Combating coronavirus: No worker left behind in UAE's war on Covid-19

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Combating, coronavirus, worker, UAE, war, Covid-19

Workers can also call the Corona Care Helpline in their own language - be it Hindi, Bengali / Bangla, Malayalam, Tamil, Nepali or English.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Tue 28 Apr 2020, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Apr 2020, 10:31 PM

With around 2.4 million blue-collar workers currently living in the UAE, the country is making sure that - in its battle against Covid-19 - these unsung heroes are not left behind.
Apart from government entities that have put measures in place to shield workers from the virus and its economic impact, charities, NGOs and companies have also come forward to offer them relief amid such an unprecedented situation.
Corona Care helpline
Among them is Dubai-based NGO, SmartLife, which provides training and assistance to thousands of workers.
Recently, it launched a helpline for blue-collar workers to help them deal with issues they may be experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Workers can call the Corona Care Helpline in their own language - be it Hindi, Bengali / Bangla, Malayalam, Tamil, Nepali or English - and seek help for their needs.
"We realised that apart from distributing free food and hygiene products, there could be other things they need help with," said SmartLife president Manjula Ramakrishnan.
"We wanted to give the blue-collar beneficiaries an avenue, a channel to reach out to us. For instance, some of them might have difficulty remitting money back home due to movement restrictions and changed timings. To assist with this, we will connect them to exchange houses that will simplify these tasks to ensure uninterrupted remittances are happening and families back home do not suffer," Ramakrishnan said.
If a worker has any Covid-19 queries or fears, he will be connected to a hospital call centre, where doctors can guide them on the way forward.
We also help them with job loss issues by collecting the CVs of affected workers and passing it on to companies that support recruitment. Needless to add, every service, every initiative is free of cost," she added.
SmartLife has also been distributing free hygiene kits such as sanitisers, masks, gloves, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and shampoo; and also food items such as rice, lentils, wheat flour, oil, semolina, chickpeas and sugar to workers, Ramakrishnan said.
Free smart Covid course
Providing workers with an exclusive platform to learn how to be safe and stay abreast of new guidelines from the government, Dubai expat Abu Muad launched a special Covid-19 course for them via the Smart Labour app.
The app, in which 50,000 blue-collar workers are registered, started the free special course in three languages: English, Urdu and Hindi.
Using the app, workers can report Covid-19 incidents via a simple voice note in any language.
Abu Muadh said he and his team researched and identified four topics that would help the workers understand Covid-19 and stay safe.
"We are giving them a jumpstart kit that will tell them the basic precautions to take; whom to inform if they spot suspected cases; and how to stay clear of fake news. All these topics are covered in short 60-90 second videos," he said.
The app - which is supported by Expo Live 2020, Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund - allows residents to buy goodies through an online gift store, which can later be redeemed by workers by completing short courses for points.
"Support from UAE residents has been amazing. Many residents have bought telecom and food vouchers from the Smart Labour app and liked the idea of supporting workers without going to their accommodation," he said.
2 million iftar meals
Dar Al Ber Society (DABS) is looking to distribute nearly two million iftar meals at workers' accommodations this holy month - five times more than what they usually give every Ramadan.
Since the pandemic situation began, the society has been lending them a hand, especially those who lost their jobs and whose salaries were cut.
Juhi Yasmeen Khan, CSR and charity initiatives expert at DABS, said: "To help labourers in UAE overcome the effect of Covid-19 outbreak, Dar Al Ber Society has been distributing 60,000 Iftar meals every day at various labour accommodations around the UAE.
"The total number of iftar that the society is aiming to distribute is over one and a half million. Although, we distribute iftar meals to labourers every year, this year, the number has been increased by almost five times, considering the Covid-19 situation."
The Dubai Police have also been helping DABS distribute iftar meals, while checking workers' temperatures using their smart helmets. 

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