Dubai Ramadan charity campaign replaced with labourer wish list idea

This year Adopt-A-Camp’s Ramadan Care Packages appeal is not taking place but people can still help through the newly launched Project Wishlist campaign.

Saher Shaikh, the founder of Adopt-a-Camp, says the charity group faced logistical problems this year, which is why they devised Project Wishlist. Sarah Dea / The National
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DUBAI // An annual Ramadan charity appeal to improve the lives of labourers will not take place this year, but members of the public can still fulfil the workers’ wishes through a new campaign.

In past years, thousands of volunteers gathered at the World Trade Centre in the early hours during the holy month to pack and deliver care packages to labour camps across the emirate.

But this year, charity group Adopt-a-Camp will not be holding its annual Ramadan Care Packages appeal because its usual venue, the Sheikh Rashid Hall, will be under renovation.

It has, however, launched the Project Wishlist campaign for members of the public to donate items that labourers request.

Saher Shaikh, the founder of Adopt-a-Camp, said the group did not manage to find an alternative venue as large as the Sheikh Rashid Hall, which allows care packages to be loaded into lorries.

Although Adopt-a-Camp has considered holding its appeal drive on July 23 and 24, it decided against it because Eid Al Fitr is expected to take place shortly afterwards on July 28 or 29.

The charity says it will hold its Ramadan Care Packages appeal next year. “Project Wishlist is our attempt at bringing a little joy into the lives of the men in the camps,” said Mrs Shaikh.

“We went and asked the labourers, if they had a wish, what they would want?”

Their responses ranged from the small to the surprising.

“Labourers in the Al Awir area of Dubai, for example, wanted 12 adult-sized bicycles,” said Mrs Shaikh.

“The labourers are just so humble, and even though we try to explain that they can wish for anything, they’re going for the most modest wishes.”

Another camp requested iftar meals every day of Ramadan.

“We told them they could have something else on their wishlist and so they asked for two dates with each meal,” she said.

“The camp is made up of about 50 men and although iftar prices vary, Dh15 per meal would make for a substantial meal.

“Anyone wanting to help can drop the meals off directly or through ourselves and we can help them to connect with the camp in either case.”

Adopt-a-Camp plans to roll out Project Wishlist to 52 camps in the coming weeks.

Mrs Shaikh said although her group was not able to organise the Ramadan care packages this year, members of the public could help by supporting the wish-list appeal.

“Although small, these things can make a huge difference to the well-being and morale of labourers during Ramadan,” she said.

Saeed Akmal, a 27-year-old Indian expatriate, said Project Wishlist was a good way for the public to aid the workers.

“It’s an interesting way that people can help labourers because with most charities when you donate you don’t really know where the money is going,” he said.

“But with this, it’s very direct and you know you’ll be helping in a very specific way.”

More wish lists will be added to the Adopt-A-Camp website and its Facebook page over the coming weeks.

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