One Billion Meals: Close to 400m pledged

Millions of people in 50 countries helped by UAE-led Ramadan initiative

At least 392 million meals have been pledged in a landmark UAE drive to provide a billion meals to hungry families around the globe, the campaign’s website stated on Monday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched One Billion Meals at the start of Ramadan to keep people in 50 countries from going hungry this holy month.

Individuals, philanthropists and companies throughout the Emirates have come together to make 194,000 donations to the cause.

A pledge of just Dh30 a month will provide 30 meals.

“We have exceeded our expectations,” Sara Al Nuaimi, director of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, told The National. MBRGI runs the programme.

“Ramadan is a month of giving and it is a month of fasting, so we actually feel what other people feel,” she said. “But you can break your fast when other people might not be even able to break their fast.

“This is a month of compassion and giving, and it’s the month where people actually feel other people’s struggle and are willing to support [one another] as much as possible.”

A huge logistical effort is under way to ensure food reaches those most in need. Parcels containing staples such as rice, flour and oil are being distributed in collaboration with several organisations.

They include humanitarian groups in recipients’ countries as well as the World Food Programme, Food Banking Regional Network, and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment.

The One Billion Meals initiative will be extended beyond the holy month, if necessary, to reach its target.

In its first week, the campaign received enough donations to provide 76 million meals to people in need.

Dozens of schools, businesses and government organisations across the UAE are supporting the initiative.

Social media influencers have also joined in, while a new crowdfunding effort, The Giving Challenge, in partnership with crowdfunding platform YallaGive, aims to unite 105 government entities, companies, schools, individuals and educational institutions.

The project also supports efforts to achieve the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal, to end hunger by 2030.

Last year, the UAE set a target of raising enough donations for 100 million meals. It was reached within 10 days.

In 2020, the 10 Million Meals campaign supported communities hit by Covid-19 throughout the UAE.

According to the UN, 25,000 people, including more than 10,000 children, die of malnutrition and related causes every day.

Future initiatives by the MBRGI will include enabling individuals and communities to secure their own food.

“What we want to do right now is to ensure the sustainability of our projects,” said Ms Al Nuaimi.

“We’re trying as much as possible to at least help people below poverty line – people facing malnutrition and hunger by securing something that kind of eases their struggle.”

How to donate

The One Billion Meals campaign website has details of several options for donors.

Money can be pledged online, either monthly or by a one-off donation. People can donate by SMS message through Etisalat or du, or money can be sent by bank transfer.

For big monetary donations and related enquiries, the campaign’s team can be contacted on 800 9999.

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Updated: April 19, 2022, 11:20 AM
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