As many as 50,000 children in Gaza will have a reason to smile when they see their new school bags. Packed with school stationery and books, the school kits have been put together by thousands of UAE residents as part of a new initiative launched by Dubai Cares.
Hossein Omeid, a student of Philadelphia Private School was among the volunteers who turned up on the first day of the community campaign.
"Most of my classmates have come here to help in the initiative,” said Hussain, an Iranian national.
The school kits include notebooks, pens, calculator, sketchbooks, erasers, sharpeners and crayons among other stationery. The campaign is being hosted under the initiative "Rebuild Palestine. Start with Education.”
The latest round of fighting took a particularly devastating toll on Gaza's youngest and most vulnerable. Families lost, houses destroyed, classrooms razed — the hopes of a young generation were gunned down in the carnage.
Farzana Usman Zarifi, a university student, was upbeat about being a volunteer for the good cause of packing school bags for these children.
"This is the only way I can help and I didn't want to miss it,” remarked Farzana.
Holding three empty school bags in her hand, Farzana set out on her mission to fill the bags with essentials laid out on tables. With 10 tables turning into an assembly line, volunteers walked across a table to fill each school bag with a list of utilities.
"This bag will end up with a child in Gaza who will use these goods to continue going to school. It is wonderful to see so many people turn up for a good cause,” said Farzana.
Once the bags are filled, quality control teams check every bag to count if the right quantity has been packed. The bags are collected into large boxes, before being loaded onto trucks for their onward journey. Dubai Cares is inviting UAE residents to come and volunteer in assembling the school kits.
UAE residents, businesses and schools can register on site at Al Boom Tourist Village in Dubai anytime between 10am and 6pm until January 11.
Dubai Cares will then deliver the kits to the students currently studying in UNRWA schools in Gaza, in time for the start of the second half of the academic year.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares said: "We want to engage the community and help bring back smiles on the faces of children of Gaza. Once loaded, the trucks will head to Jordan via road where they will be handed over to UNRWA.” He added, "We want more people to come here and assemble the school kits.”