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Digging Wells & Getting Inspired with the Dubai Changemakers

As an expat, it can be difficult to make a social impact in an adopted city. There might be language barriers, or it can be difficult to make contact with non-governmental organizations. The InterNations Changemakers offer a solution to these hurdles and aim to offer hands-on activities to help expats and locals alike make a difference in their community.

Amr Heikal is an Egyptian expat living in Dubai and has been a Changemakers Consul since February 2019. Like the Consuls of many Changemakers Groups, he has partnered with a local NGO, Dar al Ber Society, to drill a fresh water well in Benin. In this interview, Amr offers his advice to anyone wishing to get involved with the InterNations Changemakers and tells us how he has brought about this project.

What inspires you to be a Changemakers Consul?

While attending InterNations events and activities, I noticed there were many members eager to give back to the community. As an HR professional, I manage the company's CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities. I thought I could transfer this experience to our InterNations Changemakers group. I have always volunteered with charity organizations since childhood. However, since I started living outside my own country, I hadn’t been involved on a personal level with a charity. The InterNations Changemakers offered me the platform to pursue my passion.

How did you choose this Non-Profit Organization?

Before choosing an NGO, I need to make sure that the organization is reputable. It is important to check the legal setup of the NGO and make sure it is registered with the proper ministry or authority. I also try to get feedback from people who have partnered with that NGO in the past before starting to work with them. Some NGOs are more flexible than others, and you will only discover this after meeting with them. The main reason I chose the current organization their fresh water well projects is that drilling a well has an immediate impact on people's lives, so we can see the effect our project will have on the community. Water is literally the essence of life!

What is your advice to other Changemakers Consuls to get inspired?

a) Contact the local NGOs in your community and see what projects they currently have. Instead of reinventing the wheel, collaborate with those NGOs and give them support.

b) Think big! Think of a small project that will have a direct impact on the community. If you start with a big project, it will take a very long time to reach your goal and members might lose interest along the way. A small project will take less time and will give you a sense of achievement.

c) The smaller the NGO, the more cooperative and innovative they will be. They will go out of their way to make your Changemakers Activity successful.

d) Try to find the NGO staff that are passionate and cooperate with them.

e) Make sure you follow the law of the country you are living in. You might need a special authorization or license in order to collect donations.

How do you encourage members to take part in your activities?

Posting your activity early allows other members to plan their personal schedules accordingly. It makes it more likely for them to attend your activity and results in a better attendance on the actual day! Asking other Consuls to sponsor your activity is a good idea, too. Those Consuls will attract their close InterNations friends and members of their own groups to the activity. You can also ask your community manager for support with promoting your activity to active members.

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