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Coronavirus: UAE resident builds ‘buddy system’ to help community members during COVID-19 pandemic

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It was a humble message that Dubai-resident Anna Arzua MacMillan left on her social media pages that modified issues for her in a single day in the course of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Hi, I’m Anna. I live in Dubai,” she stated. “If you’re elderly, suffer from a chronic condition or have special needs, please don’t hesitate to message me. I will gladly do what I can to assist you in this difficult time.”


Very quickly MacMillan’s social pages had strangers writing in for help. “Hello Anna,” one wrote, “I’m lonely and I need to talk to someone.” Then there was one other, saying, “I have lost my job, can you help.” Or, “Hello Anna, I am dealing with anxiety and I need to speak to a professional for help.”


The buddy system


It was then that Anna MacMillan considered mobilizing the community to share no matter assets every member had to help those that wanted it probably the most. And so, the group #InThisTogether – UAE Buddy was born.



The initiative connects individuals to individuals as a result of MacMillan believes that “despite the social distancing, we need to stick together as a community.”


“The UAE Buddy system is all about a community of people aiming to support each other during this pandemic. It’s all about connecting people willing to help, with those who need help during the Coronavirus Crisis. I wanted to make sure that nobody felt left behind. And I wanted to help the small businesses as we tried to readapt to this new normal,” explains MacMillan, who can also be a part of the favored Ramadan Sharing Fridges initiative in Dubai.


MacMillan says that her mom who resides alone in Spain impressed the initiative. “It started with the need to find help for her. My family is at the epicenter of this crisis. My mom, who is immune-compromised and lives in Spain alone, needed someone to walk her dog. So, I had arranged for our younger neighbors to help her. It made me feel that in the UAE we also can extend support to vulnerable members of the community,” she says


Sense of togetherness


MacMillan began with checking on buddies and neighbours, reassuring them that they might rely on her as household. “We’ve lived in the UAE for more than 13 years. This is our home, we love it as our own. The idea of this initiative is to become more connected than ever, and putting technology to work for good, to help us regain the sense of togetherness.”


So how does the initiative work?


The platform presents help in varied areas: emotional and psychological help; connecting job hunters to individuals who can help discover a place, providing to do grocery purchasing for somebody with a continual well being situation, taking good care of somebody’s pet in the event that they fall sick or want to be hospitalized, sending letters to appreciation to frontline staff, and sharing data by mentorship to organizations struggling in a difficult market. All mentors are licensed specialists who volunteer with their time. What’s fascinating right here is that MacMillan has launched a barter settlement maintaining in thoughts the freelancers and the SMEs.


“The idea is to help businesses to keep actively working through collaborations and barter agreements, where the exchange of services could solve the problem of cash flow, and maintain businesses rolling by sharing resources. For example, if there is a social media marketing manager who is currently freelancing and a cafe owner, they can use the barter system where the freelancer can offer digital marketing services in return for some free meals. Any community member with goodwill can always find ways to support the community,” says MacMillan.



Psychological Well being


“If we can offer whatever resources we have as a tool to navigate through this time of uncertainty, then we can come together as a community and build stronger bonds,” says MacMillan who stresses on the significance of psychological well being during such instances of disaster. Community members can register on the web site after which comply with the group by the fb and Instagram pages. At present it has about 500 members and rising every single day.

“For many parents in the UAE homeschooling is a new concept. But there are many others who have been using this system for years altogether. Our space gets both families on the same platform to help them exchange experiences and support each other,” says MacMillan.


To each household within the UAE, driving the disaster, MacMillan needs to say that “someone has got their back. You are not alone. We need to think of how we will build once this is behind us. It is a call to the community to readapt and to come together to keep up the continuity of work.”

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