Special needs girl in marathon fundraiser

Some of the students at Manzil. The support organisation needs funds to avoid closure. (SUPPLIED)

A girl with special needs will run three kilometres in Friday's Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2010, in order to prevent a special needs support organisation, Manzil, from losing the roof over their heads.

Talking to Emirates Business, 24-year-old Nilofar Saleem, who came to the Sharjah-based non-profit centre Manzil as a student in 2005 and now works for them in their administrative department said: "I am trying to raise funds for Manzil because they do so much for people with special needs and they were around to support me in my hour of need. Now they are facing a shortage of funds due to the recession so I want to do my bit to help them. That is why I am running three kilometres in Friday's marathon so that I can raise funds for Manzil."

Running 3km is not easy for Nilofar who finds it difficult to walk long distances at a stretch.

Ayesha Husaini, Director, Manzil, said: "Nilofar had an accident a year ago and she broke her ankle, which did not heal too well. Since then she has difficulty in walking for long distances. However Manzil is such an integral part of her life that she wants to do whatever she can to help us during these tough times and so she is participating in the marathon in order to raise funds for us."

According to Husaini, things have been tough for the centre which tries to offer education and vocational training for students with special needs so that they can be financially independent individuals.

"The recession has been tough on most of the people, but it has been the hardest for non-profit organisations like ours as we depend heavily on donations from companies and individuals.

"However, funding from our usual donors has dried up due to the recession and if we don't get help soon we will lose the roof over our heads as we don't even have money to pay rent," Ayesha Husaini said.

The average expense incurred by Manzil per student, per year is Dh55,000. The number of students usually remains around 40 and the teachers and support staff number 27. Only a few parents can afford to pay the centre's fee. The rest of the expenses of running the centre are met through donations which have been few this year. The centre is desperate for funds and hence most of the trustees, some of the staff and Nilofar are participating in the marathon in order to raise funds. Nilofar participated in last year's marathon too.

Giving the reason for her dedication to the organisation Nilofar said: "I came to Manzil in 2005 to do a two-year-course in Transitional Vocational Training so that I could become financially independent. After completing my course I opted to work for Manzil as their administration support staff as it was easier for me to commute from my home in Ajman to Sharjah. However, in 2007 my father died and for some time I was the sole earning member of my family.

"Then Manzil gave my mother a job as well and also took on my brother, who is also a person with special needs as a student. They have done so much for me and I just want to make sure that they don't close down due to lack of funds and can continue helping people like me, " she said.

n For donations, please contact Manzil on 06 534 7663 or 050 488 1662

 

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