Ramadan is a time that reminds people that love, compassion and generosity are the pillars of humanity. The month of fasting brings the UAE communities together, encouraging them to do good deeds and serve the society. Friday suggests 10 initiatives that allow you to make a positive difference in society:

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1. Buy handcrafted gifts to support the special needs

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If you wish to give gifts that give back to the society then a visit to Al Noor’s Smiles N’ Stuff store is a must. It has a wide range of gift items and the proceeds from the sales go a long way in encouraging and supporting persons with special needs to enhance their craft.

The outlet offers a range of products – from bakery items like cakes, cookies, croissants and muffins, to fashionable bags and accessories. There are also wooden book ends, pencil holders, printed t-shirts and mugs created by students as a part of their vocational training.

People can visit Al Noor’s Smiles N’ Stuff shop in Al Barsha 1, between Sundays and Thursdays 7.30am to 4.30pm, Saturdays 9am to 1pm.

And that’s not all. Al Noor Training Centre for persons with disabilities provides professional care and vocational training to their students and is in need of regular volunteers. There are bi-monthly orientation sessions at their facility on Mondays, where people from the community can register to attend to have a better understanding of what they can do as a volunteer.

Call 04 340 4844 to know the process for volunteering.

2. Help in cancer awareness and cure

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When cancer strikes, the long phase of the treatment not only affects the life of the patients but their family as well. Sharjah-based Friends of Cancer Patients works towards helping cancer patients and their families to get through their long and arduous journey of cancer treatment by offering opportunities to people to lend their support to the cause in several ways including volunteering in awareness events, offering moral or financial support to the patients.

FoCP’s ‘I Deserve A Life’ Zakat campaign during Ramadan allows individuals and organisations to donate money from as little as Dh10 to any amount they desire to help needy cancer patients. The FoCP has a range of moral support initiatives where people can contribute, such as sending gifts to a cancer patient on their birthday, supporting cancer patients to perform Umrah rituals, providing hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss due to cancer treatment.

FOCP’s ‘Give us Hope’ donation boxes are also distributed across the UAE to fundraise for cancer patients are some ways to support.

Dr Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General at Friends of Cancer Patients, FoCP says, ‘From our experience at FOCP UAE, we know the positive effect that moral support has on them and this is something that is magnified exponentially when more people are involved in such supportive activities. For this reason, we launched many programmes that aim to lend a helping hand to those in need from a financial and moral aspect. FOCP UAE Zakat campaign has helped 316 cancer patients during the last 4 years to overcome the disease and finish their treatment journey”.

To volunteer with FOCP, fill the form in this link focp.ae/newsite/volunteer/ or call 050 997 7000, 050 152 7000, 06 506 5542, email: info@focp.ae

3. Brighten someone’s life at hospitals

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Hospitals or clinics look after the needs of people at the time of sickness and there are few things more rewarding than supporting these caregivers in your endeavour to serve the community. Be a part of Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) Mosaadah (assistance) programme where students from college or school can volunteer at the hospital or clinics as per the programme designed by DHA for them and get an appreciation certification for their volunteering efforts.

Mosaadah allows for all UAE residents to participate in the volunteering programme.

Other than students, individuals can register their name and their preference on the number of hours they are willing to volunteer with DHA, enabling DHA to invite them as volunteers to assist at some of their activities or events.

Moussadah committee also raises fund 
to offers monetary assistance to patients with financial constraints. Salim Bin Lahej, director of the Humanitarian and Charitable Affairs Department at the DHA said that the aim of the initiative is to better the lives of the underprivileged and help fund treatments 
of patients with financial difficulties.

Last year, Moussadah committee aimed at raising Dh250million in aid and carry out 49 medicine donation programmes. In the previous years, Moussadah committee worked with various charities and organisations in the UAE and raised Dh67million in 2015 and Dh108million in 2016.

Those interested to volunteer and/or donate, can call 04 2197474.

4. Encourage the special artist

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For art lovers, a visit to Table Talk – the first floor of Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet City Walk – can be mind expanding. This creative space displays 20 artworks including paintings and sculptures made by Mawaheb from Beautiful People – a Dubai-based art studio for Determined Ones (adults with special needs from 16 years and above). The art studio, located in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, helps the determined ones to learn new skills and develop their confidence through the arts.

People can support and encourage Mawaheb’s artists by visiting Table Talk, where their work is available for sale until August 31. Victor Sitali, one of Mawaheb’s students, is chosen to be the artist in residence this summer. He will work from the creative space at City Walk every Monday and Tuesday throughout the summer.

Sandy ElHayek, operations director at Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet – City Walk says: ‘We act as a platform for them to showcase their artwork and give them visibility, and hope that people will buy the artwork as it will support Mawaheb.’

The initiative aims to promote inclusion and will be complemented by talks, workshops, and a cooking class for people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities throughout the year.

For more information call 04 403 3000.

5. Serve as a volunteer for animals

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If you are a passionate pet lover, K9 Friends is the place to volunteer at. The UAE’s first dog rescue group, it offers people the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these loyal mammals. The volunteers of K9 Friends, which works along with the Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Police, have saved thousands of dogs from cruelty and abandonment, ensuring that animal welfare continues to improve.

Jackie Ratcliffe, former managing director and now senior advisor and social media in-charge, says, ‘We rely on the generosity of the public to continue our work. The premises that K9 Friends operates from was gifted. However, the K9 Friends team is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. This along with feeding and caring for the dogs, the huge vet bills and the daily need to raise money, falls entirely on our supporters.’

You can volunteer to help at the shelter and do jobs like bathing, administering medication, socialising/training the dogs and answering the telephone. K9 friends holds volunteer orientations every month and people who have attended, can sign up to help at the shelter. The team also requires help for getting dogs to and from the shelter to the vets in town. Those with a car can offer their support.

Help is also needed at outdoor events, manning stalls, running book sales, organising events or sponsoring dogs, even adopting a dog for life or fostering one for a short while or sponsoring them.

For more information: call 04 887 8739, email: info@k9friends.com or message on K9 Friends, Dubai Facebook page.

6. Involve kids to customise Iftar boxes

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Looking to instill values of charity, selflessness, helping the less fortunate in children? Get them involved in Majid Al Futtaim’s workshop where children will personalise charity Iftar boxes to distribute them to the needy, everyday during Ramadan from 10am to 8pm.

Drop your children at the City Centre Ajman, City Centre Sharjah and City Centre Fujairah malls where kids can get creative and design beautiful boxes that will be filled with Iftar stuff. The customised boxes by children are then distributed to the less fortunate through a partnership with Emirate’s Red Crescent. The initiative aims to spread the message of compassion in children during the month. At City Centre Ajman, all children participating in the workshop will also receive a complimentary pass to Magic Planet (below) to avail three rides.

The workshop is free; call the malls, or visit mall’s websites (citycentreajman.com, citycentresharjah.com, citycentrefujairah.com) and social media pages for details

7. Contribute food and drinks in Ramadan fridges

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Stocking public fridges to feed the hungry and thirsty during Ramadan is a popular initiative that began in Dubai in 2016. Anyone can volunteer in the Ramadan Sharing Fridges programme that operates under the patronage of the Emirates Red Crescent. It encourages people provide fresh food and drinks to the less fortunate.

Fikra Yel, from the organisation committee says: ‘Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you are a happier person. Seeing the smiles, gratitude and expressions of hope on the faces of those you are kind to makes the act of giving worthwhile.’

Information about fridge locations is available on Google maps during Ramadan.

There are several ways for people to contribute to this cause. You can either set up a fridge if there is no fridge in the vicinity; or you can reach out to a fridge manager and share management of the fridge. Alternatively, you can supply food and drinks (like water, fruit juice, laban, milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, packed biscuits but not cooked food) that will be stocked in the fridge.

Even secondary schools can adopt a fridge for a day or a few hours a day to experience the Ramadan Sharing Fridges Initiative life lessons.

More details on the facebook page: RamadanSharingFridges, fb group: Ramadan/Sharing Fridges in the UAE, instagram @ramadanfridgesdxb, twitter @ramadanfridges.

To set up a fridge, email operations@ramadansharingfridges.org to know the process and get your fridge listed on the Google Map.

8. Support kids to acquire education

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Bringing education to underprivileged children is a noble deed as it allows 
less fortunate children to design their lives towards a better future, thereby transforming the world into a better place to live, share and care. Since its inception, Dubai Cares, part of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, is working towards this cause, providing access to quality education to the children and young people in developing countries. Their education programmes 
have reached to over 18 million beneficiaries in 53 developing countries in partnership with UN aid agencies and international and local NGOs.

Dubai Cares encourages UAE residents to work together as a community in solving the lack of education situation in the world, through a series of volunteer, awareness and fundraising initiatives like the annual Walk for Education, Volunteer Emirates, Volunteer Globally and the Ramadan Campaign.

Be a part of their activities this year, register to be a volunteer on dubaicares.ae and volunteers.ae, and be informed of upcoming community engagement initiatives, where you can contribute.

9. Empower the children with special needs

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Time is valuable, and spending it to develop the skills of a special needs child makes you an essential part of creating a better future for them. If this vision is close to your heart, then the Rashid Centre for Determined Ones is the place to volunteer. It provides an integrated education for life for young people with special needs.

If you are 18 and above, you can volunteer at the centre helping with fine motor development, reinforcing specific speech and language goals, and helping the class teacher with the progression of the daily programme.

Frances Crowther, headteacher, Rashid Centre for the Determined Ones, says: ‘Volunteering is vital and gives the volunteer a sense of giving back to the community. In centres such as ours, we always require an extra pair of hands to help the students with tasks during the day, under the guidance of the teacher. It is essential for the community to learn how to interact in a proper way with students of determination. Volunteering will help to inspire others to be familiarised with strategies for interacting and methods that will help to engage these students.

To volunteer, contact Jeanne on 04-3400005 or email on jeanne@rashidc.ae.

10. Make a difference by donating everyday essentials

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Bringing happiness to the less fortunate can often come from simple acts of generosity, like dropping off every day essential items such as books, toys, clothes in designated collections boxes of campaign organisers.

The annual campaign held by OMO and Comfort ‘Share a Touch of Love this Ramadan’ in partnership with the Emirates Red Crescent, invites the public to donate clothes in collection boxes set up at some malls and other places across the city.

The Safa Community School next to Miracle Gardens is one such partnered participant where the collection boxes are located each year, and this year they are inviting people to donate clothes until June 14. School principal Stephen Duckitt says, ‘This was such a great initiative last year that got the whole community to come together for the good of others. In this day and age where people are more inclined to be self-serving, it is important to teach children the value of giving and having a broader view of the circumstances of others.’

For further information, call school on 04 3851810.