An Indian expatriate climbed to Mount Everest base camp to raise funds for Syrian refugee camps in Europe.
Cijal Rahim, 27, who works as an aircraft technician with an airline, climbed 5,380 metres in a 15-day journey that cost him Dh6000 to make.
“The trek was physically and mentally tasking. There were days where your mind would just tell you to give up and your legs want to stop. But then, I thought how difficult it would have been for the refugees who migrate from their home for better lives,” he said.
“The refugees walk for 30 or 40 days at a stretch to reach the borders to enter Europe. There were many refugees who have lost their toes to frostbite walking in the snow.”
Mr Rahim volunteered his first aid service at refugee camps in Calais, France and Lesbos in Greece.
The camp in Calais housed about 6000 people at the time he went there in November.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than three million have fled Syria’s civil war.
“The camp at Lesbos housed around 1500 to 2000 people,” said Mr Rahim.
“I am a certified first aider and was helping the injured. I also helped in food distribution, clothes, blankets distribution, translation to different languages along with other volunteer jobs.”
The suffering he saw on the trip made him realise that he should do more for the cause.
He decided to climb to base camp of Mount Everest in Nepal to raise and to build awareness of life in the camps.
However, Mr Rahim said he was disappointed that his did not meet others from the Middle East who had volunteered at the camps.
“There were doctors, nurses, paramedics, first aiders and students volunteering from America, Canada and European countries like Norway, Germany, UK, Denmark and even as far as from Australia, but unfortunately there was no-one from my part of the world,” said Mr Rahim, who has lived in the UAE for more than 25 years.
He said when he announced his charity volunteer plan to raise money for the needy in the camps, his friends and peers encouraged him but few said they would travel with him.
“I cannot speak about the whole Middle East. But in Dubai, generally, there are two types of people – ones who are so much in their comfort zone that they are reluctant to come out from that and face the hardships while volunteering far from home.
“Others are so stuck in their day-to-day struggles that they don’t have time and resources to help others who are in need. Hence in most cases, it is easier for many people to give money for the cause rather than to come forward and feel the pain of humanity,” Mr Rahim said.
He said schools, colleges, universities and families should make sure that young learn to give and that taking time to volunteer for a cause is important.
“They should try and make an effort to travel to refugee camps. It will expose them to a different facet of the society which is poles apart from what we see in our day todays’ life.”
Mr Rahim said he learned positivity from refugees.
“Despite all hardships, there is so much positivity among them. They only talk about better days to come. They have high hopes that life will be eventually easy for them and their kids. This is what I have learned from them- no matter what happens, never loose hope.”
He said he has donated the collected fund to the Health Point Foundation, a UK based NGO which is providing health and dental relief work in the various refugee camps.
Source: uae news