Green Hope UAE Brings Santa to Labor Camp Residents

December 23, 2014
Spreading joy --- a happy group after the distribution

by Kehkashan Basu, leader of the COE UAE Hub

The chill of winter has enveloped us and has heralded the onset of the festive season. Our city is full of tourists and residents preparing to celebrate Christmas and usher in the New Year. The beautiful decorations, brightly lit shop windows and the pleasant weather are combining to make the coming weeks really memorable for the residents. Yet in the shadows of these bright lights are groups of people who conscientously toil night and day to keep our city clean and beautiful.They work as labourers, helpers, cleaners and janitors and serve one and all with a smile at any time of the day or night, whether it is summer or winter.

Far away from their homes and families, the word festivity is completely alien to them. Christmas is a season of giving and we at Green Hope UAE decided that the best way to celebrate it was to bring some joy to these heroes of our city.

We saved our pocket money and campaigned amongst our friends and neighbours to collect blankets, daily use items, cooking oil, dry food and clothes. The students of JSS Private School and Emirates International School also joined in and contributed several items for this handout. We thenpacked them into biodegradable bags and visited a labour camp in Sonapur where we handed them out to the delighted labourers, explaining at the same time to them, to shun plastic and use eco-friendly bags like the ones which we were handing to them. We were able to reach out to over 225 labourers and we are planning more such handouts in the near future.

One of our group members, Jagrit, a year 8 student, took special efforts to dress up as Santa Claus. The camp residents were very excited to receive Santa and took lots of selfies with him.

Their smiles and thank you's were the best Christmas presents that we could have received. The camp we went to seemed to be quite clean and in good condition, although it did seem a bit cramped. What struck us was the look of longing in their eyes, and most of them spoke of missing their family and children back home. They were unconcerned about the physical hardships, but loneliness was their main challenge. What we did was a small effort that brought work­ers so much cheer.

The UN Millennium Development Goals also known as the MDGs are set to end next year. Yet the most important of these goals, which deals with poverty alleviation, remains beyond our reach. As a youth leader, I feel that we, the “Future Generations” have a defining role to play in creating a sustainable future free from poverty, disease and inequality. Our youth organization, Green Hope UAE, has now grown to over 800 members and our constant endeavor is to engage civil society to promote sustainable consumption so that our planet's finite resources can be utilized for the benefit of all. The post 2015 agenda must be able to realise a life of dignity for all and this is our goal.

Packing in progress
Distribution in progress
Santa comes to town
Santa visits the labor camp

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