NGOs lend ear and hand to workers

Dubai - May Day or not, volunteer groups in Dubai have pledged their time and support to give labourers in the UAE a better life. May 1 is observed as International Workers' Day and is a national holiday in more than 80 countries.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 1 May 2012, 12:59 AM

Last updated: Tue 12 Oct 2021, 5:07 PM

Khaleej Times caught up with a few volunteer associations here in the UAE, asking them if they have anything lined up for today. Though a few organisations have activities lined up for the weekend, some others are concentrating on day-to-day needs of labourers.

What do they do

Vice-president of Valley of Love Joseph Bobby said their work goes on everyday and they are at the beck and call of any person who needs help. The organisation was set up in 1998, and acts as an emergency hotline for blue-collar workers, low-income expatriates and distressed families.

“We have nothing planned as such for May Day. But our work goes on everyday; we try to get to people who need our help. Our biggest problem is that we have a shortage of volunteers during the weekdays. We only have five to six volunteers who come out to help us during the weekdays. Of course, there are several people like businessmen and housewives who can spare time during the weekends, but our nature of work is as such that we need more people during the weekdays,” said Bobby.

“Right now for example, there are a few labourers who need our help. They have been under our care and support for two months now,” added Bobby.

Valley of Love looks into any humanitarian cases that come in and of late, it has been trying to concentrate on cases of families that are in distress. “We have a lot of support from individuals and companies. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time and patience to sit and listen to people in need. All of us have day jobs; we do as much as we can for the workers,” said Bobby.

Lola Lopez from Volunteer in Dubai (Karama Kanteen), an establishment that works towards preparing, cooking and distributing food to men living in the Karama area also said that they have nothing special planned for May Day. Established in October 2008, in the first six months of operation, the project’s volunteers provided in excess of 45,000 meals to those who are hungry or have low incomes or simply wish to receive a hot and healthy, home-cooked meal. “We are trying to find funding. To hand out food in labour accommodation clusters, you need money,” said Lopez.

Rex Prakash from Smart Life Foundation said that they have some May Day activities planned out for the weekend. ‘Adopt a Labourer’ is one such project. “On May 4, we have planned a cultural programme along with a few other projects with the workers and they will be performing in front of the Director-General of the CDA (Community Development Authority,” said Prakash.

The organisation and its volunteers undertake several activities, including visiting labour clusters with professionals and spending time with the workers to give companionship; taking workers for movies; conducting language and education workshops and seminars for the workers; holding spoken English classes; donating laptops; providing them with biscuits and beverages from distributors; and offering personal counselling. The agency also works towards supporting the workers in debt and other financial crisis.

Workers’ Festival begins today

The Dubai Municipality is starting month-long Workers’ Festival today for its over 6,000 labourers. Director-General of the municipality Hussain Nassir Lootah will launch the event at the municipality labour accommodation in Muhaisina 2 at 5.30pm. The festival is being held for the fourth year in a row.

It includes annual honouring ceremony of civic body workers, gift distribution, various cultural activities and entertainment programmes such as music bands, folklore dance performances, free medical check-ups and lectures on different subjects. More than 50 per cent of the municipality’s workforce are labourers employed in 33 departments, mainly Waste Management, Public Parks and Horticulture, Sewage Treatment Plant and Sewage Network sections.

During the month, senior officials of the municipality will visit worksites and distribute gifts to the labourers. The event will also include daily lectures from 5.30pm to 6.30pm, educational awareness programmes, religious competitions, sports tournaments, and cultural, social, religious and recreational activities.


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