Charitable giving is one of the five pillars of Islam and is particularly important at this time of year. Whether you’re Muslim or not, however, you should always try and set aside some time for a cause you care about. Here are a few ways you can help in Qatar…
There are some seriously great non-profit organisations and institutions within Qatar that are making huge differences at home and overseas. One such example is Reach Out To Asia, which is guided by chairperson HE Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, and falls under the Qatar Foundation banner. In a nutshell, this non-governmental organisation’s mission is to help some of the world’s poorest countries by focusing on promoting and investing in good quality education. Recently, on behalf of ROTA and in a group called ‘Arabs with Altitude’, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani became the first ever Qatari to climb and reach the summit of Mount Everest. They were raising scholarship money for children in Nepal to go to university as part of an ongoing project. So being a volunteer with ROTA no matter who you are means you can do some fantastic things for various societies. Just sign up at www.reachouttoasia.org.
You’ve seen the cute and cuddly images of our ‘pets of the month’ section in the community listings haven’t you? There are always plenty for adoption at any one of the animal charities in the country, especially in summer when many people leave the country and abandon their pets. One such volunteer group is Dogs in Doha who help find forever homes and foster families for the animals they take in. ‘There seems to be a never ending stream of dogs needing Dogs in Doha’s help,’ says volunteer Sarah Clarke. ‘From adult dogs to puppies, salukis to mutts – we have the dog you’re looking for.’ But, if you’re not ready or willing to take an animal in to your home, there are other ways you can help out. Places like the 2nd Chance Rescue centre (www.facebook.com/2ndchancerescueqatar), for example, are happy for you to come and take the animals for a walk when you have time. No strings attached!
If you’re more worried about sorting out the state of our planet first then there are a few people you can talk to within Qatar. Chances are, if you’ve gone green already, you know about the little things you can do to make a difference but for the benefit of those that haven’t we’ll give you a few hints. Recycle! You can find bins around the country at various spots such as the malls, MIA Park, Katara and The Pearl. At home, you could try washing only a full load of clothes at 30°C and change your lightbulbs to energy-saving ones. You can also eat a few less meat meals a week as farming animals is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. If you want to really make a change to sustainability in Qatar though we recommend getting involved with the Qatar Friends of the Environment Center (4487 4731) and SustainableQatar (www.sustainableqatar.com), our friendly groups of resident eco-warriors.
Did you know that being charitable is actually good for you? In 2008 a bunch of Harvard Business School professors did a report that found giving money to someone else made participants’ happier than if they were spending it on themselves. Also, in 2006, colleagues from the National Institutes of Health noticed in a study that when people give to charities, the part of the brain associated with trust, pleasure and social connections activates. If that’s not enough proof just yet, in 2004, Linda Fried MD, director of the centre on ageing and health at Johns Hopkins Medicine, spent two years studying volunteers aged 60 to 86 and comparing them to a control group who didn’t help out much. She found the charitable group had increased physical, cognitive and social activity and determined that volunteering has the potential to actually slow the ageing process!
The Shafallah Centre is a first of its kind in the region – it was set up so children with disabilities could be provided for in the Qatari society. It includes a genetic research centre, services using the latest therapies and world-class counselors that support the kids from birth to adulthood. Under this banner as well is Best Buddies Qatar (www.betsbuddies.org.qa), which is something you can get involved with. It’s an idea which originally came from America and is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by encouraging one-on-one friendships between people without disabilities. They also organise integrated employment for them. It’s a wonderful service and a worthy cause to spend your time on.
There are many health awareness programmes you could dedicate your time to or even start up yourself. In Qatar, as with most places today, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are prevalent. The Qatar Cancer Society is the biggest humanitarian organisation of its kind in the country, dedicated to the prevention and treatment of cancer, as well as raising awareness and rolling out prevention programmes. They’re always looking for volunteers to help them any way you can whether with your time or money, or simply by attending their events. Just send your details to email@example.com.
You eat, they donate
You can even make your iftar buffet charitable this Ramadan as the Moevenpick Hotel Doha in West Bay is giving QR10 to charity for every diner at Seasons restaurant during the whole month. The buffet starts from sunset and costs QR140 per person.
Call 4429 1111.