SHARJAH // The importance of volunteering and its foundations in Emirati communities was the subject of a Ramadan majlis at Sharjah Heritage Institute.
Researchers talked about how in years gone by communities would help each other in good and bad times, with harvests, fishing, building homes, helping with weddings and in emergency situations.
“The population is small and the communities are smaller, therefore everyone would look out for his neighbour and town members, they would willingly volunteer to help out whenever the need arises,” said Dr Adel Al Kasadi, a researcher at the institute.
“People were relatively poor, so whenever a town member wanted to build a house, people who could help would volunteer to assist in building it; that shows how much the community was entwined, and love each other.
“Locals would also help gather barley, wheat and dates; the more hands helping would greatly help in saving the crops from rotting.”
During last week’s majlis, participants also shared Emirati vocabulary used in association with volunteering. Al Fazaa, for example, means a call for help in an emergency. Al Shefa is used when volunteers are needed to help pay a financial debt, while Al Hashid is used when volunteers are needed to help in harvesting crops.
“Everyone chipped in to help – poor and wealthy – they contribute money and others would sell some of their animals to aid the man in need and show their solidarity,” Dr Al Kasadi added.
Dr Said Mubarak Al Haddad, who is also a researcher of Emirati heritage, said that weddings, which would be held over the course of a week, were a great occasion to bring a community together, and everyone helped out.
“Men would help in butchering the cattle, while the women prepare food and help out with the traditional henna sessions for the bride, among many other things,” he said.
Emirati historian Ahmad Obeid said that volunteering even extended to opening up homes to others in need.
“In July 1974 rain fell heavily during the hot summer in a town on the east coast,” he said. “Homes were flooded and people not affected by the rain opened their homes and sheltered the families and provided them with food until the storm withered away and their homes were restored.”
Source: uae news