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AUS students give back to the community during the month of Ramadan
From renovating a family house and securing new Eid clothes for orphans to group iftars and appreciation dinners, students at American University of Sharjah (AUS) marked the month of Ramadan with a series of community services initiatives.
Held in collaboration with the Sharjah Social Empowerment Foundation and the UAE Red Crescent, Hand in Hand is one of the major community services projects organized by Community Service and Outreach at AUS, providing student volunteers with an opportunity to give back to the community.
This year, 20 students took part in renovating a house for a widow and her two children in four days to ensure it is ready for Eid. Working side by side with members from the UAE Red Crescent, the students scraped and repainted the walls, took out the old windows, brought in new furniture, renovated the kitchen and helped re-organize the storage area in the house.
“The experience made me incredibly grateful for AUS Community Service and Outreach for providing me with the opportunity to help people in my community. The house we visited holds a special place in my heart as the woman reminded me of the maternal figures in my life. Standing in her house reminded me of the things that I am grateful for in my life, and I am even more grateful for helping her make the changes she wanted at her place. Volunteering is a reminder of what we are capable of doing and why we come to study in academic institutions in the first place,” said Saleha Saqib, an international studies student at AUS.
The AUS Emirati Cultural Club also took part in the Eid clothes campaign “Kiswat Al Eid” for 40 orphans in collaboration with Community Service and Outreach at AUS, Sharjah Social Services and Human Appeal International Ajman.
“Since the start of Ramadan, the Emirati Cultural Club wanted to take part in a charitable campaign. We reached out to Community Service and Outreach at AUS, which connected us to the Kiswat Al Eid initiative. We reached out to our network of students, alumni and partners to join in. Close to 35 volunteers took part with each assigned a child or two to shop for,” said Hoor Alansaari, a computer science student and the public relations coordinator of the Emirati Cultural Club at AUS.
She added: “This was a fulfilling experience, and I could see in the faces of volunteers how happy they were with the clothes they bought for the children, so imagine what the children will feel. This initiative gave us a glimpse into how different communities live and how we are privileged to be able to help them. Having a volunteering opportunity like this at AUS is wonderful as it helps you meet new people, work in teams and learn something new every day.”
AUS students also volunteered in the Iftar Box Distribution campaign at the main gates and roads of the University City of Sharjah. Held in collaboration with UAE Red Crescent and Community Service and Outreach at AUS, 29 volunteer students distributed more than 800 iftar boxes to people who were on the road during iftar time.
“A lot of times, we see people rushing to get home as the time for iftar approaches, and what we wanted to do is provide them with something simple to break their fast with. We divided ourselves into groups and distributed iftar boxes donated by the UAE Red Crescent. At the personal level, this has brought me happiness because I felt I was giving something to the community and made me feel blessed in Ramadan, not to mention that I learned about coordination because we worked in teams and communication when we speak to the people we are serving,” said Hadj Babouhoun Kerrouchi, a mechanical engineering and mathematics student.
Other initiatives held during the month included an appreciation dinner for 250 cleaning and security staff on campus held in collaboration with the AUS Student Council and a charity iftar for municipality workers in collaboration with the AUS Indian Cultural Club and University City of Sharjah.
“We are happy to see our students volunteer in the many initiatives Community Service and Outreach organizes inside and outside of Ramadan. We are always keen to support social initiatives launched by charity organizations within the UAE, and we are constantly connecting our students with these initiatives,” said Aisha Ali, Community Service Manager at AUS.
She added: “Engaging in community service provides students with the opportunity to become active members in their community and has a positive impact on society at large. Community service enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge, as well as provide a service to those who need it most.”
To learn more about the Community Service and Outreach at AUS, visit www.aus.edu/life-at-aus/student-life/community-involvement.