Article in brief: this interview with Emirati volunteers gives us an insight into the volunteering scene in the United Arab Emirates.
Maimonides says “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” From this quote we learn that the effects of donating are only short term whereas the effects of offering voluntary services are long lasting.
An interview was recently conducted with three of Takatof’s volunteers:
- Halima Juma Al Manqoosh – a 23 years old Emirati with a B.A in International Studies and minor in Communications and Media Sciences from Zayed University.
- Sultan Jamal Al Ameri – a 27 years old employee at Abu Dhabi Police and a university student. He is an avid lover of volunteering.
- Anes Mansour Al Dh’alei – a volunteer at Takatof for the past 9 years and is the facilities coordinator of Takatof volunteering activities in Abu Dhabi.
Sail: Why do you believe in volunteering? To what extent do you believe that it is beneficial to society?
Halima: I believe in volunteering because it makes positive changes in the society. I believe that each one of us, regardless of our backgrounds, have special attributes within ourselves that allow us to contribute effectively and bring the notion of volunteering to a high level. In my opinion, volunteering is a fuel for the society’s spirit, it impacts the social behavior of people, their views regarding how to provide comfortable lives for others, and how we as people can work together and find alternative solutions to solve issues.
Sultan: The field of volunteering symbolizes generosity and giving; attributes which we have learnt from our father, the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. It teaches giving without waiting for personal benefit, to take initiative in creating an environment that invests people’s energies to provide assistance to others.
Anes: I believe that volunteering is beneficial because you are giving back to our country that has given us a lot. It also teaches you to be patient and to persevere.
Sail: According to your experience, how has the UAE as a whole changed in terms of volunteering?
Halima: The phenomenon of volunteering in the UAE is not new; in fact, the UAE’s society has been supporting the concept of volunteering for a long time starting from its culture and tradition that believe in volunteering and helping others. In the past few years, we can see that there are more and more people, particularly the young people, participating in voluntary work not just to provide help, but also to symbolize their love for their country. In addition, we can notice that there are new volunteering centers opening to fulfill different types of voluntary work and tasks.
Sultan: Volunteering has become a leading activity in the Emirati society, as it allows the youth to prove themselves and to leave positive fingerprints in the society. It must also be said that volunteering is an inherited feature in this society, for helping others was the focal point of the lives of our forefathers.
Sail: In what ways can the Emirati society be a more volunteer-orientated society?
Halima: Making Emirati society a more volunteer-orientated society depends on essential factors such as the willingness of a person to be a volunteer; the number of voluntary opportunities that are offered and what does the meaning of volunteering mean in everyone’s minds. To do that, we need to spread awareness among the youth to attract more volunteers working in the many fields available as well as expand upon that with their creativity.
Sultan: Our youth merely need encouragement and positive influence to be more active volunteers.
Sail: What do you do in your time when you’re not volunteering, what made you start volunteering, do you feel you’ve changed since you started?
Halima: Before I became a volunteer I used to spend my time studying, writing stories or helping my friends in their studies. What made me start volunteering is that I wanted to gain skills; it was the time to discover my interests and what I’m passionate about. Volunteering was one of the best ways to achieve those goals; it helped me to overcome my weaknesses and since I started volunteering, I feel that I have changed and became more confident and able to communicate effectively. Now volunteering is part of my life. I believe it is one of my specializations in which I can take initiative and be creative to benefit the society.
Sultan: Before I got into volunteering, I used to kill time in useless activities. However, volunteering taught me how to achieve my goals and use my time effectively.
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