As temperatures across Qatar continue to soar (reaching 44C today), some local residents are hoping to take the edge off the heat for construction workers and others who work outside.
For the past month, workers near the Chamber of Commerce at Muntazah signal off of C-Ring Road have been enjoying free refreshments left by a Qatari family in a refrigerator outside their house.
Qatar’s midday summer work ban does not begin for another week, so many workers said they are especially grateful to have access to free cold water, laban and juice.
A photo of the fridge was published in today’s Peninsula, sparking widespread admiration of the idea.
During a visit to the house today, Doha News spoke to resident Ali Al Haidar, 14, who explained how the project came about: “It was my Dad’s idea. He saw a picture of a man in Saudi Arabia who had placed a fridge outside his house, and decided to do the same here.”
The refrigerator has been running since early May, he added.
Ali said he and his siblings, or the family’s drivers, replenish the items twice a day – between 8 and 9am, and between 2 to 3pm. In addition to the beverages, yogurt and bread are also often provided.
The move has been welcomed by workers in the vicinity. Speaking to Doha News, Jeebachha Mandal, a Nepalese laborer who works 10 hour-shifts half a block away, said:
“It’s great that they have done this. We really like it, and there are a lot of people who stop by to take things.”
Another worker, who dropped in on the conversation, but preferred to remain anonymous, seconded Mandal.
“I like that anyone can come and take (drinks), and that they fill it up daily,” he said. “It’s very hot, and this is where we can get a cool free drink during the day.”
The workers said they also witnessed other people, across socioeconomic classes stopping by to avail of the refrigerator. “There are engineers and people in cars who come by and drink some of the things sometimes. It brings everyone together,” Mandal said.
This is the first charity project that the family has worked on. Ali said he and his family plan on keeping the refrigerator stocked all year.
“We want to do this from now on. On weekends – Thursdays and Fridays – we even place fruits (in it). Many of the workers have thanked us when we go out to drop food,” he said, adding that people outside of the family, who have seen the fridge, have also started contributing.
“When I have my own home and my own family, I will continue to do this, inshAllah,” he said.
Other organizations around Qatar are also working to help migrant workers out during the summer.
See My Culture, a local volunteer-based organization that encourages artists here to explore themes of “culture, Islam and community using creative mediums (like) photo, film, art, and speech,” has recently launched a Twitter campaign called #WhatIWillDo.
According to co-founder Khalid Al Hammadi, the campaign, launched officially only a week ago, was born out of the desire to make a tangible contribution to the plight of workers in Qatar. Speaking to Doha News, he said:
“We wanted to do something with the community as See My Culture so we thought of an idea…Everyone is tweeting, posting and writing about the low income migrant workers in Qatar. We thought, let us turn words into actions. It is very easy to tweet from the comfort of our homes but ultimately our actions will make a difference.”
The group, along with local community news website JustHere, has released a video promoting the campaign, showing several people handing out bottles of cold water to workers on the street.
The video, filmed two days ago, encourages people to spend QR100, enough to buy a hundred bottles of cold water and help a hundred people.
While initial response to the campaign has been largely positive, Al Hammadi said the goal is to ensure that people act on their words of support:
“We just hope everyone is turning the tweets and support into action! Thats the main goal, to encourage others to actually go out there and spread some kindness.”
Joining the campaign is as simple as spreading the word, buying and distributing drinks to workers in the heat and exchanging a few smiles or greetings, he added.