I took a break from preparation for 7th May 2015, when I should have been writing a Press Pack, to do something 100% worthwhile. Instead I started an ongoing charity cake event to simultaneously liven up Sundays in the office (the first day of the working week in the Middle East) and raise a regular sum of money for an extremely good cause:
#AMARSnackSundays: Week One alone raised more than $200 (enough for AMAR to pay for 4 family food parcels or 10 high quality winter blankets or 100 medical consultations). If you like the idea, please consider starting something similar in your workplace, it has certainly been fun here so far!
I work in an engineering contracting company in Dubai, on a project for a multi-national oil company based in the Netherlands and the Iraq Ministry of Oil to upgrade one of their huge oil and gas fields near Basra in Southern Iraq. Today we (the staff working on the project in Dubai) started an initiative to try to help the people of Iraq directly at the same time.
Since I started working on this project in February 2014; I have been horrified at the significantly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq. I have hurt for the million+ people who have lost their homes, schools and livelihoods and I have wept for the many thousands of dead or missing men, women and children and their destroyed families. There are no adequate words to express the horror that has befallen ordinary people in Iraq in 2014. My colleagues are lucky – our site is in Southern Iraq. Other companies have lost unknown numbers of staff, western and local when the Northern Iraqi fields and Baiji refinery fell to ISIS. So many are still missing.
From this horror have emerged some true heroes. Like Alan Henning, who was brutally murdered by Islamic State in Syria, there are thousands of equally courageous individuals who risk a similar fate on a daily basis to help people in desperate need.
The AMAR Foundation is one of the very few organisations still operating in both Basra and in Islamic State controlled areas, so through them aid can reach those in the very greatest of need. AMAR has been in contact with the highest level management of my company here in Dubai, but the executives have taken months to think about what the company could do to help.
The people of Iraq need help NOW (or yesterday, or really in June, when Islamic State took half the country in a week). So I started an initiative in our office inspired by the success of the recently viral ice bucket challenge.
#AMARSnackSundays Rules are very simple:
- Team 1 brings in snacks on a Sunday, then nominates Team 2, of their choice, to bring in the snacks the following Sunday,
- Team 2 brings in snacks the next Sunday, then nominates Team 3,
- and so on…
Snacks can be anything from your favourite traditional homemade snack, to ordered in doughnuts.
Donations are simply collected in an honesty box and people help themselves to a snack.
100% of the money raised is then forwarded directly to the AMAR Foundation.
WORKING DIRECTLY WITH THE AMAR FOUNDATION
“#SnackSundays is raising money to support the various projects of the AMAR Foundation, which has been working for over 22 years to provide vital assistance to communities affected by conflict in the Middle East. In that time, AMAR has supported millions of men, women and children across Iraq in a variety of different ways from providing health care, education and clean water, to kindergarten services, sports days and festivals.
Today, Iraq is suffering a major humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that 1.8 million people have been displaced from their homes across Iraq. In Dohuk alone, there are estimated to be 800,000 refugees – a number that almost doubles the region’s population. In Najaf, an estimated 80,000 people are living on the roadside between the Holy City and Karbala, taking shelter anywhere they can including schools, factories and half-finished buildings. AMAR’s teams across the country are doing everything they can from distributing aid items, such as food parcels, hygiene items and blankets, to building and equipping health centres where they are most needed.
By using local teams and sourcing local supplies, AMAR can make your donations go a very long way. A medical consultation costs as little as $2, a high-quality blanket for winter costs just $20, and a food parcel to feed a family costs as little as $50.”
Head of Fundraising
If you like this idea please join me in helping AMAR, or a charity of your choice, using #AMARSnackSundays and posting pictures of the fun on social media. Little people can make big differences!