Young volunteers bring Eid joy to children in Yemen

War failed to stop a group of young Yemenis from bringing joy and celebration to children during Eid. In fact, it has given the group a greater need and purpose to grow their mission.

With 15 other volunteers, Abdullah Al Dalali started his campaign “Kalbonyan” years ago to collect, clean and wrap clothes to help children of low-income families celebrate Eid with joy.

The group’s work begins a few months before Ramadan when they tirelessly disperse on field visits across Sanaa to collect clothes from donors before sending the items to be sorted and washed in a laundry. The fresh clothes are then wrapped into Eid gifts to be delivered to thousands of children across the country.

Despite the war, which left over 22 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance every day, “Kalbonyan” has grown from 15 to over 2,000 volunteers who look forward to expanding their campaign to collecting toys and sweets for children of underprivileged families this year.

The group organizes donation drives in Yemen’s schools and malls to benefit larger number of families. Al Dalali, who named the campaign the ‘Yemeni clothing bank’, said the drive presents a “message of hope and optimism for the future, uniting Yemeni people towards spreading happiness in the face of adversity regardless of our differences or backgrounds.”

He added that the campaign aims to bring a stronger message to children “to smile and stay hopeful despite difficult circumstances."

The campaign’s outreach has expanded from 350 families in its inception to over 11,000 families in 2018, benefitting about 66,000 children who receive their Eid clothes colorfully packaged, along with smiles and support.

To facilitate the distribution process, the group has launched an app to collect donations, track beneficiaries and keep a database of families in need. The donation app is equipped with iris recognition technology to facilitate distribution for those who do not carry identification papers.

Al Dalali said the database that the group has established over the years supports humanitarian and charitable organizations to providing aid to low-income families in Yemen.

This year, he looks forward to reaching more families this year. “We will arrange drives in malls and schools across the country to spread hope and peace across Yemen.” He added, “the unwanted clothes people find when they sort their wardrobe can be the reason behind a child’s smile in Eid. We should all come together to bring joy to their hearts.”