Dubai: Mahesh Menda’s mother could not give him extra pocket money to buy his favourite snacks at school, but she taught him a lesson that would always influence his decisions in life: “Always be on the giving end, not the other way around,” she told him.
Menda, 67, who is today chairman of World of Electricals, told Gulf News that “when we were children, even giving us the equivalent of 25 fils as pocket money was difficult for my mum, but she always said and gestured: ‘This is a giving hand, this is a receiving hand. Always be at the giving end’.”
Menda had just Dh100 in his pocket when he landed in Dubai 41 years ago. His electrical supplies business grew through the years, and so did his giving. From donating to hospitals in India to offering scholarships to students back home, Menda is now investing in the lives of underprivileged children around the world through the philanthropic organisation, Dubai Cares.
“Dubai gave it [success] to me. So I thought this is one way that I could give back to Dubai,” Menda, who gave a personal donation of Dh1 million to Dubai Cares in February, said.
“Education is close to my heart. I realised donating to Dubai Cares was a perfect fit for me that if I just donate, it saves me all the hassle of finding genuine people to help or people who are not cheating me and just really want to get educated.”
Menda is among the first three donors who first responded to the call of Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to support Dubai Cares as it began a new chapter after its 10th anniversary last month.
“We never called anyone. These entities were ready the very next day after our 10th anniversary celebration and they committed to our cause. They’re setting the example for everyone to follow,” said Tareq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, which has provided quality primary education to 16 million schoolchildren in 45 developing countries for the past 10 years.
Coinciding with the Year of Giving, Al Gurg praised the two other donors — LuLu Group International and Al Ansari Exchange — that each pledged Dh10 million to Dubai Cares’ programmes for the coming years.
Rashid Ali Al Ansari, general manager of Al Ansari Exchange, said the company’s priority is to maximise the impact of every dirham they donate in people’s lives as part of their corporate social responsibility. They do this by donating to health care and to education through Dubai Cares.
“Writing a cheque is very easy. It’s actually going and implementing these programmes and actually creating change in people’s lives that is really honourable,” Al Ansari said.
For his part, Yousuf Ali M.A, chairman of LuLu Group International, commended Dubai Cares’ work that allows them to see and be part of a “very real and tangible change in the lives of many underprivileged people around the world”.
Al Gurg said Dubai Cares will increase its focus on funding programmes in countries where there is limited resources to provide services in situations of conflict, natural disasters, and epidemics. Dubai Cares for the next 10 years will also widen its scope to include all levels of education.
He said Dubai Cares also targets to introduce programmes in two countries in the Caribbean, two in South America, and two island countries in the Pacific.
To be able to do this, however, Al Gurg said Dubai Cares will need every help they can get from everyone.
“As we look forward to accomplish even more in the next 10 years, we encourage members of our community to embark on a journey of giving, empowerment and hope by renewing their commitment to supporting our noble philanthropic cause that will transform the lives of millions of children and young people.”
How to donate
This Year of Giving, Dubai Cares has tailored educational programmes at a cost of Dh47.7 million to help more than 15 million children in eight countries:
Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq-Kurdistan, Nepal, Ethiopia and Kenya