Virtual volunteering: NYU Abu Dhabi shares ways people can help while staying home

The university's 'Virtual Do Good Guide' promotes community engagement in the time of Covid-19

NYU Abu Dhabi students attend the Autism Education Conference, organised by the university's Office of Community Outreach, in April 2018. Courtesy NYUAD
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As the number of global coronavirus cases climbs to more than 3 million, the pandemic continues to cause devastating societal disruption. The situation can feel paralysing for individuals searching for ways to help local and international communities, but must follow stay-at-home orders.

In response, NYU Abu Dhabi has launched a Virtual Do Good Guide, which lists virtual volunteering opportunities, resources and ideas towards social good that people can take part in from home.

Created by the university’s Office of Community Outreach, the platform aims to instil greater civic engagement and a chance for the public to find social connection despite being in self-isolation.

"This current global health crisis has shown us that it is more important than ever for us to choose our common humanity over individualism. This virtual guide is rooted in this very spirit … In moments of crisis, people can and will find creative and new ways to support one another,” said Suparna Mathur, the director of the community outreach office.

Among the list of 16 global volunteering resources is Translators without Borders, a non-profit organisation that advocates for public information through translation. Their efforts against the pandemic include translating health-related information for certain populations, monitoring social media to track and stop the spread of fake news in different languages and building a multilingual glossary of key terminology for Covid-19.

In addition, the United Nations Online Volunteering Tool categorises volunteer opportunities by skill and connects users to UN-affiliated initiatives from around the world. For example, artists and designers can help create infographics and social media content for foundations, while writers and editors can proofread guides and reports.

NYU Abu Dhabi’s guide also has a section dedicated to at least 12 UAE resources, including a list of fundraising campaigns run by various local organisations. These include the Dubai Cares "Education Uninterrupted" campaign, which gives donations to children of low-income families in the UAE who do not have the means to purchase computers or laptops needed for distance learning.

The guide also features a Conscious Learning section and information on virtual events, including an upcoming online talk from MSF or Doctors without Borders about the pandemic on Sunday, May 3. Another section includes DIY project ideas that can be done from the safety of home: writing cards for the elderly, composing emails or letters of hope for children and loved ones and surveying closets for items to give away to those in need.

Currently, NYU Abu Dhabi is also accepting resource and idea submissions from the public that will be reviewed and may be added to the guide.

More information can be found on the Virtual Do Good Guide website.