A Sharjah charity's help for pain and poverty in Sri Lanka

The Emirates Effect: Sharjah Charity International has helped organise several medical, education and housing projects for the poor of Sri Lanka, including a mobile hospital treating everything from diabetes to dental decay

Omar Abdullah Al Marzouqi, right, on a field trip in Sri Lanka.
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SHARJAH // A small stick once used by a blind man in Sri Lanka hangs in the office of Omar Abdullah Al Marzouqi.

The aid is no longer needed, said Mr Al Marzouqi, head of the projects section at Sharjah Charity International, thanks to his organisation.

"The man turned up to the charity's free medical services for testing and treating eyes and, after a medical examination, the doctors identified his problem and helped him recover his sight," Mr Al Marzouqi said. "After the treatment, he left the stick he was using to walk to us, saying it did not have any further use."

The charity, in conjunction with another local charitable organisation, the Serendib Foundation for Relief and Development, has organised several medical projects to assist people in Sri Lanka.

Among them was a Charity Clinic that provided free treatment, and a mobile hospital that went to villages to treat the sick, said Abdul Rahman Mohiudin, director general of Serendib Foundation.

The mobile hospital started in 2007 and has treated about 123,060 people for various ailments including arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, worms and dental decay.

With an annual budget of about US$53,000 (Dh195,510), the hospital employs six doctors, five nurses, six pharmacists, three public health inspectors and a lab assistant.

Mr Mohiudin said the Charity Clinic, launched in March last year, has treated 90 patients with ailments such as skin disease and malnutrition. It has an annual budget of $30,000 and is staffed by a doctor and two nurses.

Mr Al Marzouqi said the charities gave hope to the hopeless, treated the ill or dying, housed the destitute and cared for orphans and widows.

"You can only appreciate the role of charity once you work on it or sacrifice," he said. "There is nothing that can bring [more] joy than seeing yourself among those changing the lives of the disadvantaged."

The charity has been involved with several projects in Sri Lanka, including helping Muslims break fasts during Ramadan, providing slaughter animals on the festival of Eid Al Adha, feeding the poor and helping orphans get an education.

Mr Al Marzouqi said their next major project would be building houses for the poor.

"The Sri Lankan government have been very kind and helpful to our projects," he said. "They have already allocated us a piece of land where these housing projects would be carried out, and we are to start on the project very soon."

Abdullah Mubarak Al Dukhan, secretary general of Sharjah Charity International, said: "We have done all that we can to fulfil the trust of good people and reach out to the needy anywhere," he said. "Most of what we take to the needy are donations [from] the good people whom Allah has favoured, and [who] want to share this favour with poor people struggling to live."

He said the charity's doors were open to anyone willing to donate, and those seeking assistance.