Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saudi Arabia's Needy and Winter--"Warmth": The National Winter Initiative دفء: المبادرة الوطنية للشتاء

As easy as it is for Canadians--hunched over, head down, walking through snow and snowstorms for multiple months per year, wearing their winter uniform of winter clothes + heavy winter coat + boots + hat, scarf, and mitts or gloves, as they scurry from one overheated indoor setting to another--to dismiss the notion of winter elsewhere, all countries have a winter, even if it is a relatively balmy, but very rainy one.

Desert countries often have surprisingly low temperatures, especially at night, in winter, at altitude, and with the wind chill factor. Saudi Arabia is no exception; also, Saudi does have an impoverished sector of society--both Saudi, and overstayers from haj and umrah.

Even knowing this, I originally misunderstood the title of this initiative as some sort of "Save Saudi Students from Canada's Winter" Initiative. Given my current preoccupations, and the fact that yesterday I spent the day being surprised by a snowstorm, then reorganizing my day plans around beating it from city to city until I was home safe and warm, this is understandable.

However, "Warmth": The National Winter Initiative is a much broader, and more national effort. I was impressed on reading the Facebook site, that they have all bases covered:

To Provide a Warm Winter to the Less-Privileged Factions of Society
تأمين شتاء دافئ للشرائح الأكثر حاجة في المجتمع.

To collect various types of resources to guarantee a warm winter for the less fortunate members of our nation.

جمع وتوفير جميع المصادر التي سوف توفر الدفء للشريحة التي لا تستطيع توفير وسائل الدفء في شتاء المملكة القارص.

Resources collected will include but not be restricted to the following:
1- Human Resources (Volunteer work)
2- Medical Resources (Critical Care)
3- Financial Resources (Cash Donations)
4- Livability Resources (Clothes and Food)
5- Technical Resources (Heating Appliances and Electronic Supplies)
جمع الموارد المختلفة التي تشمل ولكن لا تقتصر على مايلي:
1. موارد بشرية (عمل تطوعي)
2. موارد طبية (رعاية الحالات الحرجة)
3. موارد ماليه ( تبرعات)
4. موارد احتياجات العيش (ملابس، طعام)
5. موارد تقنية ( أجهزة التدفئة الإلكترونية وما شابه)

The National Winter Initiative "Warmth" started as a discussion on how harshly cold the winter has become in the late years with death cases in 2009-2010 widely documented in both print and televised media. Thus several individuals, volunteer groups, foundations, corporations, and universities decided to take a stand and create some positive societal change by pooling resources to deal with this challenge.

The current target for the initiative is to focus on 3 main areas, namely Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province with potential to expand to the Northern and Southern regions of Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf.

لمحة عن المبادرة:
"دفء": المبادرة الوطنية للشتاء بدأت كنقاش عن شدة البرد في المملكة والذي أصبح أشد قسوة في السنوات الأخيرة مع حالات الوفاة التي حدثت في عامي 2009-2010 موثقه في الصحف والإعلام المرئي. لذلك قرر العديد من الأفراد، ومجموعات المبادرات والمتطوعين، المؤسسات الخيرية، الشركات، والجامعات لخلق بعض التغيير الإيجابي في المجتمع عن طريق تجميع الموارد المختلفة للتعامل مع هذا التحدي.

الهدف الرئيسي من هذه المبادرة هو التركيز على ثلاث مناطق وهي الرياض، جدة والمنطقة الشرقية مع احتمال التوسع للمنطقة الشمالية والجنوبية في المملكة بعد توفيق الله تم توفير الموارد، وبعد ذلك في بقية الخليج إن أمكن.

Current Initiative Supporters:
1- The Saudi Debate Society (SDS)
2- Net Impact Saudi Arabia (NISA)
3- Young Initiative Group (YIG)
الجهات المساندة للمبادرة:
1. مجموعة الحوار والنقاش السعودي .
2. مجموعة "تأثير" لخدمة المجتمع
3. مجموعة المبادرات الشابة

"Warmth": The National Winter Initiative Partners

The partnering groups are inspiring as well, and it is worth investigating their own websites:

While I have been provided for, or able to provide from myself, I certainly know what it feels like to be caught without proper winter clothing when there is a sudden weather change, and to be surprised by winters in supposedly warm climates. While milder than Canadian winters, they still require proper shelter, heating, clothing, food, and medical intervention. Ironically, the only time in my life that I have had bronchitis was living in the South of France, where I had underestimated winter clothing needs. The only time I have worn plastic bags as liners in my shoes was as a tourist at Christmas in Italy, again underestimating the potential for snow, or cold rain, even as far south as Rome.

The "Warmth": National Winter Initiative for KSA seems like a worthy charity for the generosity of all, and the volunteer efforts of all Saudi students and citizens, as well as perhaps particularly for women, Saudi and expat, with time and energy to donate to a meaningful activity.

The "Warmth": The National Winter Initiative began today--may it have a great success!

Snow covers Al Baha city south-western the Capital Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 12, 2009. Torrential rains poured down on Al-Baha accompanied by gusty wind and snow capping the mountains and covering the valley areas and the forests of Al-Zaraeb and Khayrah. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Your worst winter experience?
Your worst winter experience in Saudi Arabia?
Efforts during winter in your area to help the less fortunate?
Other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

For other photos see:
Snow in Deserts Of Saudi Arabia
Snow Storm in Tabuk


Wafa' said...

thanks a lot Chiara for the information :)

i have never heard of such initiative, and i really hope that it can be spread and founded in my city too.

umm ameena kimberly said...

I experienced winter in Saudi once, and it was brutal (in my opinion). So it is definitely sad to know there are people experiencing it without proper clothes.


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