As part of Volunteer Globally 2014, one of the main pillars of Dubai Cares' community engagement activities, a group of 16 volunteers from the UAE led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares has recently initiated a week-long mission to construct a primary school in the village of Barkamuda in Nepal. In line with Dubai Cares' mandate to eradicate poverty through education in developing countries, the school is set to directly benefit 150 children and indirectly benefit 1,000 officials and teachers in the village.
Summarizing the impact of the trip, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "Volunteer Globally offers the UAE community an exclusive opportunity to be part of something unique and affirming. The group of volunteers that joined Dubai Cares in Nepal worked together as a team and undertook activities such as digging, picking, sifting, mixing concrete, making bricks, carrying water and tying rebar. They also participated in cultural workshops that helped them experience the way of life in Nepal and comprehend its social complexities. By utilizing living quarters close to the community and school, we were able to maximize interaction with the Barkamuda community and emphasize the influence the school will have on raising a generation of educated youth, who can smoothly participate and benefit from a knowledge-based global economy,"
The team, which departed from Dubai on November 8th, navigated through Nepal, from Barakamuda to the village of Likma. In Barkamuda, the group was divided into two teams, and over the course of the trip helped build the school whilst participating in daily cultural workshops such as meeting families from the community to learn more about the culture of the Tharu population, and participating in basket weaving activities. At Likma, the team visited a Dubai Cares-funded school, which is currently helping children and adults in the village rise above deeply ingrained social boundaries through education. BuildOn, one of Dubai Cares implementing partners in Nepal, co-managed the Volunteer Globally 2014 initiative, and along with Dubai Cares monitored the safety and quality of the building process. The group was also supported by a professional construction team from the local community.
Skyler Badenoch, Vice President of New Business Development, buildOn said: "buildOn is thrilled to partner with Dubai Cares, the largest investor in our Nepal program, on their Volunteer Globally 2014 initiative. Dubai Cares and all the volunteers from the UAE brought with them a tremendous amount of determination, hard work, and compassion in order to build a new school alongside the community members of Barkamuda village in Nepal. As one of Dubai Cares partners, buildOn is committed to improving access to education and adult literacy for some of the most remote and isolated villages in Nepal, and we are honored to help provide the logistical and programmatic support for Volunteer Globally."
During the school construction process, Sultan Karrani – UAE national, one of the UAE volunteers that joined Dubai Cares in Nepal commented: "A smile of an ambitious child, a look of satisfaction on an optimistic girl's face, a mother's joy for a future of her children's education... those are the most valuable gifts that the people of Barkamuda village and the surrounding villages in western Nepal presented to us, for our involvement in building a new school. This was a unique experience granted to me by Dubai Cares, to work with an active team from different cultures, nationalities and age groups. The least I can say is that, it renewed a desire in me to extend a helping hand to anyone, anywhere. "
Joshua Nelson – Canadian, another volunteer from the UAE said: "As an educator, I believe that access to education is a basic human right. Unfortunately, for many people living in Nepal, especially the Tharu population, it is not. Many of the men and women in our host families did not have any education at all. Working with Dubai Cares allowed me to see the direct impact that Dubai Cares has on increasing equal access to education. This trip reminded me of how blessed I am to live and work in Dubai. Thank you Dubai Cares and everyone in the UAE that supports its initiatives.
Commenting on her involvement as a volunteer from the UAE, Michelle Smith – Australian, also said: "This has been an interesting experience on many levels; I had the chance to culturally connect with the local population in the villages and interact with the other volunteers on this trip that come from 8 different nationalities living and working in the UAE. To me, this experience has been super rewarding being at the worksite building with members of the community and having that sense of solidarity."
The project was also recorded as a documentary that Dubai Cares is producing to document the impact the UAE community and volunteers are making in developing countries. The documentary will feature the volunteers in action and provide a case study of the work.
"This project brought together a diverse group of people who steadfastly worked towards enriching the life of a community. We hope that this experience highlights the fact that despite differences in geography, religion, social customs, economic standing, we can all help one another and benefit from mutual respect, awareness and education," concluded Al Gurg.
This year, EnerPlastics LLC, a leading Dubai-based company specializing in tailor made Color and Additive Masterbatch for the plastics industry, sponsored Dubai Cares Volunteer Globally 2014 as part of their CSR efforts to support community programs. In addition, Dubai Cares Photography and Videography Partners; Pink Pepper Photography as well as Muddville, respectively, supported this initiative by visually documenting the developments of the mission.