Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dallas Youth Volunteers Take Their Humanitarian Spirit Overseas

by Amy Yen, Digital Communications Manager, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Brothers Hamza and Rayaan Akbar are 16 & 14 years old respectively. But while kids their age usually spend their spare time playing video games, the Akbar boys give their time to the Red Cross.

As youth volunteers at the Dallas chapter, they’ve helped organize blood drives at their school, participated in a call-a-thon to raise funds for disaster relief and helped collect signed holiday cards for service members at Dallas Cowboys Rally Day. But they specifically chose to volunteer for the Red Cross so they could volunteer even when they’re away from home.

“We travel every few months and we wanted to volunteer somewhere where we could continue to volunteer when we travel, like we did this summer. The Red Cross is everywhere,” explained Hamza.

Dallas youth volunteers Hamza and Rayaan Akbar volunteered for the
Indian Red Cross over the summer.
When they visited India over the summer, they took their volunteering overseas and lent their time to the Indian Red Cross. Volunteering for the Dehradun chapter, they helped provide relief to people affected by floods and landslides in the area. They cleared out a warehouse, organized supplies and transported them by bus to make sure they got to the people who needed them. 

“There’s obviously always people willing to help, but they can’t give everyone what they need in a disaster. The Red Cross is always able to get people what they need,” said Hamza. “Some people lost all their kitchenware & some lost blankets & beds & chairs. We got them what they needed.”

Speaking with the Akbar boys about the challenges of working in a relief effort in the unstable political environment of India, it’s easy to forget neither boy is old enough to vote or have a driver’s license.

“We had to make sure everyone got what they needed equally, no matter who they are,” explained Hamza.

Hamza and Rayaan also got to visit three hospitals while they were in India. They spoke with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and got a donation of books to distribute through the Red Cross to residents at the hospitals. 

The Akbar boys present donated ophthalmology books to
residents at an Indian hospital.
“That was my favorite part. I like meeting the residents because they were so happy to get the books. They didn’t have those kinds of books. We thought it was a good idea because many of them want to go to America to study, and this is a good way to get background,” Hamza explained.

Now that the Akbars are back in the States, they want to look at starting a Red Cross Club at their school and possibly organizing a 5K run to benefit the Red Cross.

“I feel good when I get to help someone who needs it,” said Rayaan.

Both boys encouraged other young people to consider volunteering.

“If you want to help others, volunteering is great. You can do a lot of stuff with your time, but if you actually want to help & make your time worth it, you should volunteer at an organization like the Red Cross,” said Hamza. “I get to help people, and I think that’s cool. It makes me feel good. It’s a good use of your time.”

Thank you, Hamza and Rayaan, for your service and for being such inspirational young leaders in our community!

Know a young humanitarian who might want to join the Akbar brothers in volunteering? Learn more about our youth volunteering opportunities.

1 comment:

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