Young Bahraini Shaikha Al Fadel is not out of college yet, but she’s already giving grownups a lesson in living and loving.
Not many people in the Kingdom would pause to consider the hardship of expatriate labourers, thousands of whom work outdoors under the Middle Eastern sun. That makes 20-year-old Shaikha Al Fadel one of Bahrain’s tender hearts.
This svelte, young girl from Riffa has aspired to run a charity since she was 16. But, it was only in May this year that Shaikha was able to materialise her dream with the launch of her charity, LiveLoveGive. Her first initiative this summer is the Shade a Worker project, where she hands out goody bags to construction workers toiling in the heat.
Shaikha came up with the idea after her doctor advised her to sit in the sun for short spells for a dose of Vitamin D.
“Those 10 minutes made me sweat so much, I was almost dizzy. I realised if 10 minutes in the sun were so harsh for me, how much hardship must these workers be going through,” she says.
Along with 10 other friends, Shaikha sold coupons worth BD2.500 each at various schools and universities across Bahrain to raise around BD1,000 for the project. She put together the goody bags which comprise a chilled bottle of water, a snack, a cap to shield wearers from the sun, BD1 worth of phone credit and BD1.500 in cash.
“I know it doesn’t sound like much, but to a construction worker or a rag picker working under the sun, a chilled bottle of water and a snack means a lot. I was very touched with the response we received and I could tell the workers’ gratitude was heartfelt,” she believes.
So far, the Royal University for Women undergraduate has distributed 200 bags and a 100 more are on the way. The online campaign launched on Twitter and Instagram kept Shaikha on her toes for two months, but she was pleasantly surprised by the generosity shown by people.
“One day, we had a call from a donor asking for coupons. When my friend went to meet this lady, she was entertaining some friends from Qatar. These friends too bought additional coupons from us. One of the visitors from Qatar said she was inspired to start a similar charitable initiative in her country,” says Shaikha.
Next on her agenda is a Ramadan campaign to collect gifts for children, which will be passed on to the younger inmates at the BDF Hospital.
“Children in the hospital will be lonely during Ramadan and we want to visit them in the evening carrying gifts to keep them company and show them we care,” she says.
Shaikha plans a fundraiser later in October with an entrepreneur’s fair, where participants will bring and sell cupcakes, accessories and handicrafts to raise money in aid of underprivileged women who are expecting a child.