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Tolerance summit kicks off in Dubai with moving stories of hope

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on November 14, 2019 | Last updated on November 14, 2019 at 05.59 am
World Tolerance Summit, Moving stories, hope, open, tolerance summit, Dubai, change-makers
Delegates in the World Tolerance Summit.-Photo by Shihab

Promoting tolerance and compassion through her personal journey was another successful and inspiring speaker from India.

Kicking off the two-day World Tolerance Summit in Dubai on Wednesday, November 13, were stories of hope that got everyone in the audience thinking, 'What can I do make a difference?'

Extraordinary change-makers - including an Arab Hope Maker prize-winner and a 'guardian angel' for hundreds of kids in India - took the stage and shared their journey of changing lives and bringing hope to those who need it most.

Telling his story of helping homeless people in Egypt was Mahmoud Waheed Abdelhamid, who won the Dh1-million Arab Hope Maker award in Dubai in 2018 for his humanitarian initiative called 'Together to Save a Human'.

He and his team have been providing assistance to the homeless in Cairo for the last two years.

Mahmoud said his journey started in 2016, when he spotted a helpless man lying on a street with gangrene-ravaged body.

"No one was ready to help him as he had no documents, no money, no home and could not move. He was dressed in shabby clothes, his body scarred and disfigured with severe wounds and infested with worms. My conscience did not allow me to leave him there without helping him," he said.

"I took him, cleaned him, gave him food and somehow managed to provide medical assistance to him. But finding a hospital that would admit a homeless man was no easy task. And more so, finding a home to accommodate an elderly person with no documents to his name, proved to be a huge challenge."

That was when Mahmoud began thinking about all the other people who lived on the streets across his country. He decided to set up Egypt's first home for the homeless elderly and adults.

"We all need to take responsibility of people around us and do what we can to help and uplift them. God will help us in ways we cannot imagine, so let us try," he said.

Every human being deserves to live and die with dignity, Mahmoud stressed.

Educating beggars' kids

Promoting tolerance and compassion through her personal journey was another successful and inspiring speaker from India, 22-year-old Haimanti Sen.

Sen has become the guardian angel for the children of beggars on the streets and slums of Mumbai.

She shared how she beat the odds just to provide basic education to hundreds of underprivileged kids that she found loitering and begging at a railway station skywalk.

Since May 2018, Sen has been on a mission to equip the kids with the necessary skills that will enable her to enroll them in a regular school under the Right to Education act.

Today, she runs a 'school' on the same railway station skywalk. She teaches children the alphabet and how to read, write and communicate, as well as numbers and arts and crafts - all free of cost.

To provide a holistic learning experience for them, Sen recently founded an NGO, Junoon, which strives to create an environment where the kids can grow and live up to their potential.

"We need to acknowledge and respect people who are less than us in any way; overcome the biases and prejudices of society; and become successful in channelling their energy to create a huge burst of light to light up the world like never before.

"These people have a lot of potential that we are missing out on because we're ignoring them," she said.


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