Saher Shaikh, a British citizen with Pakistani and Afghan roots, is a Dubai banker-turned-humanitarian that created the Adopt-a-Camp initiative in 2005. This charity organization has the goal to bring cheer to the lives of thousands of labourers in labour camps and currently helps 50 sites and over 52,000 workers.
The idea for the charity organization came to Saher Shaikh while helping a Dubai laborer struggling to pay for his purchases in a grocery store; she offered to pay the laborer’s bill and soon decided to visit a labour camp to better understand workers’ living conditions. Today, Shaikh is working for the betterment of the labor community in Dubai.
Adopt-a-Camp, not only provides care packages to workers, but is also the promoter of many other initiatives to better the future prospects of the workers and their families. According to its website, it “provides the link and the know-how between ideas on how to improve life for the men and the labour camps themselves.”
Thanks to the work of Dubai volunteers and the involvement of organizations around the world, Adopt-a-Camp has been able to organize English courses and Hygiene Workshops as well as fun out-of-camp experiences. It also organized medical checkups for labourers and their families back home.
Adopt-a-Camp has managed to receive the help of institutions like the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labor to host different events on its behalf; the Ramadan Care Packages event at Dubai World Trade Centre which coincided with the Emirati Humanitarian Work Day, for example, led to the delivery of care packages for laborers at various labor camps. A package normally contained a set of basic toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste, soap, deodorant etc.), some towels, bedding material (a pillow, bed sheets) and a few food treat items. For Muslim laborers, prayer mats and prayer caps were also included in the special pack.
Adopt-a-Camp, as mentioned on its website, has also another important role. It “is able to work as a bridge between the Ministry of Labour and labour camps to help them enforce high standards and report camps that require inspections.”
Nine years after starting the initiative, Shaikh, founder and organizer, of Adopt-a-Camp, continues to raise community awareness to share the Adopt-a-Camp mission: to improve the lives of every stranded laborer, including their families and villages with adequate resources and income necessary for those to secure an ample but modest living standard.
Saher Shaikh has been able to bring together numerous volunteers and institutions to help laborers working in Dubai, and not only; she is also active through social media sites and word of mouth, so, if interested in knowing more about the current projects, visit the Adopt-a-Camp Facebook page or official Website.