Dubai helps Pakistan flood victims: Hundreds from different ages, nationalities pack aid at Expo City

Volunteers as young as eight helped seal an estimated 10,000 food and hygiene kits



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sat 10 Sep 2022, 1:48 PM

Last updated: Sat 10 Sep 2022, 10:38 PM

Hundreds of volunteers from various nationalities turned up at the south hall of Dubai Exhibition Center at Expo City in the early hours of Saturday to pack food and hygiene items for victims of floods in Pakistan.

“It is important that we help our brothers,” said Jimmi Maraya. The Filipino national was packing food items into cardboard boxes as he spoke to us. “I know that the situation in Pakistan is bad, and I am doing what little I can to help.”

It was a hive of activity as people of different ages, some as young as eight, came together to organize, pack and seal an estimated 10,000 aid boxes, which will be shipped to flood-hit areas in Pakistan to help those affected. The boxes included food items as well as hygiene kits and prayer mats.

“This initiative represents what the UAE stands for,” said Hamad Obaid Ibrahim AlZaabi, UAE’s ambassador to Pakistan. “People from various different nationalities, religions and backgrounds have come together for the common goal of helping the flood victims. This is the time to stand with Pakistan and help millions get back on their feet.”

Groups of volunteers were scattered all across the hall doing various activities. Some were in charge of transporting the goods from the holding section to the packaging tables. There were over 10 such tables with volunteers on either side packing in items including sugar, oil, pulses and flour. While some helped tape the cardboard boxes sturdily, others carried the fully packed boxes to trolleys to be shipped off to their final destination.

“Several people from the over 200 nationalities of those living in the UAE rushed forward to volunteer for this event,” said Dr Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares.

“We, as Dubai Cares, decided to partner up with Emirates Red Crescent and Sharjah Charity to pack the aid kits for Pakistan. There are similar packaging events happening at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC) and Expo Center in Sharjah in this first phase. If Pakistan needs more help, we will look at organizing more such events to help our brothers.”

The ‘We Stand Together’ event is one of the first in-person events since the Covid-19 pandemic began. And according to volunteer Shalin Kaladharan, it was exciting to be back to doing what he loves best.

“It has been more than two years since we came together for a drive like this and I am feeling blessed that we are able to pitch in to help Pakistan as I know they need it the most right now,” he said.

Kaladharan, who was the team leader of the packaging section, explained how the event was organized.

“Every department has a team leader and a set number of volunteers,” he said. “We brief our volunteers on what needs to be done. People who come here are very passionate about volunteering, and that shows in their work too.”

The packaging event, which began at 9am, lasted until 1pm. At regular intervals, there were announcements summing up how many boxes had been packed as volunteers cheered and continued packing.

Eight-year-old Ahad was one of those who decorated postcards to be put into the shipped boxes. He was browsing his iPad for designs when Khaleej Times met him.

“I am drawing and colouring to make the postcards cheerful,” said the Grade 4 student at GEMS Wellington School. “I have already finished 10 postcards. I am doing more.”

The Pakistani national was with his sister and mother at the table. “I am glad about this drive,” said his mother, Mahira Zakiuddeen. “I hope this is the first of many. Pakistan needs this help.”

The recent floods have displaced almost 33 million Pakistanis and the UAE has been at the forefront of providing relief for the country.

“Our volunteers have been on the ground every day since the flood hit,” said AlZaabi. “We have sent more than 34 flights to various parts of Pakistan with food and medical aid till now. Yesterday we sent a shipment that will support more than 140,000 families. I have visited several areas in Karachi to ensure that aid is reaching the right hands.”

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