12 volunteers from Emirates Foundation’s Takatof program have come home from an eight day humanitarian mission in New Jersey, USA. The young volunteers lent a hand in the renovation of houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and participated in the UAE National Sheikh Zayed Kidney Run in New York City, which coincided with their trip.
This marks the fourth consecutive year in which Takatof volunteers have travelled on an international mission to help those in need. Such humanitarian missions are the result of the program’s objectives to promote voluntary work among youth in the United Arab Emirates.
The team of six Emirati male volunteers and six Emirati female volunteers collaborated with Habitat for Humanity Monmouth County – a non-profit housing organization that builds simple, affordable housing in partnership with people in need – to carry out the renovation, building, and painting of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.
The 12 volunteers travelled to the working class community of Sea Bright area in New Jersey to rebuild the Morris family home that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The volunteers relentlessly worked alongside local volunteers towards building a foundation for the house and then moved towards building the frame and the installation for the main scaffolding structure.
Their work did not go unnoticed by the community of Sea Bright. Mayor Dina Long met the Takatof volunteers and thanked them profusely, while the local police came on site to thank the young volunteers and show their appreciation for the work they have done. The welcoming and hospitable people of Sea Bright aided the volunteers with breakfast and lunch meals as a gesture to show their gratitude, while several others came from other areas to personally thank them.
“The entire world was touched by the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Given the scope of this disaster, we felt it was important to provide assistance,” UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said. “The UAE is honored to lend its assistance in rebuilding these great communities. Over the past year, we have witnessed New Jersey’s courage and determination as its citizens worked tirelessly to restore their homes and schools. So, it is no surprise to see our volunteers lined up to come over and lend a hand,” he added.
“The success of the program is a testament to the enthusiasm of the UAE youth that step up to volunteer every year whenever there is a crisis and help is needed. This year’s volunteers not only represented the UAE throughout the mission, but they also put their running shoes on to participate in the UAE National Sheikh Zayed Kidney run,” said Maytha Al Habsi, Chief Programmes Officer at the Emirates Foundation. “As we welcome the volunteers back home, we applaud the effort they have put in to help those in need. Such an experience allows them to value the goodness of a selfless act and appreciate the opportunities they receive to help others,” she added.
The mission coincided with the annual UAE National Sheikh Zayed Kidney Run, organized in Central Park in New York City on 10th May 2014. The Takatof team was joined in the run with other UAE entities representing the UAE including Yas Marina Circuit, and Etihad.
The UAE National Sheikh Zayed Kidney Run is annually held in memory of the country’s founding President, Sheikh Zayed, who underwent a kidney transplant in the United States in 2000. The UAE Healthy Kidney race, founded in 2004, is a 10km race through Central Park marking Sheikh Zayed’s successful kidney transplant at a US hospital in 2000. With a prize money of $10,000 to be won, the proceeds collected from the run went towards the USA National Kidney Foundation to support research efforts on Kidney diseases which threaten lives of millions of Americans.
Inspired by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Takatof is a voluntary social program, designed by the Emirates Foundation to foster a culture of volunteering throughout the different society segments in the United Arab Emirates. The program provides the UAE youth with an opportunity to volunteer in many humanitarian and social initiatives to make good use of their leisure time.