UAE residents urged to back Turkey-Syria earthquake donation effort

Collections held this weekend at Al Mawakeb School and Alserkal Avenue in Dubai

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Dubai residents are being urged to not forget the plight of earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria and to pledge their support to donation drives being held this weekend.

More than 44,000 people have been killed and millions more affected by the natural disaster that struck last week.

The United Nations on Thursday launched a $1 billion appeal to help more than five million survivors of the devastating earthquake, the largest to hit Turkey in a century.

Former pupils at Al Mawakeb Schools have teamed up with Emirates Red Crescent to organise a drive-through donation event at Al Mawakeb School Al Barsha on Saturday.

A similar collection got under way at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai's arts and culture district, on Friday and will continue until Sunday, with people able to give cash as well as essential supplies.

'Keep Turkey and Syria in our minds'

Alissar Nasr, chief academic officer at Al Mawakeb Schools, said it was crucial that people showed their support, even as media coverage of the tragedy inevitably diminishes.

“Let's not forget. We have a tendency to get very enthusiastic about campaigns like this one, when the disaster first happens," she said.

“Then throughout the few weeks that follow, we tend to forget and put it in the back of our minds.

“We need to remember that it's something that's going to affect them for a long time. Let's not forget, let's keep them in our minds.”

Ms Nasr said people needed to continue their support for earthquake victims.

On Saturday, almost 150 people, including Dubai Police, will be working and volunteering at the school’s drive-through campaign.

Ms Nasr said their target was to get more than 50 tonnes of goods.

She said they chose to do a drive-through because it was efficient, convenient and included the whole family.

“It's a drive-through. That's what makes it unique in terms of comparison to what others are doing," she said.

"What also makes it unique is the fact that it's driven by our alumni.

"When you come to donate, you don't have to get out of your car and you don't have to worry about the crowds. You go through, you drop in and people will be there to take the stuff from you, and you drive out of the school. It's that simple.

"If you want to teach your kids about giving, this is an opportunity to do that. We want to teach our children to have empathy.”

Majid Al Shaibani, a former pupil at Al Mawakeb School, said he launched the initiative to help others.

“I graduated 12 years ago. And there are people who graduated 20 to 25 years ago, and we still meet when something like this happens and when we need to help people,” said Mr Al Shaibani, an Emirati who works for Dubai Police.

“It's so heartwarming to see our school supporting this as we continue to put these values into action.

“We wanted it to be as easy as we could make it so we decided on a drive-through.

“Our goal is to collect initial items such as food, clothing and medical supplies to provide some relief to the affected families. We are getting some calls from people who want to donate bulk orders.”

Determined to help

On Friday, people were already making their way to Alserkal Avenue to lend a helping hand.

“I saw the advertisement online with my country’s webpage so I wanted to come down to help," said Kai Kulbayev, 33, a stylist from Kazhakstan who lives in Dubai.

“I have been trying to find ways to donate this week but I have been very busy.

“My friend came with me because we want to drop off some things that people need, like food, rice and noodles and some baby products, like diapers, for the babies.

“I know they need this stuff, I only wish I could help more.

“Life is short and we have to help each other. This could happen to anyone, no one knows.

“Because I am in a position to help I felt like it was my duty, I have told my friends and hopefully they will also donate even small items to help a family.”

Eddie Ryan, from Ireland, who works at Middlesex University in Dubai, felt compelled to help after watching news reports of the earthquake.

“We have all seen the footage on TV and read the newspaper reports, so it is clear how devastating it has been,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is imperative for all of us to help out. I have seen a list of what is needed, so we will give what we can.”

What can you donate?

People can donate cash at Alserkal Avenue.

At Al Mawakeb School and Alserkal Avenue, people can also donate items such as family-size tents, sleeping bags, folding bags, blankets, portable heaters.

Other essentials include perishables such as baby food, baby formula, powdered milk, canned food with an expiry date no less than six months, and non-perishables such as hygiene parcels including toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap bars, shampoo, nappies for babies, winter clothes.

Updated: February 19, 2023, 4:23 AM