Charity is an essential element of Islam, especially during Ramadan. Zakat, which translates as ‘the poor rate’, is one of the five pillars of Islam, requiring 2.5 per cent of each Muslim’s annual income to be given to those less fortunate than himself or herself. Sadaqah means benevolence above and beyond this figure, whether this is financial or in the form of gifts or voluntary service, and during the Holy Month, many people choose to donate extra time or money towards worthwhile causes.
Here in the UAE, there’s a number of charities that benefit from this, plus a plethora of voluntary organisations, NGOs and foundations carrying out fantastic work both here and overseas. Whether you’d like to make a financial contribution or lend some spare time to help, here’s a potted list of groups who will appreciate your help...
Every child deserves a decent start in life, yet 58 million kids worldwide are denied the most basic of schooling. Working in dozens of countries, Dubai Cares supports initiatives to help youngsters get a quality education, with books, pens and even food to give malnourished youngsters the energy to focus in class.
This year, you could help out by eating a guilt-free meal at Nando’s! The fast-food fave’s selling a special Ramadan meal, with all the proceeds going straight to Dubai Cares. Called the Altogether Platter, the Dhs36 package includes spicy mixed olives, roasted veggie dip and hummus served with the chain’s trademark Peri-Drizzle and freshly toasted pita bread.
INFO: To find your nearest Nando’s, call 600 54 25 25 or see www.facebook.com/nandosuae; learn more about Dubai Cares by calling 04 450 4550 or visiting www.dubaicares.ae
Dubai Blood Donation Centre
Blood banks see their stocks plummet during Ramadan, yet demand for their services increases by the day. Just one pint of blood could potentially help save up to five lives, making the decision to donate a no-brainer. Most adults in good health can give blood and clinics carry out thorough checks beforehand, ensuring the process is quick, safe and relatively painless.
INFO: 04 219 3221, www.dha.gov.ae
Affiliated to the global charity Mission to Seafarers, Angel Appeal runs outreach programmes with some of the UAE’s thousands of fishermen, many of whom face loneliness and considerable danger while performing one of the country’s most perilous yet poorly paid occupations.
INFO: To learn more, contact Theresa Dommett on 050 456 1130 or at email@example.com and visit www.angelappeal.com
Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund
The UAE wing of this UN agency supports a host of initiatives in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, from arranging summer camps for young refugees to sending sick and injured kids abroad for treatment.
INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/PCRFUAE, www.pcrf.net
The Adopt-a-Camp Foundation was set up to improve the lives of the thousands of labourers whose efforts have made the UAE what it is today. It’s been running for a decade and now has 53 camps and more than 57,000 men under its wing, typically offering free English lessons and entertainment. In previous years, Adopt-a-Camp’s delivered care packages to some of the UAE’s poorest workers, crammed with soap, razors, sun cream, clothing and prayer mats – you could join hundreds of volunteers to help pack them!
INFO: www.facebook.com/pages/AdoptaCamp, www.adoptacamp.ae
Emirates Red Crescent
This organisation’s currently helping Nepalese victims of the country’s devastating earthquakes, the latest in a long line of crises in which it’s offered vital support. ERC’s affiliated with 185 other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies worldwide.
INFO: 04 883 2233, www.rcuae.ae
Friends of Cancer Patients
The UAE’s oldest cancer charity, FoCP delivers emotional, clinical and financial support to residents with cancer. Funding costly procedures, offering transport and providing prosthetic limbs are just a few of the many services it offers – it’s also behind the Pink Caravan initiative, in which doctors provide outreach work in some of the country’s most isolated communities.
INFO: 06 506 5542, www.focp.ae
Volunteer in UAE
This online portal connects worthwhile projects with willing volunteers. Working with a number of charities and other nonprofit groups, it’s constantly updated and offers activities from second-hand book sales to dog walking and helping mums with babies in jail.
The Sameness Project
Describing themselves as “social innovators”, the expats behind this concept aim to unite people of diverse backgrounds through community-based activities. It recently ran a Water for Workers drive, delivering drinks and health advice to labourers in Dubai.
INFO: www.facebook.com/thesamenessproject, www.thesamenessproject.com
Gulf for Good
This Dubai-based NGO holds exciting adventure challenges all over the world, shaking UAE residents out of their comfort zones and raising cash for hand-picked Middle East-based charities.
INFO: 04 368 0222, email@example.com, www.gulf4good.org