We can tell a lot about a country from the condition of its streets, buildings and services, how well maintained they are, how well painted and signed. The streets tell a story about the economics, politics and culture of the country. Streets with countless pockmarks, streets flooded by open sewage or littered with broken sidewalks, not to mention dilapidated signboards, especially in the lower income expatriate areas, read of poverty, neglect and lack of community. Without a word, it tells visitors that the area is not looked after by the neighborhood itself nor by the government. This is the reason why four years ago, a group of volunteer citizens and residents started ‘Q8 Needs You’ and decided to turn Kuwait into a better place.
Kuwait needs you Abdullah Al-Shammari is the one in charge of the ‘Q8 Needs You’ campaign. He sat down with Kuwait Times to talk about his campaign and his goals and vision for a better Kuwait. “Many citizens and expats are working together in the campaign,” said the 33-year-old Shammari. “With the exception of our group that founded the campaign, we have more than 10,000 followers who are volunteering and helping us [in the campaign],” he said.
Call for action The non-profit campaign tries to encourage citizens and residents to contribute to the service of Kuwait and to aspire to monitor the negative phenomena and manifestations in the community and highlight them until they are solved and reduced. Shammari remarked their vision is that everyone can help make Kuwait a better place by sharing pictures and videos of problems or defects in the services and facilities of government agencies and associations whether it is about cleanliness, traffic issues or humanitarian issues. “Q8 Needs You allows everyone to report issues with public services. The way it works is very simple: you snap a photo of the problem, specify what the issue is, along with its location, and then send it,” he said. “So after receiving the issues, we tag the competent ministry to solve the problem,” he added. Shammari stressed that they also file all the reports they receive in person with the relevant ministry.
Shammari said they aim to establish the concept of volunteer work, justice through the principle of the rule of law, as well as providing assistance and legal aid for humanitarian cases through advice and guidance, taking advantage of the professional competencies, monitoring and recording and documenting humanitarian cases in the form of daily reports and giving them to concerned authorities to solve. Shammari asserted they are trying their best to show the good side of the Kuwaiti society. Q8 Needs You held a meeting with the Minister of Municipality and Deputy General Manager assistants, Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic and Director of the Department Cleaning (Kuwait Municipality), the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works and his deputy assistants, Director General of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and Director of Civil Aviation to discuss and exchange ideas and state the negatives attached to some of the topics.
Fact checking The campaign is divided into groups of citizens and residents, where some are in charge of receiving the issues and publishing them through their laptops, smart phones or computers, while the others are in charge of checking if the issue is true or false. For example, if a needy family asked them to publish their problem, they will go first to their apartment to check what they really need. Humanitarian cases As for the humanitarian cases, Ahmed Salem Abu Moath is in charge in visiting those cases in person and said Q8 Needs You tries its best to bring the smile back in people’s faces and let their suffering go away, especially for children that could not get back to school. “We found 780 needy students were in KD 22,000 debt in one school.
At first, the charity fund of the Ministry of Education responded to our requests to help those bedoon (stateless) children, but they could not help much because they had a limited budget and they cannot help everyone,” he said. The campaign focused on the children of wars, Iraqi and Syrian children, especially the divorcees and widows who had no one to support them financially. So they started to help the outstanding students who always get a high mark, adding it would be a waste of time and money if they paid for someone who does not care about school. In an emotion0al moment, Moath shared one case that affected him deeply. “One humanitarian situation that affected us was a family with no father. The mother had eight daughters with no single male to help them,” he said. Moath disclosed every case they had affected them in some way. “We always follow up on them. Our team is always prepared and ready to help anyone and to make sure that the person really needs our help and effort.” He revealed some people they meet were not from poor families, but their circumstances forced them to. “We even helped a man with his child school fees and he started to cry and we cried with him. He told us that this is his first time to ask someone for help since he cannot just stand without trying to help his kid,” he said. Scholarships Q8 Needs You commits itself to providing scholarships to 40 students every year. One of the volunteers in Q8 Needs You is paying the school fees for some of those children. Follow the group on Instagram @Q8needsyou
By Faten Omar