Education City students aid Qatar’s migrant worker community

Photo retrieved from

Photo retrieved from

As the authorities in Qatar take steps to improve the working conditions of migrant workers, students in Education City are offering help with finances, daily necessities and English classes to support the migrant worker community in Qatar.

A group of students from Georgetown University in Qatar have started a project to create video packages for the low-income workers showing how to cut down their daily spending and save money for long-term use.

“What we aim to do is to show them how to create this cushion (money) so that if there is any untoward incident they can cope with it,” said Ahwaz Akhtar, a sophomore at GU-Q involved in the project. These include emergency visits to one’s home country, medical expenses and family finances.

Akhtar, with six other students from GU-Q, including Salman Khan, Hisham Hassan, Sherif El Gindi, Atul Menon, Fatima Hubail and Salar Khan is working on the project with two other faculty and staff members.

The project, funded by a $60,000 grant from Qatar National Research Fund and expected to be complete by August 2014, will be translated into different languages and shown to the migrant workers through multiple screenings at their residential areas, distribution of free DVD copies and online access to the videos.

Purple Project, a community service student club at Northwestern University in Qatar, is collecting donations for Purple Package Day, when the custodial and security staff in the NU-Q and CMU-Q building will be given bags containing daily necessities like milk, flour, tea, a toothbrush, soap, shampoo etc.

“Not many people realize how much [the workers] help us in our day-to-day life. Hopefully, the Purple Package will help them out for the next couple of months and provide them with basic necessities to feed and take care of themselves,” said Hend Darwish, president of Purple Project.

NU-Q has also previously organized two events where the students hosted workers in the university for lunch to thank them for their hard work.

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s Language Bridges program, which provides free basic English language classes to the laborers has entered its fifth year. According to Natalia Gatti, the research associate at CMU-Q who helps in managing the program, 87 workers and 35 teachers (student volunteers) are currently enrolled into this 8-week long course. Workers inside and outside Education City are enrolled into the program, and students from any university are welcome to volunteer as teachers, said Gatti.

Similar programs to teach the migrant workers basic English are often also organized at Georgetown University and Weill Cornell Medical College but their organizers could not be reached for comment.

“Migration is an overwhelming reality in Qatar and the low-income migrant workers [here] are most vulnerable to a variety of pressures that can be really damaging to them. I think it’s our duty as students… to do something worthwhile that gets us out of our (comfort) bubble,” said Akhtar.


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