(This article is of interest to UAE residents published in The Gulf Today. Posted for my record only)
A vibrant multicultural society with around 200 nationalities, the UAE offers expatriates opportunities to play a productive role in the welfare of citizens and people who have made this country their home.
The Tamilians consider themselves an integral part of the UAE society and are keen to play their part in a positive way.
It was well past midnight when an active woman member of the UAE Tamil Sangam (UTS) received a distress telephone call. "I have lost my job. I am calling from the temple complex in Dubai. Is there anyone in your organisation who could help me?" "I am not in a position to repay my bank loan. Will they arrest me?" was the question posed to another member by an anxious individual.
In just over an year's time, the UTS has become an active forum for Tamil-speaking residents of the UAE to share, support and help the community in times of need. The UTS was founded on Nov.7 2008 and inaugurated by Syed M Salahuddin, managing director of ETA Ascon Star Group and Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, vice-chairman, Al Ghurair Investments.
"The UTS is a non-profit organisation devoted to furthering Tamil culture in the UAE. We seek to promote Tamil cultural, educational and community activities. We are open to all people interested in promoting the ancient language. The support from the government authorities and Dubai Police to our social and charity activities are highly encouraging," said Ramesh Viswanathan, president of the sangam and an IT professional.
"We bring out the hidden talents from all over the UAE, recognise them through competitions and shows and publish it in the media. We are planning to hold in-house and competitions between Sangams. Among our immediate plans are charity shows to help the poor and orphans in and around the UAE. We also intend to introduce a Group Insurance Scheme for UTS Members," Ramesh revealed.
The Sangham also has a proposal to teach different languages focusing on how to communicate (day to day) in shops, hospital, hotel and other such places. As part of its activities, the UTS is already lending a helping hand to the Indian Association for the Blind, old age home in Madipakkam, Chennai, orphanages in Tamil Nadu, besides organising blood donation camps in the UAE. With recession gulping away several jobs, one of the activities of the UTS that has proved a hit is job assistance. "The sangam has been helping people get jobs through its web site by citing 60 portals. Several have benefited from this. Numerous people also took advantage of the UAE EIDA software that we put on our web site," claimed another active member, Prasanna.
The UTS website provides Tamil Nadu pin codes, Tamil fonts, health tips, besides a link to the Indian government website. "For those who intend to tie the knot but are not able to find the right match, the sangam offers free matrimonial service," added a member.
"There are instances when people struggle to get medical support. We have doctors who are specialists and guide those in need," remarked UTS member Saleem Khan. "The UAE is a multicultural society with around 200 nationalities. The Tamilians want to play a productive and positive role in the welfare of all," chorus the committee members.
The UTS committee includes Ramesh Viswanathan, Prasanna, Saleem Khan, Mohamed Sirajudeen and Hidayathullah, while Sreeganga Ramesh, Kavitha Prasanna, Vaheedha Suhail, Chitra Prosper and Amirtha Ameen form its female wing.