By Marianna Wright, Co-Founder of UAE Explorers
When I was back home in Canada, I used to love to volunteer my time in different ways. I would help organize charities or help out at hospitals - things like that. When I got to the UAE, I was lucky enough working at a newspaper that I got to know all the charities and all the different ways to offer your help. I always thought: "One day, I'll go do that", "One day, I'll help out there", or "I missed it this year, but definitely next time".
The thing is, there is always something else we could be doing - some reason why we couldn't help. For me, this needed to stop and I wanted to give others a chance to give back. We all want to, but sometimes the opportunities just aren't popping out at us in time or they don't seem accessible enough to join.
So, here we are now. Today we delivered 450 iftars to people in need. Mohamed was in charge of this. He organized with a restaurant, collected all the contributions from the people and got everyone together to help pack up the iftar boxes with individual meals and then together they handed them out.
Last year we started visiting a dog shelter to help them walk their dogs. We got around 50 people coming out every week! It was great for a shelter that has more than 150 dogs to walk, especially in the summer heat.
Before that, we were always very conscientious of leaving our camping spots cleaner than when we found them. Still, sometimes people would come and leave things behind that the rest of us would have to clean. As organizers, this was difficult - how do we get people to care? We started organizing garbage clean ups. The amount of garbage we could pick up in places that didn't look "that bad" was astonishing. Then there were the beautiful places that really needed it. Trailers full of garbage. This helped drive the message and it unified the explorers in the importance of doing our part for the environment.
There are so many benefits to giving back to our community in these big or small ways. It intrinsically feels good. It heals the soul. There is also something really inspiring and joyful about being part of a group that is all there to help like you.
There's always a way to give back. We can help with that.