. Women are now declaring war against social traditions that stand in their way of pursuing education and job careers to earn a living, especially women of families who have lost their breadwinners and guardians.

The women-only taxi project, called Aman (Safety), has undergone three phases. The take-off was humble with two taxis which later became popular with girl students of schools and higher institutions for women.

In the second phase, five more taxis hit the road, bringing to seven the total number of cars in the fleet. The women cab drivers hailed from Fujairah, Mirba, Qidfa and Diba. The taxi service gradually became acceptable to more and more members of the community. Consequently, the Fujairah Charity Society (FCS) started receiving enquiries from UAE women about the project.

The turning point in the third phase was when Damas donated two cars to the project. This gesture spurred other companies and charity organisations to give donations to the initiative to save the destitute families from poverty and to provide these women with other options to increase their income.

These donations have enabled the FCS to increase the fleet strength to 25 taxis now.

Mohammed Saeed Al Raqbani, Chairman of FCS, said the women-only taxi project was part of an overall initiative for development and rehabilitation of needy families.

'We seek, through such projects, to achieve well-planned development allowing families to own feasible economic ventures that bring good financial returns to meet their needs,' he added.

According to him, the FCS offers financial and technical support to uplift these families from poverty and give them the means of sustenance.

Fatima Al Kalbani, Head of Productive Families, FCS, recalled the difficulties in convincing the families during the the launch of the project. 'The families were afraid that they would not be able to pay the instalments of car loans and also about reluctance by people to accept the idea of a woman cabbie,' she noted. The success of the project has encouraged many families to come forward and join the project, she added.

In the beginning, she explained, the service targeted girl students of schools, University of Ajman and Higher Colleges of Technology. As the demand for the service has picked up, the FCS is planning to beef up the fleet.

Some women cabbies spoke about their amazing, gound-breaking experiences.

Halima Khamis, a divorced woman and now a driver from Qidfa, said the initiative appealed to her from the beginning. 'I have six children. I get a monthly sustenance of Dh1,000 and the Ministry of Social Affairs gives me Dh1,250 a month. I earn Dh3,000 from the taxi service, of which I get Dh1,200 after paying the monthly instalment of the loan and petrol charges,' she said.

Ganima Saeed, cab driver from Mirbah, said, 'The income is only Dh700 now but I have the will and persistence to increase it. We are grateful to the FCS for offering a decent job which helps me look after my family of 14 members.'

Amina Mohammed said the idea is good and she earns Dh1,200 a month. 'My savings are not much but are expected to increase in the future,' she hoped.

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