Dubai - Dubai teacher uses winter vacation to serve Syrian refugees

Dubai - Dubai teacher uses winter vacation to serve Syrian refugees
Dubai - Dubai teacher uses winter vacation to serve Syrian refugees

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Iqbal underlined full support extended by his Dubai school staff and students for the noble cause.

While others revel in festivities this winter break, a Dubai school teacher - Waqas Iqbal - is on a humanitarian mission. He is serving Syrian refugees in Reyhanli - a Turkish town bordering Syria - by providing them with food at camps and orphanages. He has also urged other residents to undertake voluntary work as attacks continued in conflict-hit Syria and thousands flee towards the Turkish border.

"The Syrian crisis is at its worst. Earlier, I had only seen haunting pictures and heart-wrenching videos of what had happened. The stories I heard from refugees made me aware about how horrific the crisis truly is," Iqbal, Grade 6 teacher at Star International School in Al Twar, said from Turkey - a country with the world's biggest refugee population.

As he volunteers to assist the refugees, Iqbal underlined full support extended by his Dubai school staff and students for the noble cause.

"The school conducted fund raiser with all staff members. Lots of kids got involved. Even though my students are quite small, when I told them about problems being faced by the people around the world, they expressed their keeness to help. They were all very supportive. On my return, I will share my stories and pictures with the students."

The 25-year-old teacher from Burnley, England, is in Turkey as part of the initiative taken by the UK-based charity SKT Welfare, which runs Springs of Hope Family Centre for Syrian orphans and widowed in Reyhanli. "

I joined the charity group earlier this year. I am the only member from the UAE and the rest flew in from England. We packed and distributed 1,200 food parcels across the city to the needy. It was beautiful to see how happy and content the families were when we provided them with a food parcel that fed a family of five members for a month. It was beautiful to extend a loving hand to those wounded in the battle."

Despite humanitarian efforts, Iqbal noted that violence continues unabated in Syria. "On December 23, Syria was attacked again and more than 80,000 people fled their homes with nothing but clothes on their back," he rued.

"I want to share my story to encourage others to go out. The refugees need us more than ever. With more volunteers, it simply means more food parcels for families in desperate need. They rely on these food parcels five times a year to survive. Let's give more families that support. We all have the chance to make a real difference. We are too blessed not to give," Iqbal added. "This is not my first time as a volunteer and certainly not the last."

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Ashwani Kumar

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