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AUS students adopt orphans for a day
As part of American University of Sharjah’s (AUS) efforts to meaningfully engage with members of the community, more than 50 students spent a full day volunteering with orphans ages five to 10 as part of the Adopt an Orphan for a Day initiative, organized by the university’s Community Service and Outreach office.
In collaboration with Sharjah Social Services and the Big Heart Foundation's Rawafed Center, students were paired with an orphan for a trip to the Sharjah Safari Park.
“It was a great experience. In the process of making someone’s day, I felt it made mine as well. I felt kindness all around,” said Usama Siyal, an economics major in his final year at AUS.
Describing the experience, he said: “Early in the morning, I assembled with the volunteers near the AUS Student Center where we were to be paired with the kids for the day. I was paired with a very bright 10-year-old girl. We had fun from the start, and we got to know each other on the bus ride to the safari park. She was fond of writing and drawing. We watched cartoons and even spotted camels on the way. At the safari park, we saw various birds and wild animals. We also grabbed ice cream to cool off when the day started to get a bit hot and, on the way back, we stopped at Matajer for a quick lunch,” recalled Siyal.
Hoor Al Ansari, a computer science major in her final year, said the experience was fun, especially that the safari trip allowed students to bond with the kids they were paired with.
“I was paired with a 12-year-old boy who was not interested in being paired with a female student, so it took time for him to warm up to me. Eventually we started chatting together. We talked about our interests and slowly, but surely, we bonded. At the end of the trip he told me he was glad he was paired with me, which really made me happy,” she said.
Al Ansari added: “This experience made me appreciate the things I am privileged to have. Also, I felt how warm these children are and how sweet. The boy I was paired with had a twin brother, so when we went into a shop to buy some snacks, he asked me if he could get some for his brother and I did not think much of it and we got the snacks. Later on I saw how happy he was to give his brother the snacks he knew he loved, and it filled my heart with so much warmth. To see children in these situations and to also see them sticking together and taking care of one another showed me how pure these kids were. The main goal of that experience is to make the children happy, and the fact that we managed to achieve that is something that will stay with me forever.”
Siyal said he would be happy to participate in the program again.
“One thing I’m grateful for at AUS is the volunteering opportunities the university provides. I have always liked participating in community service events, and the Adopt an Orphan initiative is a great one,” said Siyal.
Al Ansari also urged students to consider volunteering with Community Service and Outreach programs.
“I would encourage students to participate in such an initiative because it is an experience of a lifetime that they may not get anywhere else. No matter what their situation is, the children are filled with positivity, and we need to cherish that,” said Al Ansari.
The AUS Community Service and Outreach office offers programs that enable students to experience the joy of helping others and giving back to society. Students can select from a diverse slate of volunteering opportunities that help them develop a sense of social awareness and see first-hand how they can have a positive impact on their local community.