Local social entrepreneurs Salam Hamzeh Ghaith, Isabelle Le Bon - Poonoosamy, and Monja Wolf discussed their experiences volunteering and starting their own social initiatives
The American Corner of Abu Dhabi City at ALHOSN University brought together over 15 social organizations for its first-annual Volunteer Fair held on June 19, 2012. The event, the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, provided a platform for organizations in the area to educate the general public about the many volunteer opportunities which exist in the UAE. It also furnished a networking space for volunteers in the non-profit sector. The fair included a panel discussion, information booths from 15 organizations, and presentations highlighting the work of various UAE-based volunteer organizations.
The event began with remarks from Prof Abdul Rahim Sabouni, ALHOSN University’s Vice Chancellor and CEO, who extolled the great contributions the American Corner had made to the ALHOSN University community since its establishment on January 23, 2011. U.S. Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Victor Hurtado, spoke about the importance of volunteering in the United States and lauded the American Corner of Abu Dhabi City’s efforts to establish ties with the surrounding community.
Notable members of the philanthropic community engaged in a panel discussion revolving around sharing experiences in volunteering and explaining the effort involved in building social initiatives. Panelists included Mrs. Salam Hamzeh Ghaith, the founder and president of Small World; Ms. Isabelle Le Bon – Poonoosamy, the co-founder of Nahtam Social Responsibility; and Ms. Monja Wolf, the German-born founder of Mumbai-based NPO Monyati Initiatives and speaker at TEDx Dubai in 2010.
The three panelists spoke about the importance of social entrepreneurship and encouraged those in attendance wishing to establish their own social initiatives to do so in a sustained and focused manner.
The panel discussion concluded with a donation ceremony from Ms. Le Bon- Poonoosamy on behalf of the Enthusiastic, the all-female francophone volleyball team which she manages. The Mauritian-born social entrepreneur gave funds earned from recent charity volleyball matches to a representative from Ewa’a Shelters for Women and Children. It was a powerful moment that reminded the community of the purpose of the volunteer fair which was to make a positive impact on society through volunteering.
The fair provided an opportunity for community members to find out how to volunteer in Abu Dhabi and afforded representatives of various charities and non-profits the chance to network and share their accomplishments with other members in their field.
The MIS Department hosted the final lecture by Mr. Godfrey Supka, Regional Sales Manager of Fern Software, who presented on volunteering in the micro-finance sector and provided useful information on how students in most degree programs could become a volunteer or intern in a micro-finance institution.
Maimoona Malik, an MIS student and President of ALHOSN’s humanitarian club ‘Speak Louder’ who was also a student volunteer at the event, was thankful for Dr. Fadia Hegazy, the MIS Department Chair, for arranging the lecture. “The presentation introduced me to a new world of financing, how it was founded, and how it has been helping people progress out of poverty. It was amazing to see how micro-finance interrelated with so many fields, especially my major.”
Participating organizations at ALHOSN’s Volunteer Fair included Operation Smile UAE, Nahtam Social Responsibility, The Enthusiastic, Abu Dhabi Cause Connect, Small World, Friends of Cancer Patients, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Gulf For Good, Tamm Volunteer Program, Emirates Heritage Club, New England Center for Children, Ewa’a Shelters for Women and Children, Urban Planning Council, and Takatof.
About the American Corner of Abu Dhabi City:
The American Corner of Abu Dhabi City at ALHOSN University is one of four American Corners in the UAE and is among 400 worldwide. It was established through the United States Embassy to promote mutual understanding and the exchange of ideas between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The American Corner of Abu Dhabi City strives to be a cultural hub for the community to engage in activities and events that inspire critical reflection, inter-cultural exchange and learning through a wide variety of informational resources and cultural programs.