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AUS students renovate and refurbish orphans’ home
More than 90 student volunteers from American University of Sharjah (AUS) changed the world for three young children and their mother by renovating and re-furnishing their old house within a week.
The two-room structure, located in Sharjah, now boasts a refurbished bathroom, a kitchenette, a sleeping area for the children and their mother, and newly furnished living space. It is also equipped with AED 7,000 worth of electrical appliances, as well as new furniture.
The project is part of the bi-annual AUS Hand-in-Hand social initiative that was started in 2009 by the Community Services Unit at the university. The initiative aims at making a meaningful contribution to the community through AUS student volunteers. The project this year was done in collaboration with the Sharjah Social Empowerment Foundation (SSEF).
Ninety two students from a wide variety of majors took turns throughout the week to scrape and fill out holes in the walls, remove old wallpaper, take out broken furniture and worn out mattresses, dismantle closets and beds, remove ceiling tiles, fix and upgrade the kitchenette and bathroom, re-paint the house from the inside and outside, and furnish it.
On the day of the handover, the children and their mother, Salma, saw the renovated house for the first time.
Emotional and at loss for words, Salma said:
“I do not know what to tell you, but this has changed the world for me. My mental and psychological status has greatly improved. I feel so much better. The students have done an amazing job in turning this house into a home for these children.”
Her daughter, who is a grade 10 student and hopes to become an architect one day, was all smiles talking about what the new house meant for her. “Now I can actually invite my friends over to the house; I was never able to do that before. Also, I can now study better in the new space.”
Two years ago, Salma lost her husband to kidney failure, turning her into a single mother taking care of her children. Soon after her husband’s death, the family became part of the SSEF social caseload. The AUS Community Services Unit contacted the SSEF looking for the next Hand-in-Hand project, and found it in this house.
Salma and her children, as well as the children of her brothers-in-law living in the same vicinity received gifts, bicycles, and foodstuff in celebration of the handover.
Azka Tariq, a marketing senior and volunteer with the AUS Community Services Unit, said:
“We took down everything in the first two days. We worked inside and outside the house and had everything cleared out to start anew. We then devoted the rest of the week towards painting, fixing, and furnishing the place.”
She added: “This is my fourth project working with the AUS Community Services Unit. I got hooked the first time I worked with them. Volunteering helped me develop at the personal level and it made me more responsible. I realized that there is more to the world outside the bubble we live in.”
This is also not the first time she has worked for orphans. “I loved working with orphans before, and I am genuinely thinking about adopting or caring for one. I would encourage everyone to volunteer because it will change the way you look at life. We think sometimes that we have a hard life, but then you realize there are people who are not as fortunate as you are and you can make a positive impact in their lives.”
Unlike Tariq, this was the first volunteering opportunity for Nour Walid, a first-year biology major.
“In school, I wanted to volunteer but was finding it difficult to connect with charities, but when I came to AUS it was so easy. I went to the Community Services Unit, signed up, and started working.”
Azrabaijani student Abdul Aziz Mirodilov, enrolled in the AUS Bridge Program, said:
“I remember when my father’s business burned down back home; we had a cow and a chicken. We had to make sure we collected each and every egg because that meant we could have dinner. We need to think of those less fortunate and help whenever we can.”
This is the seventeenth project implemented by the Hand-in-Hand initiative, and the ninth collaboration with SSEF. The project was funded by the AUS’ annual used books sale, as well as contributions from students, their families, and from the SSEF this year.