After an injury last year a long time Abu Dhabi expatriate decided to fill a void in the community by helping others in need to get access to wheelchairs.
About a year ago, Manzer Qayyum unexpectedly found himself bed-ridden by a fracture in his ankle. He was looking out a window at people going by when he realised how important mobility truly can be.
Around the same time, he discovered the popular community group Abu Dhabi Q&A, created by the British expat Freya Jafar on Facebook. On it, he came across a Canadian expat who was desperately looking for a wheelchair for her injured aunt, unable to purchase one from a store as it was a public holiday.
“What if I keep some wheelchairs to rent out for free?” thought Qayyum.
Once he spread the word through Abu Dhabi Q&A, there was no looking back.
Qayyum, a Pakistani expat and former pilot, was eager to give back to the community after calling the UAE home for 43 years. Little did he know that over the next year and half, he would be lending wheelchairs to people from all walks of life, in expatriate communities from Canada, Asia and Europe
“We started with six wheelchairs,” Qayyum recalls. “Two from myself, two from my younger son, and two from my elder son.” After looking around, Qayyum found a small pharmacy run by an Egyptian family, who were ready to donate more. Responses to his Abu Dhabi Q&A post poured in.
“Some people need it for their relatives who come to visit Dubai, especially during festive seasons,” said Qayyum. “While sometimes it can be because a child got injured while playing football and needs to go to school in a wheelchair for the next few weeks.”
Qayyum delivers the wheelchairs to doorsteps mainly in Abu Dhabi, but after getting requests from Dubai and Sharjah he recruited his sons for picks and drop offs. His co-administrators at Abu Dhabi Q&A, Jaffar and Sadaf Sharif, have also donated wheelchairs. They now have 18, and what began as a service on a temporary but free basis expanded to permanently gift wheelchairs to those who could not afford one otherwise.
“The system runs on good faith,” says Qayyum. “It’s always been heartwarming to receive messages from people saying how helpful it was for their father who was visiting over the holidays, or for their child being able to go to school.”
Members of the Abu Dhabi Q&A community have reached out in bigger ways too: on Reem Island, the restaurant Natural Kitchen offered to serve as a pick up and drop-off point for the wheelchairs, as did Lahore Garden Grill, in the Mohammed bin Zayed Commercial Area.
So far 115 people have helped, which Qayyum believes has only been possible with blessings, support and donations.
“When you start helping, you’ll realise there’s a lot of good in humanity,” he said. “It just needs to be found.”
To help, go to Abu Dhabi Q&A on Facebook.com