Negative press coverage has plagued the labor camps in Dubai and the UAE for the past 10 years. Operated by construction companies that build the glorious buildings of Dubai, these camps are populated by laborers from impoverished Asian countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Some camps have been cited for their abominable living conditions and inhumane treatment of the laborers.
|Saher, her son and her "boys"|
|Mary Beth Hickey & John Diadem with Prickly Heat Powder|
After three weeks, I face the realization that I was not going to make the goal. At first I was disheartened. I just hate to fail! However, looking on the bright side, I decided that this first effort was a “cultivation” effort that would reap greater rewards the next time.
And then there was THE NIGHT to volunteer to assemble and deliver the packages. OK, so all 33 donors did not come out at 9 PM to assemble the packages but 5 of us went and it was awesome.
|"My Hero" Roger Foster|
|Linda Hoagland, Jani & John Diadem with other volunteers|
|Layla helps distribute "care packages"|
Saher says to her dedicated volunteers, "You have brought a smile to their faces, hope to their hearts and dignity to their souls. You have given them the greatest gift one human being can give another . . .you have cared. Adopt-a-Camp flies on your angels wings."
|Saher gives instructions to volunteers Layla, Tarek and Hafilda|
Other initiatives of Adopt-A-Camp . . . The camps Adopt-a-Camp takes care of come under two categories: functioning and abandoned. Functioning camps are the permanently adopted ones where they work with the camp administration to enhance the lives of the men by providing free English classes, free vocational classes, emotional counseling, hygiene workshops, outings so that they can actually have some wonderful experiences. Abandoned camps are more of a recent phenomenon- since the financial crisis of 2008. Those are camps where the employers have absconded, usually leaving the men with no food, water, electricity and months of un-remunerated salaries. We take care of them in every way until they find work with another company or until they safely return home.
Funds awarded to Saher by Kraft-Philadelphia from their Most Inspiring Woman in the Gulf competition, have created the Saher Scholarship Fund that enables bright graduates of the English classes, organized by the International Aid Association at American University of Dubai, sit for the IELTs exam. Having an internationally-recognized accreditation under their belt results in tremendous increase in their salary potential, job opportunities and even opens up the door for emigration.