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Emirates Foundation's 'Takatof' Volunteers renovates school during one weekend
2007-04-28 14:40:29
Abu Dhabi, Apr. 28th, 2007 (WAM)---At the weekend, groups of young Emirati volunteers swarmed into the quiet village of Qidfa in the UAE Emirate of Fujairah - to renovate an entire local school between Friday afternoon (April 27) and sunset on Saturday (April 28).

The volunteers were taking part in the launch event for 'Takatof,' a unique UAE community volunteer initiative of the Emirates Foundation.

Hanif Hassan, UAE Minister of Education, saw the volunteers at work yesterday and commented: "The concept of Takatof is very dear to my own heart - I know it will become popular with many thousands of young Emiratis. Takatof will have the full support of the Ministry as it grows and expands." Welcoming the Minister's visit, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Managing Director of the Emirates Foundation, said: "We are grateful for all the support we are receiving from the Ministry. The Emirates Foundation has only just announced this programme, but we have been literally besieged by young nationals, men and women, who are keen to do something in their leisure hours that is practical, and above all helpful, to those deserving society's support." Omar Ghobash, Deputy CEO of the Foundation, explained: "The Takatof programme has been created to develop the spirit of volunteering among young Emiratis. It is a way for them to make a difference to the lives of others - as well as to their own lives - by dedicating non-study time and talent to meaningful contributions to the community." In the 28-hour period from 2 PM last Friday, through to 6 PM on Saturday, more than 140 young volunteer Emiratis cleaned up and renovated all six classrooms, science lab and nurse's station of Qidfa's Zayed Ibn Khatab Primary School - removing old furniture, scraping windows, painting all walls (inside and out), assembling new desks, sorting out the library, setting up new computers and cleaning the grounds.

"We only had this limited time for the work," explained Emirates Foundation Director of Projects, Khuloud Al Nowais. "The Qidfa schoolchildren left the building on Thursday afternoon - and they had to be back there for their studies first thing on Sunday morning!" Juma Al Kindi, Director of the Fujairah Educational Zone, said: "We welcome the contribution and enthusiasm of the Takatof volunteers.

The school staff and pupils will have a genuine feeling of appreciation when they see their buildings made new - not by some contractor, but by older fellow students, donating their own precious spare time." Maytha Al Habsi, the Emirates Foundation's Director of Fundraising and Communications, added: "The Takatof programme is the vision of Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

"He hopes and expects that future Takatof activities will be undertaken in support of children who have special needs, the aged, the sick and the disadvantaged - particularly in cooperation with the many well-established UAE charitable institutions." One key role for Takatof will be to act as a clearing-house for information and for the volunteers themselves - matching volunteers with humanitarian institutions in their home emirates, while offering these organizations access to a steady supply of keen helpers. A dedicated call-centre for applicants has already been set up, in cooperation with Abu Dhabi's Tadreeb National Training LLC.

As the very first Takatof volunteer, Abdullah Al Shamry, explains: "At the core of Takatof is the tremendous spirit of UAE youth volunteers. It is something that our young people will not believe, until they see it firsthand by volunteering themselves!" WAM-MMYS 14 42 CCCCQQE
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