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Dubai resident's donation campaign on Facebook an instant hit

Dubai resident’s donation campaign on Facebook an instant hit

With hundreds of families wanting to donate and support the initiative, Antakly said she has received enormous support from the Dubai community so far.

Dubai: A simple Facebook post urging friends and family to help the Syrian refugees caught amidst the deadly winter storm ‘Huda’ has left one Dubai resident feeling overwhelmed following a huge response within just hours.

‘I tagged a few close friends (in the message) and within a matter of minutes I received hundreds of messages from people asking what they could do to help,’ Leila Antakly told Khaleej Times on Saturday.

A native New Yorker born to a Syrian father, Antakly, who now resides in Dubai, will be turning her office into a donations bank today in a bid to collect much needed aid for the millions of refugees forced to battle freezing temperatures in the Levant this month.

With hundreds of families wanting to donate and support the initiative, Antakly said she has received enormous support from the Dubai community so far.

‘I think it is very important and in fact necessary for parents to teach their children the lesson of helping those in need. Hopefully the whole family can get involved in collecting the warm clothing together and purchase blankets for these families who are barely surviving under freezing conditions.’

Using her office space in Media City from Sunday to Wednesday to collect all the generous donations from those wanting to help, Antakly hopes others will follow suit.

“If this initiative can help inspire others to help, it can only mean more support for those that really need it — the refugees,” she said.

With children in Dubai living “such fortunate and comfortable lives”, she said it’s important for them to have exposure to the “realities of the world”.

“Getting them involved is so important so they can learn early on to be compassionate and responsible human beings.”

Déjà vu

Whilst living in New York back in 2010, Antakly started a similar initiative following the earthquake which struck Haiti, killing more than 100,000 people in its wake.

“When that disaster hit Haiti, I wanted to do something to help so I reached out to all my personal contacts. I was overwhelmed by the response. We received so many donations and the whole drive was such a success,” she said.

Hoping to follow the same success this time around, Antakly said the idea to launch a similar initiative came following the launch of the #UAECOMPASSION campaign last week.

After speaking to her friend, Fatima El Malki, about the Haiti donation drive in New York in 2010, the pair decided do the same here.

“It seems to be only money donations for the #UAECOMPASSION campaign but not actual clothing and blankets, so we decided to open a donation bank.”

After posting an initial message on her personal Facebook page, the response within hours was “overwhelming”, with many parents voicing their wishes to send unused winter clothes to the storms most vulnerable victims — the refugee children.

Antakly’s office in Media City will be open from 10am to 5pm daily from today till Wednesday. For those of you who want to donate, the duo will be taking collections for clothing (both used or new), dry food and new blankets.

Speaking of the initiative, Antakly said the might of social media and the generosity of others is the driving force behind helping these needy refugees and she hopes to get the donations over to them as soon as possible.