Story: Gautam Viswanathan
Established as an Omani non-profit charitable organisation, Al Jisr functions independently and has no political or governmental affiliations. Since its establishment in 2010, the foundation has supported many initiatives both in Oman and abroad. Driven by an overriding purpose to serve the underprivileged people of society, Al Jisr Foundation operates wholly on zakat (charity) funds with the purpose of alleviating the needs of the less fortunate through programmes in healthcare, education and social initiatives.
In this week’s ‘Would you like to Volunteer’, T Weekly speaks with Dina Al Khalili, Al Jisr’s Head of Foundation, to find out what they most require volunteers to do, in order to ensure their programmes help those who need it the most.
What does Al Jisr Foundation do?
The foundation provides opportunities for people to achieve a better life through its core programmes, which are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and in a manner that respects and supports Islamic and Omani culture and values.
Al Jisr Foundation aspires to become a world-class philanthropic foundation which is respected, both in Oman and internationally, for its significant impact and its ability to improve societies worldwide through its mission to transform communities through empowerment and ensure equitable access to opportunities in health, education and social welfare.
The foundation emphasises on the importance of collaborations and partnerships with the government, non-governmental organisations and local communities. It is driven by a team of dedicated professionals guided by their core values of transparency, commitment and sustainability, three pillars which underpin a rock solid foundation for how the foundation conducts itself individually and collectively to achieve its mission and vision and become a trusted catalyst for sustainable impact and positive change in societies.
Across what areas does Al Jisr need volunteers?
Al Jisr Foundation, like any other NGO, believes that volunteers are valuable to their operations. People want to give back to the community and very often the most valuable things they can give, are their time, skills, knowledge and experience.
Our foundation is relatively young with a small team, so we understand the importance of ‘all hands on deck’ when it comes to executing our projects effectively and efficiently. Volunteers mainly help us reach more beneficiaries, raise awareness about our foundation and what we do and increase our contact with the greater community.
The areas that we look for volunteers’ contribution include some community engagement activities, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Other opportunities for volunteering include support to our core developmental projects, which focus on healthcare, education and social welfare.
What jobs are volunteers usually required to do?
During Ramadan, we look for volunteers to assist with our community iftars, which are held daily, usually in 2-3 different locations. Each location can see up to 500 people breaking their fast on a daily basis. Also, the month of Ramadan is when meat distribution is at its busiest. Volunteer groups are usually required at the slaughterhouses and to distribute meat to families across the Sultanate.
We have also depended on volunteers to ensure the success of certain initiatives and activities. Volunteers have assisted during our visits to schools to help with the distribution of learning material to students. They have been involved in hospital visits to distribute gifts to children admitted during the Eid holidays. We have also relied on volunteers offering their skills and experience in-kind, like conducting feasibility studies, facilitating talks or workshops, ushering during events, photography, videography and graphic design services.
We have even relied on volunteers to come into the office for some admin and clerical assistance during busy times or in preparation for a project launch.
How many hours of work do they need to do?
It is really up to the volunteers, their capability and availability. People do what they can and we appreciate all efforts! All these details are clarified before they begin so as to ensure that our expectations and theirs are properly met.
What sort of qualifications do volunteers need?
Absolutely anybody can volunteer their time, regardless of their background and qualifications. However, if there are specific skills required for certain activities, those details will be shared when we request volunteers.
How does one apply for to be a volunteer with Al Jisr? Can a volunteer position lead to a full-time one?
If anyone wishes to volunteer with Al Jisr, they can apply through our website where their information will be saved to our database. Volunteers will then be contacted based on project requirements. If any volunteers wish to get a full time position with Al Jisr Foundation, they should follow our social media platforms to be informed of any recruitment opportunities.
What advice would you give to volunteers with NGOs?
Remember that you are a role model for those who lack the resources and your contribution will always have an impact on them. Volunteering opportunities can be career starters for some and are a wonderful way for you to develop your overall personality and to gain confidence.
Volunteering also gives you a chance to network with people from all walks of life, paving the way for an exchange of information and experiences.
Treat volunteering opportunities that come your way seriously and with honest commitment, for some NGOs you are their lifeline and the reason they’re able to operate and make a difference!