Eid Festival for Laborers

Labor of Love – A play by play

After months of planning, the time had alas come to shake hands with our neighbors and say “Eid Mubarak!” This year we decided that on the first day of Eid we’d celebrate by heading to the Regency Labor Camp in Al Quoz, Dubai to give them a festival to remember!

Our team arrived early that day to start setting up the stage, lights, truss and chairs followed by sound checks and rehearsals for the performers. Despite the fact it’s summer in Dubai, and the event was outdoors, the volunteers plugged away in the heat without skipping a beat!

Once the technical rehearsals were over it was time to load-in the food and beverages. Tables were set up as the volunteers carried in boxes to bring to each station for distribution.

A buzz started to build as Bollywood music played from our speakers and the smell of karak chai and spices spread. Our emcee for the day, Rohit Jayakaran, made an announcement telling the men it was time for the festivities to begin and they started to line up.

Each man went from station to station. The first had fresh juices provided by Barakat – Fresh & Easy. The second stop was samosas and pakoras provided by Dubomedy. The third was yummy sticky rice from Tuwar al Madina Traditional Kitchen ending with karak chai provided by Cha Cha Chai.

After everyone was served and had a chance to eat, we started the show!

The program consisted of a Magic Show by Magicians in Black, a Beatbox set by Richie Lozada Hiranandani, Break Dance by CL Frostyle Trasmaño and crew, Music by Anupam Nair and band, contests and prizes all held together by the funny Rohit Jayakaran.

Everyone’s bellies were filled with great food, laughter and cheer! Being able to give back to these hard working men was a wonderful way to spend Eid!

Special thanks to Etihad Airways for providing two air tickets for two lucky winners to go home and visit! Many thanks to Alcatel Mobile for giving us two smart phones to use as competition giveaways. In addition, gratitude goes to Event Serve for providing 300+ chairs, Al Laith Scaffolding for much needed truss lifts, Stambroz for video, Gavin Allana for photography and all the volunteers for their time and passion! Without all of you this event wouldn’t have been such a success!

If you would like to get involved in further events please join our Volunteers Group. Stay tuned for more photos and footage on our Clowns Who Care main-page.

Eid Mubarak! May the spirit of giving back continue each and every day!

eid fest

 

SENSES Center – Iftar and Party!

Ramadan Fun
By Mina Liccione

On Wednesday, June 29 we headed back to one of our favorite places in Dubai, SENSES Center for children with special needs.

This time around I wanted to do something a bit different. Rather than having our group perform for the kids, I decided to lead a circus arts workshop so that the kids could try new skills and in turn perform for each other.

I ended the workshop with a special sensory arts therapy session that incorporated a gentle underwater theme. The series of exercises induced laughter, wonderment and sensory exploration.

A special thanks to Els Huybrechts and her group for organizing the crafts and iftar that followed. It was a wonderful event and everyone left happier then when they arrived. Mashallah!

To get more involved with SENSES,  there is a new group “We Care for SENSES” that can always use a hand! Here’s their PAGE.senses eid Photos by Els and Karen

World Refugee Day 2016

Being there at the camps, with the refugees
Sherouk Zakaria/Dubai

Source: Khaleej Times – June 20, 2016
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A poet once said, “no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”

Dubai-resident Nawar Ismail, whose name was changed for anonymity, would agree. Her family fled to Turkey in search of a better life when the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. Others remained internally displaced in Syria.

Nawar’s case has proven common as a survey by NRS International recently showed that 1 in 4 people living in the UAE have family or friends affected by a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.

Limited access to water and electricity obstructs communication between Nawar and her relatives.

Despite the hurdles, they still remain grateful for one thing: Survival. “They survived, and that is what matters,” she said.

The number of forcibly displaced people worldwide is approximately 60 million. One in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.

For refugee donation, contact

> Emirates Red Crescent

> Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF)

> Share The Meal initiative by United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

 

The good news is, help is coming. The NRS International study showed that 73 per cent of UAE residents contributed to an international humanitarian cause in the past year, while 80 per cent are likely to continue their support in the coming year.

Rabha Saif Alam, Expert at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt, said the attention to refugee crisis “has significantly increased” with the number of conflicts affecting countries around the globe.

She added that a huge number of donations are from the UAE and GCC counties ranging from medicine, food, drugs to building hospitals and camps.

But the best solution, Alam pointed out, is encouraging the United Nations efforts to end conflicts that create crisis in the first place. “We can help, but we cannot solve a problem if we ignore its roots,” she said.
Volunteering tales

“I think I found my life’s passion,” said Dubai-based Deena Stevens of her volunteering experience. The 24-year-old was part of a group who worked on the Greek Island of Lesbos in December 2015. She helped at Stage 1, where they received 15 boats a day, each carrying 60-80 people.

“We never slept. Everyone got stressed and sick.”

But witnessing the death of a woman and her five-year-old child of hypothermia on a windy morning is what broke Stevens.

Volunteers blamed each other, and since Stevens was a graphic designer whose job was to raise awareness about hypothermia, she was not any different.

“I still see them in my dreams. When I walk into a cold air-conditioned building, I shiver as I remember the situation.”

As she came back to the UAE in March, Stevens took it upon herself to spread awareness through giving talks. She said helping refugees find houses instead of the horribly-conditioned tents is their ultimate need.

Currently collaborating with a camp and flying in to shoot documentaries, Stevens noted that getting involved in refugee crises is “addictive. It’s hard to break yourself away from it even when you’re overseas.”
Spread the cheer

Founders of Dubomedy comedy school Mina Liccione and her husband Ali Al Sayed echoed similar sentiments. Their volunteering project, Clowns Who Care, involves collecting needed supplies (blankets, powder milk, soccer balls, art and educational supplies for kids) and travelling to refugee camps in Syria and Jordan where they perform comedy shows and art workshops for a good cause. The couple is going again after Ramadan.

“People lived in tents made of rice bags in a small camp in Jordan,” Liccione said. “Yet, the kids could not stop playing and laughing. Their mothers served us food even when they had nothing.”

Al Sayed added that the lack of water and electricity, living under cracked ceilings that offered no protection during winter, and absence of education to kids were the hardest issues to come across.

“We have to know what they actually need. Ask the organisation you deal with about their needs before you donate,” he said.

While survival is critical in old camps in Jordan, bigger camps that fit thousands of refugees “definitely need access to educational programs,” said Liccione.

She added: “It is the most intense and unforgettable experience one can go through. You never watch the news the same way again because you saw reality.”

Speak trauma

Susan Smith, Mass Communication professor at the American University of Sharjah and cofounder of Speak Trauma, said her team is currently crowdfunding for a documentary and storytelling summer workshop at a school for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Speak Trauma involves helping refugees tell their own stories through documentaries since “talking about pain is the first step toward healing.”

“They need to speak out their own losses and tears instead of the exceptional stories portrayed in the media,” said Smith who will travel to Turkey in summer.

“Let’s reinforce the children because they are the future.”

Catch A Smile : Ramadan Acts of Kindness

Catch A Smile is an on-going campaign to perform random acts of kindness or “small gestures with great love” and brighten up the days of others. Public restroom attendants often go unnoticed and have a very difficult job.This Ramadan we would like to acknowledge, and thank, these hard working men and women by creating care-packages and passing them out. Smiles are contagious…let’s make sure they catch one!

How can you volunteer?

1- SIGN-UP! In a comment, on our Event Page, please sign-up for a Mall or Shopping Center in your area and clarify whether you’ll be taking on women’s or men’s rooms in the event we overlap.

2- CREATE! Make care-packages or gift bags. (see ideas below)

3- SURPRISE! Deliver them to the Mall/Shopping Center restrooms anytime between June 17-19.

4- INFORM! Let the group know your mission was accomplished by posting a comment on the Event Page!

5- ENCOURAGE! Try and get your friends and family involved in the project. Having male/female teams is helpful as you can do a lot in one Mall visit.

Note: Please do NOT take photos of the bathroom attendees and post them.

What are some ideas on things to put in the care-package?

Dates, snacks, chocolate, perfume/oils, dried food products, spices, health and beauty products, calling cards, dental care supplies, clothing items, towel, sun glasses, accessories, small stuffed animals. Be creative between mixing practical with fun.

gift bags

The Shocking Truth About Muslims

The Shocking Truth About Muslims
By 
Originally posted on Emirateswoman.com

Donald Trump caused a frenzy when he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. His worrying attitude brought to light the many myths and stereotypes surrounding the Muslim community. So, what’s the real truth?

In an attempt to send out a positive message and to change the way people think about Muslims, comedian, artist and founder of the UAE’s Dubomedy, Mina Liccione, has made a short film in order to bring to light how ridiculous the prejudices are.

“As a Christian-American married to a Muslim I was horrified when Trump made headlines stating that Muslims should be banned from entering the USA,” said Mina when asked why she created the film. “He said a lot of racist and hurtful things and this statement put me over the edge. Rather than getting angry and doing nothing I decided to use my talent and passion for comedy to do something positive.”

“Muslims are scary, Muslims are terrorists, let’s ban all Muslims,” starts the short film before Mina asks 20 non-Muslims, living in a Muslims country about their what they really think.

The interviewees are a diverse group with varying ages, cultures and religions represented. “I wanted people from diverse backgrounds,” said Mina. “I put together a unique group who would bring unique points of view.”

Kind, graceful, hospitable, tolerant and generous were the most common words used to describe Muslims in the film. When it came to terror, the only terrorising they were deemed guilty of was force-feeding. “There’s so much food,” one interviewee said while laughing. “[Yes, I get terorrised with food] by my in-laws every Friday” joked Mina.

While some may question Mina’s technique, she insists making light of the topic will actually help people understand more: “I’m a comedian by nature. I think humour is the perfect tool… It’s makes you laugh and then it makes you think. A lot of truth can be told in jest and since it’s not aggressive more people tend to listen.”

“I read online that in the USA only 38 per cent of all Americans actually knew a Muslim personally,” added Mina. “People associate Muslims with what the media portray. I thought why not show a funny side to these negative stereotypes to help people who might not have any Muslim friends see that they are just like the rest of us… Human, caring, creative…”

Mina is now co-writing a stand-up comedy show with her husband Ali Al Sayed, combining their lives from different worlds in the hope of helping break negative stereotypes in a humorous but honest way.

Watch the video and don’t be fooled by people like Donald Trump.

 

round 7

Winter Coat Drive

Giving the gift of warmth

This winter has been brutal on refugees. Mina and Ali are collecting winter coats, blankets, hats, gloves and scarves to be delivered to the Gaza Refugee Camp in Jerash, Jordan.

Ali wrote:

A few nights ago, in NYC it was so cold that my heart rate had gone up significantly and I honestly thought I was going to collapse (I was saying the Shahada … Muslims know what I’m talking about)… I was afraid because it was late and that nobody would come to help me. It felt like my heart was failing me, I couldn’t breathe. Then I went back to my comfortable hotel with a heater and looked it up, I was scared I thought I had heart problems. I learned that this happens in severely cold temperatures. Then I thought about refugees, and the poor that have to manage a life with this. On that night, the Mayor of NY had ordered all the homeless be taken to shelters even if it was by force. We have refugees that aren’t even invited in or accepted in societies, leave alone forced into safety and shelter. So we’re doing a coat/jacket and blanket drive…. We already have 500 jackets donated by a good, good person and we have a shipping company sponsoring the shipping costs … So, if you have the opportunity and the ability, please please please jump in and help somebody’s heart beat normal.

Want to get involved? Call 050 927 3621 for details. 

winter coat drive

Gaza Camp

In December, 2015 we returned to Jordan to perform and lead circus arts workshops for the children residing in the Gaza Refugee Camp in Jerash. Truly an incredible weekend of laughter and play! We can’t wait to return in the new year.

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