Ladies labour camps need more initiatives

Dubai: While male labour camps are being regularly visited by social service groups, female labour camps in the UAE are overlooked, Gulf News has learnt.
According to Saher Shaikh, the Pakistani founder of Adopt a Camp, an initiative to help labourers working in Dubai, there is a dire a need for diverse ways of reaching out to the female labour force.
Speaking to Gulf News, she said there could be around 50 female camps in Dubai compared to thousands of male camps. “While the men have made a difficult choice to leave their families, these women have probably made a far more difficult choice as mothers. What we do is not enough.”
The need for community involvement in various areas like education, health and personal safety, among others, is evident, she explained. Even though women in the labour force are not as visible, unlike construction and road workers, they need to be reached out to.

Emily Poddar, an Indian Volunteer with the former charity group Elite Business Aides Club (EBAC), who helped organise a visit to a female camp in Jebel Ali last year, told Gulf News, “We distributed 155 healthcare packages. There is a lot more we can do. We can organise a garage sale and use the proceeds to buy everyday items for the women. We need volunteers to come forward,” she said.
Emirati Mariam Al Mazrouri, one of the Programme Managers of an informal group that helps labour camps, said that the group visits only one ladies camp in Mussafah, Abu Dhabi.
She told Gulf News, “We provide care packages and organise activities like karaoke sessions, games, exercise, etc. It is sad to see that most of these women do not have recreational facilities. They desperately need more initiatives.”
Gulf News also learnt that volunteer programmes at female labour camps isn’t a priority for independent groups or organisations. For many, the exposure to one has been recent, Llke the one organised by the AKMG (Association Of Kerala Medical Graduates) – Dubai Chapter, the first ladies-only medical camp at the Transguard staff accommodation in Al Quoz earlier this month. The women were screened for four diseases – diabetes, hypertension and cancers of the breast and cervix.
During the visit, 320 female workers were screened, leading to the diagnoses of five with lumps in the breast, 20 with hypertension and 30 with elevated blood sugar levels.
“All of these are silent diseases with little or no symptoms. Cancers are curable when detected in the early stages,” said Dr T.C. Satish, President of the Dubai Chapter. “Services provided included blood sugar analysis, blood pressure evaluation, pap smears and ultrasound. Free medications were distributed and the follow up cases were referred to the concerned doctors for necessary assistance to be extended.”
He explained that several women have been guided to seek treatment. “Our association is raising money to help bear these costs. We realise that regular screenings are unaffordable to these women who do not have medical insurance.”

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