By Mohammed Kazim (@MAKazim)
Broken wooden cabinets, an old rusty fan, dusty torn rugs, and flickering light bulbs surrounded us in what Ayesha calls home. This stuffy 50 square meter non air-conditioned space with rows of palm tree fronds used as a ceiling is home to Ayesha and her family of 5. Being the sole provider for her family, Ayesha works in a leading global super market chain and earns approximately AED 2,000-3,000 a month, which ends up being consumed almost instantly on rent and food expenses for her family. Every month she prays that miraculously she can survive until the next pay check. This is the story of Ayesha, a middle aged Emirati mom, living in the Northern Emirates.
While we proudly boast about the amount of aid that the UAE and its residents provide the world, it is important to realize that not everything is rosy and promising here at home. The reasons this comes as a surprise to many are various and may include the lavish lifestyles of the UAE, the generous benefits distributed by the rulers, as well as the lack of media’s attention to cases such as Ayesha’s. Furthermore, the factors leading to such situations are also various and could potentially be deemed sensitive (maybe we should leave it to our Federal National Council -FNC- to discuss). What is important and what I am sure you will agree with me on is that cases such as Ayesha’s need help and need to be addressed.
I believe that people like you and I, who may have a more comfortable life, can help fill the gap with solutions that will allow the people in need to survive until the issue is addressed at a larger scale. In order to be able to help in the most effective manner, I believe we need to strive and dedicate our time and wealth through three different parallels.
First, and the most obvious, is to identify where these people are and what exactly are their needs. We could reach out to charities that work locally and read about their selection criteria, their reach, and the speed of delivery. In addition, we could also go a step further by not relying solely on charitable organizations (due to bureaucracy that may make them less efficient than one would desire) but also by asking our families and friends if they know people who are in need of assistance. Once the people are identified, the next step would be to identify their needs (whether it is food, clothing, tuition fees, appliances, loan or utility bill payments, etc.). Once the needs are identified, they could either be supplied directly or financial aid can be given to them in the form of cash.
Second, and the most crucial, we need to find ways to create sufficient sustainable income for these identified families so that they may be able to rely on themselves. We could dedicate our time to teaching skills they require to obtain better jobs, advise them on how to create sustainable businesses through talent or skills they may have, create or identify jobs where they can be employed, and be involved in managing their income and advising them on how to reduce their expenses. This step is the most crucial because it allows those in need to feel independent and also gives them a sense of belonging in the larger society. This has a significant impact on their personalities, their children’s development, and the greater society.
Third, and the most impactful, is to spread awareness of cases such as Ayesha’s in our society. We could begin by discussing these issues and inviting others to join efforts in making sure we dedicate some of our time and wealth to those who are less fortunate.
In summary, the UAE is not exceptional when it comes to poverty and has evident cases of people who are in need of immediate help. In order to reach out to these families and address their needs effectively, I believe that people like you and I can make the most difference by working on these three different parallels. By identifying the ones in need and their requirements, finding ways for them to be financially sustainable independently, and spreading awareness of their cases, we can significantly reduce poverty in the UAE and contribute towards a larger scale solution from the country.
Sail eMagazine’s 20th Issue – November 2011
Here we start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration
Blunders of a Wannabe Entrepreneur – Just Another Undergrad – Society of Tomorrow
Too Blunt for Words – To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Mohammed’s bi-monthly column aims to openly and honestly target issues around the native culture, society, religion, economy, and policy that have resulted as a consequence of the constantly changing demographics of the region. The column is characterized by a point-like articulate approach that gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the discussed issues.