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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 30/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) It?s easy to do good when there is a reward at the end of it but to be a volunteer you need to have the heart to give without expecting anything in return.

she is at an age where many of her contemporaries are still clueless as to where their life is headed. but for 28-year old emirati fatima al kaab an executive at dubai customs authority her life’s mission was pretty clear from the moment her sister mariam was diagnosed with down syndrome. while people in general are fearful of interacting with those suffering from any kind of disablity mainly due to lack of knowledge about the issue this fear was what motivated fatima to become a volunteer to spread awareness and acceptance of those less abled than ourselves.

now a volunteer for the past eight years fatima al kaab has travelled the world helping others including a trip to shanghai as part of an official uae volunteering delegation. as a caregiver fatima is aware of the many challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. “the effort put forth by the caregivers individuals who simply want nothing more than to give back to others in need is phenomenal” says fatima who has been roped in by panadol arabia as their true hero ambassador to help spread their views on the importance of volunteering in this day and time. here we speak to fatima about her motivation and what it takes to be a volunteer in the uae.

what does it mean to be a true hero representative?

the initiative behind panadol’s true hero campaign is to seek and celebrate everyday caregivers with selfless acts. it’s imperative to support such a meaningful campaign as it is the driving force encouraging people to live and lead by such an example. it truly is an honour to have been selected as a true hero representative and i look forward to see who the next candidate will be.

in your personal life who is it that you look up to for inspiration?

different people inspire you to do and achieve various goals in life. my mother’s generosity and continuous support has inspired me to give more and expect nothing in return. his highness shaikh mohammed bin rashid al maktoum vice-president and prime minister of the uae and ruler of dubai has inspired me and the next generation of emiratis to dream big and achieve our goals.

what prompted you to become a caregiver?

my sister mariam. having a sister with down syndrome i was always eager to educate those who were not aware of what it really is. i regularly attend club meetings and trainings as well as participate in activities that support and empower those with down syndrome. many people are at times scared to deal with those who suffer from a disability – this fear is what motivates me to volunteer and spread awareness and acceptance.

what’s the most rewarding aspect of your role as a volunteer?

the gratifying feeling of making a positive difference to our society. everyone should be motivated to carry out an act of kindness as the joy it brings is truly rewarding.

how much of an impact has the uae and its leadership had on your choice to be a volunteer?

the uae government is globally known for its numerous humanitarian efforts. our father sheikh zayed bin sultan al nahyan has set a prime example for others to lead. generations have and will continue to follow his example and leadership values.

if there’s one thing you could change about the society around you what would it be?

wider media exposure to stress on the need for global humanitarian efforts. if people are aware of the various volunteer initiatives there are in the uae it might encourage more and more to take part. it’s important that media outlets continue to play their part in educating society and making them aware of the various initiatives taking place and how anyone can make a difference.

based on your experience as a volunteer for the past eight years could you share one incident or experience that had a major impact on your life?

a three-year-old boy khalifa was in a terrible car accident that led him to spend his childhood years in hospital beds – unable to move or walk. after numerous visits i became quite close with his family especially his mother. khalifa’s one wish was to walk into the hospital garden and glare at the sun. as much as i tried to make that wish come true financial constraints prevented his family and i from purchasing a mobile bed. it is with great difficulty that i could accept khalifa’s passing – and even more difficult to accept that his wish was never granted.

what according to you does it take to be a volunteer/caregiver?

volunteering is not as difficult as it may seem. society has taught us to always expect a reward after completing a good deed. however those who do good and ask for nothing in return will be utterly satisfied. it takes real humanity to be a volunteer.

how do you like to spend your free time? what are your interests outside work?

my greatest passion aside from volunteering is horse riding and photography. for the past eight years i have been documenting all my experiences through photographs. i use those photos now in a more creative and artistic perspective to tell my stories as well as others.


Khaleej Times

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