Bake sales to donation drives: How Dubai schools are aiding earthquake relief effort

'Bags and bags of donations' as schools overwhelmed by outpouring of support for people in Turkey and Syria

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Families and schools across Dubai have joined worldwide efforts to provide relief after the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

Schools running collection drives have been inundated with donations of essential items to help those in need.

They are working with authorised charities, airlines and the Emirates Red Crescent to ensure the items reach earthquake survivors.

Dubai British School Jumeirah Park has teamed up with Turkish Airlines to deliver much-needed support.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed with what came through from our parent body on Wednesday, just bags and bags and bags of donations," said the school's principal, Rebecca Coulter.

Staff, parents and pupils at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park have come together to deliver crucial support for people affected by the earthquake. Photo: Dubai British School Jumeirah Park

“We had a team of parent volunteers who spent all of Wednesday packing and had more than 300 boxes sent over to the Turkish Airlines drive to get them over to Turkey and Syria."

Families donated warm clothes, blankets, baby clothes, food and products, canned and packed goods, tents, camping equipment, among other things.

“We had over 300 boxes leave the school at the end of the day and then we had a further 100 boxes yesterday," she said.

“I think everyone appreciated the opportunity to come together."

Meeting a growing need

Leigh Girven, principal at Greenfield International School, said her school had close to 30 Turkish and Syrian families and, while none of their immediate relatives had been affected by the earthquake, they had family and friends who had been.

The parents' association at the school led a collection and families were asked to donate warm clothing, blankets, canned food and hygiene items.

"It's very important to us that we support these communities in any way that we can," said Ms Girven.

“We've started already this week and will continue through to next week, and we're looking at doing an initiative where we're going to get one of our school buses to go around the other Taaleem schools and collect any aid that they may have collected and then deliver it to the appropriate government-approved organisations,” said Ms Girven.

“Moving forward, we will really build it up next week because my understanding is that the needs are growing every day."

Support network in place

Aminah Evans, assistant head at Hartland International School, said an urgent appeal was issued to parents on Thursday.

By Friday they had enough donations to fill a couple of three-tonne lorries.

“Parents were bringing things all day and more than 50 pupils on the charity-committee were been packing during their lunch breaks," she said.

"We had the parents, staff, and students all working together to pack all the boxes.

"Parents at the school donated new clothes, new shoes, bedding, blankets, tents, rugs, we've had food items, 10 foods rice, or your we've had baby food, baby milk and, toys."

She said families of some of their pupils had been directly affected.

The school is working with its counsellors to support them.

"With Lighthouse Arabia, there was a webinar hosted by our school counsellors to support those families directly affected so we can give them that support that counsel that they desperately need," said Ms Evans.

Anya Anand, 9, baking cookies to support earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria. Photo: Cherry Pachisia

Family fund-raisers

Kyra Anand, 13, and her nine-year-old sister Anya , have been busy baking cookies since Thursday, which they plan to sell and give the proceeds to Emirates Red Crescent.

Their mother Cherry Pachisia said they were keen to utilise their own talents and hobbies to assist the victims of the disaster.

“So far we have so far we have 200 cookies worth of orders. We have already sold 80 and I have yet another 120 more to bake and deliver," said Ms Pachisia.

“I'm delivering these myself between work. So far we have collected Dh1,000 and we are still baking.

“If people still keep asking us, we will continue doing it. There is no limit to how much you can do and it's such a small effort.

"We have always encouraged our girls to take on a social campaign in order for them to be more compassionate and find ways to give back to the community."

The mother said their family would purchase blankets and socks and donate to the school's collection box set up by The Emirates Red Crescent.

Residents will continue their efforts in the coming weeks.

Rachel Higgins, principal at Gems Jumeirah Primary School said their initiative will start on Saturday and continue until February 25.

Ms Higgins said the tragedy hit close to home for some members of the school population.

"I've just spoken to one of the one of the parents who said that part of their family is from the area, and they have got relatives that have not been accounted for at this time, which is which is obviously desperately sad and worrying," said Ms Higgins.

The school will have The Emirates Red Crescent collection boxes at its premises.

Parents can help out in three ways. They can either drop required items off at the collection boxes, which would be available at the reception. The school will also have a box for cash donations, which has been supplied by The Emirates Red Crescent. They can also make an online donation.

"There are no limits, they can drop off as much as they like, and then we'll arrange the delivery," she said.

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Updated: February 12, 2023, 3:00 AM