Muscat: Nearly OMR3.5 million has been raised for volunteer teams and charity organisations that are doing their best to help those who require assistance, which includes many affected by COVID-19.
Charitable organisations have received donations worth OMR3,449,676 so far this year, through the donate.om portal to assist people in need of aid. This includes some affected by lay-offs and reduced purchasing ability during the pandemic.
Habib Al Subhi, the Director of the Associations and Community Organisations Department at the Ministry of Social Development, encouraged all those who could contribute towards a worthy cause to do so, because our small donation today could put a smile on another person’s face tomorrow.
“Any amount you donate will contribute towards solving problems,” he said. “Charities derive their strength from the donations made by the civil and private sectors to carry out their initiatives and provide aid to the needy. They will not be able to continue their voluntary projects without the help of communities who provide them much-needed support.
“Charitable societies and volunteer teams have played a major role during the coronavirus pandemic,” he added. “They have provided great support to job seekers, those who were laid off from work, and families in need. They continue their amazing charitable work by launching several initiatives, and the Ministry of Social Development has accelerated the procedures for launching these initiatives and granting them the necessary permits.”
Habib Al Subhi admitted that due to the challenging circumstances faced by people both around the world and in Oman at present, there are many families in the country that were previously not dependent on aid, but now find themselves needing assistance.
In light of an increasing number of families requiring intervention from charities, he praised the efforts being made by organisations and donors who have shown solidarity with those in need of assistance, by donating when it matters most.
“Many of those who were self-employed, such as taxi drivers, street vendors, and SME owners have faced a lot of income loss due to the pandemic,” he revealed. “Some of them have even closed their places of work, and therefore need community support and charitable institutions to help them. We have a database of needy families, which will help speed up sending donations to the required people.”
In Oman, a total of 59 volunteer teams and three charitable organisations have exerted efforts towards helping those in need of assistance. Many charity initiatives were to do with helping people in the build-up to Eid.
The Nizwa Charitable Team, for example, received OMR76,000 in donations that went towards providing 1,826 sacrificial animals, which were distributed to various families. With a number of homes also adversely affected by the recent torrential rains, the team sent two truckloads of electronic goods to the relevant authorities so that they could be distributed to those who needed them.
Dr Shamsa Al Harthi, the Director General of Dar Al Atta’a, said her organisation was supporting more than 24,000 people affected by the pandemic, adding that this number is expected to increase in the coming months.
“We need to set up other initiatives to benefit residents as well, but there are more citizens who need our assistance as well,” she said. “There are families who could fend for themselves previously, but they are no longer able to. Our association has a number of programmes that run throughout the year to help people, such as the Fak Kurba effort, which helps people who are unable to pay their debts or house rent, because they have lost their jobs.”
Dar Al Atta’a received donations exceeding OMR400,000 from January till the end of July, from over 20,000 donors. A further OMR4,036 was sent to them as part of their Eid clothing initiative. “We have specific programmes set up, such as the one with Nama to pay electricity bills for families who were unable to do so, for which we received OMR1,200 so far this year,” said Al Harthi. “Since the start of the pandemic, volunteer workers have made great and uninterrupted efforts towards easing the burden on families. Their stories deserve to be told publicly.”
Another charity, Al Rahma Association for Motherhood and Childhood, raised funds of more thanOMR 200,000 this year, with one of their main initiatives being their People to People programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development, to help street vendors and others affected by the nighttime bans in the country. Since the start of the pandemic, the association has launched 12 initiatives to help people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic.
Last Ramadan, Al Rahma teamed up with restaurants to offer iftar meals to locals and expatriates in need. Their Eid clothing efforts received more than OMR99,000 in donations. OMR70,000 worth of clothes were given to more than 1,400 families in Muttrah and Seeb, the remaining OMR29,000 worth was distributed among 1,460 orphans in the country. The organisation also received more than OMR65,000 to provide respirators and buy medicines needed for COVID patients. The charity also raised OMR124,000 to provide 3,100 Eid sacrifices.
“Many volunteer teams have supported hospitals with respirators, as well as have helped out the elderly during the pandemic by offering them respirators in their homes,” said Al Subhi. “One association has also offered to provide COVID vaccines free of charge to expatriates who look after the elderly in poor families, but cannot afford the cost of the doses.”
“They have contributed towards solving many problems,” he added. “Many teams have made efforts to ensure continuous flow of funds. Some others even donated land and a building for storing all charitable goods .The government also offers many exemptions to charities so they can continue their good work.”
Examples of exemptions include waiving of customs duties on imported goods, and exempting such organisations from paying the fees required to recruit expatriate workers. A new package of exemptions such as waiver of electricity and water bills, and VAT, is to be announced soon, once government approval has been received.