Friends join together to raise funds for drought

Two women are gathering items for a white elephant sale on Saturday that will raise funds for Somali drought victims. Their last sale raised Dh18,000.

DUBAI //Two friends are collecting items for a jumble sale on Saturday to raise funds for the Red Crescent Authority to help Somali drought victims.

Luz Villamil, a 24-year-old Palestinian-Colombian, and Jihad M'nasria, a 26-year-old Tunisian-American, founded Flea-4-Charity in February.

Their first event raised Dh10,000 for refugees displaced by violence in Libya, and events in June and July raised Dh15,000 to provide iftars for 1,600 labourers.

They said it made sense to apply the same fund-raising method to help Somalis.

"As a human being you feel compelled to do something, especially in this case - it's extreme," said Ms Villamil, who works as a public relations consultant.

"We have been blessed in many different ways, while there are others who have not. It's important to consider them and do whatever we can to help."

The pair collect items from friends and strangers to sell at flea markets in Dubai.

On August 6, they raised Dh18,000 for Somalia at a market in Za'abeel Park. This weekend, they plan to set up four stands at the Za'abeel market on which to sell all the items they have collected.

Ms Villamil and Ms M'nasria will be at the Pavilion Downtown Dubai between 8pm and midnight tomorrow to receive more donations.

"People have so much they don't use, especially here in the UAE," said Ms Villamil. People can donate items such as clothes, shoes, accessories, handbags, books, electronics and small pieces of furniture.

"I received 10 new pairs of shoes that were still in their boxes, and even clothes with their tags still on," said Ms M'nasria. "We also had a lorry sent by a lady in Abu Dhabi. It was totally packed and it had to make two trips to bring all the items. It's coming for a third time now."

The items are being kept in friends' garages and homes. "People started calling us to donate furniture, but we can't logistically store that," said Ms M'nasria.

All money made will be given to the Red Crescent Authority (RCA) to distribute in Somalia.

Mohammed Zarouni, the general manager of the Dubai branch of the RCA, said: "In this world, we are all one family and in any crisis people stand shoulder by shoulder. Every help to our brothers in Somalia is useful - whether it's volunteering money or time."

Ms Villamil said the initiative had been authorised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

"It wouldn't have worked without people's support," she said. "We want to show that we are a community and you don't have to leave it up to the big organisations to do something."

Follow Flea4Charity on Twitter or visit

Published: August 16, 2011 04:00 AM


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