Our Journey Towards…

Narrative

Sri Lankan Welfare Association – UAE, popularly known as SAHANA, was formed by the Sri Lankan community in UAE comprising, among others, of professionals, sports teams and alumni, to fulfill the need of having a common Sri Lankan community group to address the needs of Sri Lankan expatriates in the UAE. It all started when, on 3 May 2012, a local newspaper headline reported that “Drainage acid leaves Dubai woman disfigured”. When Sri Lankans in UAE learned that the person concerned was an expatriate’s wife, who was also the mother of a baby boy, they came forward to assist the young family.This incident provoked a group of like-minded Sri Lankan expatriates to get together and discuss what assistance they could give to Sri Lankans if and when they may face similar situations. Those who participated in these discussions came from various social backgrounds. Most were already active in informal community groups such as social clubs, sports clubs, old boys’ groups, etc.

They decided to establish a formal organization that meets the regulatory needs of the UAE, with the intention of organizing charity work with a focus. Thus was born SAHANA, the Sri Lankan Welfare Association of the UAE. The core focus of SAHANA is to assist the expatriate Sri Lankans in UAE when needed, regardless of the person’s status or background. This approach was an important departure from the activities of the many existing community groups. Such groups were supporting many worthy causes in Sri Lanka, but were not focused on helping and taking care of the needy Sri Lankans in the UAE. SAHANA filled this critical void, and has been providing relief to the deserving Sri Lankans in UAE, ever since 2012.Our volunteers provide great assistance by committing their valuable time, successfully organizing and getting involved in the Association’s many social activities, including fund-raising events. We also have a qualified group of counsellors, including doctors, who regularly conduct counselling sessions on varied topics for the benefit of the community.

All activities of SAHANA are guided by its Vision and Mission statements:

Vision

To be led by a kind-hearted, diverse group of Sri Lankans consistently delivering efficient, effective care and protection to needy Sri Lankans in the United Arab Emirates

Mission

To cultivate a sense of caring for needy Sri Lankans by serving them with kindness, respect and hope In line with the Vision and the Mission, we have set out our objectives, namely:

1. To support and assist Sri Lankan expatriates when they are in need of help

2. To form a common Sri Lankan community group without any barriers

3. To organise workshops, medical camps and lectures for needy Sri Lankan expatriates

4. To work closely with Sri Lankan Embassy and Consul General’s Office in UAE in order to provide efficient and effective service to Sri Lankan community in UAE

5. To bring synergies among Sri Lankan community and SAHANA in the UAE

6. To extend our Social Responsibility to the UAE community by participating in local community services

In keeping with these objectives we have
  • Helped to settle hospital bills of expatriate in-patients who did not have the required financial means
  • Provided counselling, legal and financial assistance, etc to prisoners in need
  • Assisted in repatriating those who were stranded in the UAE
  • Facilitated Sri Lankan community members to find suitable job opportunities in the Gulf, particularly in the UAE
  • Assisted Sri Lankans to claim their dues from the Employment Bureau of Sri Lanka in co-ordination with the Sri Lankan Embassy/Consulate

and regularly organized events for needy Sri Lankan expatriates to

  • Educate them and create awareness of the relevant rules and regulations of the UAE in co-ordination with UAE government agencies, with a view to preventing them from getting into difficulties due to ignorance of such rules and regulations
  • Enhance their skills, e g computer literacy, communication skills, etc
  • Undergo medical check-ups, assisting those expatriates who were unable to afford the connected expenses
  • Provide advice and counselling on personal financial planning and other useful topics

On 10 September 2015, the Dubai Community Development Authority awarded SAHANA an official license to function as a non-profit welfare association. Sri Lankan Welfare Association thus became the first-ever Sri Lankan community group to receive Dubai government recognition.SAHANA now has its own office premises in Umm Hurair area in Dubai. SAHANA wants to be an inspiration to many people to open their hearts to those in need of help. We want to become synonymous with “Care and Protection” to all needy Sri Lankans living in the United Arab Emirates. Our aim is to bring together at least 1000 Sri Lankans as SAHANA members. This would provide us the necessary strength to assist and support many of the needy community members We would like to see more volunteers to join us in this noble social venture. We warmly welcome socially-conscious, kind-hearted individuals to join SAHANA by paying a monthly membership fee of only 10 dirhams, and get involved in our endeavors to mitigate the difficulties faced from time to time by some of our fellow countrymen living in the UAE.