An impressive 26,000 GEMS Education students from 25 schools across its UAE network hosted and participated in 78 environmental, charitable and community orientated events during the month of October. The events were held to support the internationally recognized Sewa Day, a universal concept which involves performing an act of kindness without expectation of reward.
Through the Varkey GEMS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education, students were encouraged to volunteer across a wide range of activities to experience the joy of giving in its truest sense; and by participating in this collective endeavour, learnt to relieve hardship and poverty, help the environment and bring joy to others. The students volunteered for activities including visiting old peoples’ homes, recycling and clean-up drives, hospital and therapy centre visits, tree planting, food and gift box collection and distribution, and more; with activities taking place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman and Al Ain.
Foundation Stage students at The Westminster School, Dubai learnt the importance of the support services and care offered by their school conductors, attendants and ancillary staff; whilst grades 3 to 6 took the responsibility of protecting the environment by collecting and recycling plastic and organized a clean-up drive. The senior school students focused on the issues of charity and social awareness and donated 1,000 shirts to the Bait Al Khair Society who in turn provide aid to the needy from less developed countries. Mr. Sampath Sri Wanasinghe, a parent from The Westminster School, Dubai, commented: "Students in the UAE rarely have the opportunity to give back to community, so this was an ideal way to get all students to do something special for a great cause".
At Our Own English High School, Fujairah, the universal concepts of charity, humanism and selflessness were the focus. The staff and students truly lived by the saying, ‘charity begins at home’ with senior students visiting Fujairah Hospital and doing their best to soothe and support the patients who were being treated.
The school leadership team at GEMS World Academy-Abu Dhabi focused on activities related to caring – with some of the schools youngest students distributing cups of fresh juice, renamed ‘joy juice’
because it was designed to bring smiles to people’s faces. Grade 2 students were tasked with making and counting out toiletries and clothing items collected for a labourers’ Box Appeal.
Students from the Cambridge High School, Dubai, brought joy to others by visiting old peoples' homes in Ajman and Sharjah, as well as the Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre in Dubai to spend the day interacting with the children. More than 160 students from the school will also participate in the ‘Clean up the World Campaign’ on 22nd November 2012, organized by Dubai Municipality.
Our Own English High School, Al Ain, led an awareness campaign about the harmful effects of plastic and planted trees as their contribution to Sewa Day activities. Ms. Ameera Ayub, a Grade 12 student from Our Own English High School, Girls, said: “As a student, I thoroughly enjoyed the activities we were involved in and it is my strong belief that simple actions can make an impact on someone else’s life.”
One of the most high profile Sewa Day events was held at Our Own English High School, Dubai who organized a tree planting ceremony in conjunction with Dubai Police in the presence of Prof. Dr. Mohammed Bin Fahad, Director General of Police Academy and the Founder and Trustee of the Varkey GEMS foundation, Mr. Sunny Varkey. The students planted 200 saplings. Students at the school were also engaged in multiple activities designed to develop the social and environmental sensitivities in the students, including the collection and distribution of over 2,000kgs of durable food items to labourers in Dubai.
Mr. Sunny Varkey, Founder and Trustee of the Varkey GEMS foundation, said: “I am delighted that our students have embraced the Sewa Day activities so admirably. It demonstrates the importance of giving our personal time for a good cause. We applaud all our students for their participation this year and hope that the seeds of change will continue to flourish and that our students prepare to host a series of new events and initiatives for Sewa Day 2013.”
The Sewa Day initiative encourages participants to live by the principals of kindness and public service and through the wide range of activities organized throughout the GEMS networks for students aged from 3-17 years they were encouraged to think about their local community and the positive impact they can have on others if they volunteered their time.