The 2017 Dubai Cares Walkathon kicked off at Dubai Creek Park with full fan fair over the weekend. What looked like stormy clouds that were about to burst into an avalanche of rain did not hamper the participants from flocking in. Whatever the weather, the entrants from all walks of life turned out in droves; some 14,500 of them. Men, women and children participating in unison with the children across the world as part of the “Year of Giving” and in line with Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum Global Initiatives highlighting the need for children’s education. Imagine having to walk 3-5 km daily to school to learn! I knew personally of villagers who would walk the 3 kilometers’ trek. One only has to recollect the trials of childhood and having memories of not wanting to get up for school!
As the crowds trickled into the park in preparation, we encountered a chorus of people who were warming up to the sound of the beat emanating from the speakers. What looked like a warm up session turned out to be aerobics! A combination of Yoga followed by a dance routine had the crowd ecstatic. From the cha cha to two-step, the crowd followed suite. Out of shape and out of step, we giggled away at each other as our steps were out of synch. One couldn’t help but join with the contagious crowd. It was all fun.
Our very own presenter from Virgin Radio, Maz Hakim, engaged the audience in particular the many sponsors in recognition for their participation. “Shout goes out to …we love you….” could be heard far and wide as the sponsors waved back in appreciation. The scene was set as the army of walkers gathered in formation including two Storm Troopers from the First Order!
And the walk began. School children, parents, drummers, practically people from all walks of life marched to their own tune. This was a journey for those fortunate to tread the steps of those less fortunate. Watching a trickle slowly form into a river of people and the camaraderie of the different groups walking together made it all the more special. I witnessed a flurry of wind send granules of sand in the face of those marching which amazingly did not hinder the flow. Such was the enthusiasm of the crowd. Droplets of rain came cascading down and for a moment, I thought the clouds could no longer sustain their weight and would pour their load.
It’s not every day I wake up to walk to this type of iconic British weather. The feelings of nostalgia transported me back to good ole England. That feeling resonated with me even more so as to why I walked in solidarity with the nameless children in far-flung lands. I could have been one of those children walking to school every day. Any of us could have. I am forever grateful. And yet here we were back at the finishing line.
Acts like this bring back the joy in humanity. It is the year of giving. Every year should be the year of giving. Give your energy, your resources and above all your time however small an amount it may be. This is our future we have to consider. Our children. Education is key to brighter prospects and harmony. Pay it forward.
Last but not least, I wanted to give a big congrats to the participants, volunteers and above all, the organizers for contributing and making this event a success. We appreciate what you do. We all care. Hats off to Dubai Cares.