Qatar: Online Community Comes to the Aid of Workers

Early this week a fire broke out at a labour camp in Doha, Qatar, which destroyed the belongings of 600 workers. Labour camps in the Gulf states are usually large single sex-segregated dormitories that house hundreds of migrant workers who earn around $220 a month. The Gulf Times broke the story with details of the devastating impact of the fire on the labourers. Within hours of the story being reported, it was posted to the online community Qatar Living by SPEED under the headline “Appeal for QL donations for needy Labourers!” where he made this appeal to site members:

I feel pity for these labourers and wish to help them whatever I can.Humble request to All Qlers: Please if anyone can visit the site and donate whatever you can, New or Used Blankets/Pillows/Bedsheets/Mattress/Clothes/Shoes/Dry Food items such as rice, cereals, grains etc…They are in bad need of donations, they have lost everything and I am sure their sponsor will not provide them with eveything they have lost except few Qatari Riyal …. last time in another incident the sponsor compensated QR. 100 only to each labour !! Do you think this amount will help them to cover their loss ???

His plea generated over 200 responses in two days. It was a powerful example of how an online community organised itself to provide real world assistance to a mostly marginalised offline community. Through the on-going discussion members of Qatar Living rallied to collect supplies and money which they would distribute to the workers affected by the fire.

Gulf Time, the national paper who first reported the story subsequently published another article on the massive community response to the fire:

After Gulf Times highlighted the plight of the 600 workers it triggered a rapid and heartfelt response from Doha residents with one community website being among the first to organise aid donations.

Posting a plea on Qatar Living, the samaritan named ‘Speed’ urged other members to gather blankets, sheets, mattresses, clothes, shoes and food items. His call was immediately answered with pledges of help.

Planning for the aid is still on-going. Users Scarlett, SPEED and PWB have organised drop-off points in Doha where people can leave donations tomorrow. A number of community members will then take the donations to the affected workers.

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