Fire Victims Move on with UAE’s Enormous Assistance

DUBAI: As cliché as it may sound, tragedy brings people together – and nowhere was this more glaring than in the aftermath of the recent Muraqqabat fire incident, that left hundreds of people homeless and swiftly roused the community into donation drives and fundraisers because it was the only humane thing to do.

Some 152 of the estimated 500 fire victims have been moved to a building in Hor Al Anz, where they will be staying temporarily in 17 of 19 flats for the next three months paid for by the owner of the gutted Al Shamsi Building on Salahuddin Street where they had lived.

The rest have either sought refuge at friends’ and relatives’ flats or were provided temporary shelter by their employers.

2015-1203 Fire Victims Move on with UAE’s Enormous Assistance2

This even as an overseas Filipino worker who was home-bound for Christmas and whose two balikbayan boxes were reduced to ashes during the fire, recommended that a trauma center be created to provide counselling for OFWs suffering from depression as a result of the incident.


Meantime, such was the outpouring of support that the Philippine Consul General (PCG) had to issue a public announcement on Nov. 27 telling the community it will stop accepting donations for lack of holding space – barely four days after it held the drive.

The Filipino Times offices, too, were cramped with boxes upon boxes of goods, including towels, linens and matresses, from Rotana Hotels and Star Deira Hotel, after launching an online donation drive on Nov. 24.

“The Philippine Consulate in Dubai and the Northern Emirates extends its gratitude to all the well-meaning individuals and groups for their time, donations and effort to help our fellow kababayans who were affected by the recent fire in Muraqqabat,” PCG said in a statement.

“The generous donations have provided the victims with their essential needs including food and clothing. Their generosity will go a long way in helping rebuild the lives of those who desperately need assistance. The outpouring of support for others in distress manifests the humanity beyond the borders of ethnicity, nationality and citizenship. Together we defined the true meaning of bayanihan. MaramingSalamatpo (Thank you very much).”

Goods and other donations collected at PCG were centralized at the Hor Al Anz shelter, according to ZeehanPendaliday, Community Relations Officer, SangguniangMasang Pilipino International, Inc. (SMPII), a civic group.


SMPII, together with ProSpeed, were the volunteer groups tasked by PCG to repack relief goods that have been pouring in.

A separate group of Filipino photographers and models also held a fundraiser and delivered relief goods to the victims.

“When the PCG saw the bulk of donations that kept coming in, Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes released an advisory to Task Force UAE to conduct a repacking of all goods at the POLO OWWA to segregate them in an orderly manner,” said Pendaliday.

“We came up with a plan to allot 17 family boxes for all the 17 flats now occupied by the Filipino victims. Each box contains all their basic needs that they can consume for the next three months. All goods must be repacked and distributed to all flats within today as per order of the consul general,” Pandaliday added.

Pendaliday said a company which declined to be identified has pledged to provide washing machine, refrigerator, cooking equipment, and clothesline for all 17 rooms.

The show of support has also earned praise from other nationalities.

She said, “The help came from different individuals, a few organizations who wished to remain anonymous, and there were also companies. We tried to record the names of the sources, but most of them didn’t place their identities on their packages of relief goods. The quantity of the goods was really overwhelming. It’s just like we were doing relief operations for typhoon victims in the Philippines. Other nationalities were so impressed with our bayanihan spirit. Even the victims were overwhelmed by the show of support from the Filipino community.”

The victims have started reporting for work.

They are still waiting for advice from the building owner if they will be paid for the damages that the fire has caused to their belongings, it was gathered.


A group of photography enthusiasts held a fundraiser on Nov. 27 and was able to collect Dh2,500 (PhP32,130) plus goods and other in-kind donations that were handed out to the Hor Al Anz shelter on the same day.

“All of those who joined brought their donations or made financial contributions during the photography fundraiser,” said Ricky Pao, spokesperson.

The amount, he said, was placed in envelopes with each having Dh200 and was given to the shelter’s occupants along with goods. He said around 50 people joined the fundraiser.

Among those staying in temporary shelters outside of the Hor Al Anz refuge center is Troy Lo Tabamo, who works at a remittance center and is staying with seven other OFWs in Al Rigga.

Tabamo said he was scheduled to be home by December 14, 2015 and was ready with two care boxes (balikbayan boxes) which, unfortunately, were among those gutted along with his passport.

“Napakasakitperokailangangbumangon (It was quite a misfortune but we have to move on),” he said.


Tabamo said his group has been visited by civic organizations, among them Couples for Christ, Servants of the Lord and representatives from the Filipino Muslim community to provide donations.

He also expressed gratitude for Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes who took prompt action in ensuring that those left homeless were given due assistance.

“They were very accommodatingat the Consulate, especially Consul General Cortes and Consul Ferdinand Flores. I was there on Nov. 25 and I saw them personally tending to the victims,” Tabamo said.

He said PCG may want to consider putting up a trauma desk to provide psychological counseling to the victims.

“May mga OFWs po nag-iisalangsiladitosa Dubai. Anonagagawinnila? Bakasilamawindang, masiraanngulosakakaisip, o magpakamatay (There are OFWs living alone here in Dubai. What will happen to them? They might lose their mind or commit suicide due to depression),” he said.

Meantime, Ken Peralta, Little Manila brand manager said all of the restaurant’s 67 employees who were among those rendered homeless by the fire stayed at Dream Palace Hotel for a week on company expense.

“Now,” he said, “they have moved to a building behind Dnata in Deira where they will stay permanently.”

Peralta said no one was hurt or injured. “They are all doing well now and in high spirits. We had a special Thanksgiving Mass last Saturday, November 28, for all the staff. It was performed by Father Bartolome of the Apostolic Catholic Church,” he said.



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