The great thing about living in an international community is that people bring unique skills to pass on to those in need. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities in Dubai.
Before jumping in, consider the amount of time that you have to allocate to volunteering, and consider the areas in which you’d like to offer your services. Energy and compassion are the prerequisites for volunteer work in Dubai.
Working with Special Needs Children
The al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs has a volunteer program that includes orientation and placement. Placement is done in consensus with the centre’s needs and the volunteer’s range of skills. In addition to direct intervention with special needs children, volunteers are also needed for fundraising activities and annual events. Corporations can sponsor special needs children and help pay their tuition.
The Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) needs volunteers to assist teachers and therapists, assist with fundraising, and lend support to social awareness campaigns. Volunteers are asked to come for a minimum of two hours per session, and volunteers who work directly with children are requested to have some prior experience.
Helping Out Those Less Fortunate
Dubai is a city of great wealth; the UAE has the second largest economy in the Arab World. The robust economy has given rise to seven-star hotels, luxury shopping outlets, and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Sadly, there are many in Dubai who struggle with surviving day-to-day life. Many labourers arrive in Dubai already in debt because they have to pay back recruiters the cost of their employment visa.
Some workers find themselves with medical conditions, requiring treatment and medication that is not covered by insurance. Still others are the victims of crime and domestic violence.
SmartLife aims to provide mentorship, activities, and opportunities for blue-collar workers in Dubai, to help them step out of the cycle of poverty. Smartlife arranges “Idol-style” singing competitions and sports challenges.
It is known for the “adopt a labourer” program, whereby a professional in a white-collar position mentors a labourer. Smartlife relies on volunteers from all walks of life to help deliver their programs.
Helping Hands UAE provides care boxes for labourers in Dubai. These contain necessities like toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, and basic clothing. The boxes are packed by volunteers and then distributed within the labour camps on the outskirts of Dubai.
You can contribute by donating money, volunteering to pack care boxes, and providing supplies.
The Valley of Love is an NGO that provides assistance to anyone in need, regardless of religion or nationality. The Valley of Love supports those who may be hospitalized or in legal difficulties in Dubai. They often take on difficult cases and help to repatriate foreign workers. The Valley of Love relies on donations and volunteer support.
Assistance for Women and Children
Dubai Foundation for Women and Children provides safe housing and rehabilitation services for women and children who flee from violence. You can volunteer by filling in an online form with DFWAC. They also accept cash donations.
Ewa’a Women’s Shelter’s priority is to help women, particularly those who are victims of human trafficking. Dubai is a hub for international travel, and there are instances of women being tricked or coerced into coming to Dubai.
These women then find themselves victims of violence and placed in slavery-like conditions because they’ve been trafficked.
Ewa’a Women’s Shelter provides health and psychological care, as well as entertainment and training. They look for volunteers with special skills and experience to help provide services for their clients.
The Ewa’a website also provides information on what to look for if you suspect that you’ve met someone who is a victim of human trafficking.
As the name suggests, the Pink Caravan is a mobile unit that provides breast cancer screening and cancer awareness services to women in Dubai. It hosts a number of events around Dubai, and volunteers can fill out an online form through its website.
Helping Out Our Furry (and Not-so-Furry) Friends
If you’d like to help out with fostering an animal, or adopting a pet of your own, consider contacting the organization or the participating vets who refer animals to these organizations. Financial assistance is also appreciated and goes toward paying for food and vet costs.
The UAE Dolphin Project is a research project that monitors the dolphin population near the coast of the UAE. A healthy population is a good indicator of the state of marine environment. People who sight a dolphin can contact the project in order to have the sighting recorded.
The UAE Dolphin Project is looking for volunteers to help collect data.
Raise Funds Through an Adventure Challenge
Dubai-based charity Gulf4Good organizes adventure challenges, such as hikes, to locations around the world. Participants pay a registration fee, and the funds raised by sponsored participants are then donated to charities in the participating locale.
This is a challenging, interesting, and fun way to support a charity. Upcoming challenges include the Trek to the Kingdom of Himalaya (Bhutan) in April, 2016 and Trek to the Roof of Africa, 2016.
Dubai Cares in an initiative to bring primary education to developing counties. Operations take place in over 40 developing countries, and the website has a form that prospective volunteers can fill out in order to work with the organization.
Donate Money or Clothing
You can also volunteer in your area of interest or specialty using the volunteer form on the website.
Take my Junk will pick up unwanted, broken, and used furniture and refurbish it to sell at low cost to those in need in the UAE. For a list of licensed charitable associations in Dubai, consult the e-services page for the Government of Dubai.