In an effort to help alleviate the plight of several homeless Iranian men working as porters at Qatar’s Central Market, some 200 residents have rallied around a new campaign to support them.
The project, dubbed #SaveHamaalis on Facebook, was launched after a widely circulated Doha News report highlighted the hardships many of these elderly employees face, including a lack of adequate shelter and vulnerability to crime.
Speaking to Doha News, Kim Wyatt, a 47-year-old Australian expat and one of the group’s founding members, explained how the initiative took off:
“(After I read the story,) I went to visit the hamaalis, talk to them and hear their personal stories. They are old, frail, homeless and poor.
Two days later, one of the worst sandstorms in recent years hit Qatar and I think the whole community felt a little vulnerable during that night. In the morning, I heard that hamaali Mansour had died during the storm. He had slept outside during the night. He was also crippled and asthmatic. I had only met him a few days earlier.”
Wyatt said she then put out a Facebook request asking people to spread the word about the hamaalis’ situation. At that point, several residents asked how they could help.
“So in direct response to that, I created the Facebook group #SaveHamaalis to provide a forum for positive discussion and action to save the hamaalis and to provide the essential necessities for living.”
‘Now we’re seen’
Together, the group has collected and donated mattresses, pillows, bedding, toiletries, clothes, shoes, cutlery, soap, phone cards, fans and medications for all seven men.
Speaking to Doha News, Abdullah, a 75-year-old hamaali, said the response has been overwhelming.
“People have been coming here everyday, talking to us, asking us how we’re doing, and helping us. We are so grateful. For years people have just passed us by, and now, we’re suddenly seen. We want to thank everybody who’s thought of us. We are humbled by this support,” he said.
Donations aside, the group is also hoping to help the men secure sustainable regular medical care, housing and food.
A week ago, one of the group’s members organized a private free health screening, where the men, most of whom have diabetes, arthritis, and other joint pains, were examined and given medication.
The group has also set up a food donations tab at a restaurant in the Central Market, where members can donate toward the mens’ QR25 daily food bills.
Fueled by this spark of attention, Abdullah and his friends have also begun to take action. Last week, they set out to look for affordable accommodation in surrounding areas.
“We couldn’t find a place where we can all live together. There’s nothing nearby. Everything is full, or people want only families to live. So we asked people we knew in Musherib, near the (Mercure) Hotel.
And we have found space! Friends and their friends have agreed to give us places in their homes. Two are near the market, and five of us, inshAllah, will live in the city,” he said.
To help the hamaalis pay for rent, the group has reached out to the Zakat Fund, a national charity overseen by the government that is dedicated to helping the needy, and are awaiting its response.
In the coming months, organizers of the group hope to expand their operations to help hamaalis at the Souq Waqif, Irani Souq and other establishments. Wyatt said:
“I hope to see #SaveHamaalis continue to grow and develop to help others in need and hopefully work with the Qatar government to tackle other aid projects in Qatar.
Looking at what we have completed in one week imagine what we could complete in one year? Hopefully, we (can) also indirectly given them back some sense of their own human dignity.”
Those who want to contribute to #SaveHaamalis can get in touch with organizers via the campaign’s Facebook page.
Donations being sought include clothes and bedding. The group is also working to obtain health cards for the men, and regular medications they need for their conditions.
“The people of Qatar have shown that they care and that they want to help. I think it’s time that the world hears positive stories from Qatar and realizes that there are people here who do want to create change and see results,” Wyatt said.
Good job Doha News team! Well done…
Just think what one fools money spent on a stupid license plate could do for these guys.
But then he couldn’t be cool without it. Hey look that guy has plate 377773! Coooool!
45 years and the state doesn’t given him citizenship…
It would be against the law.
They don’t want to share their pie with anyone.
woowww this is the good comment thank you..When iran power full they come to qatar iran passport very important they never take qatar passport. Tell Story MIMH pleasee
No Iranians when running from the religious dictatorship that is Iran, go to UK, U.S. Canada and Australia with a few going to Sweden.
They are only visit to Turkey not.EU.USA
Its only the rich Iranians that are allowed into those countries. Many of them are invited by the Shah loving Iranian diaspora.
Yes a lot were rich Iranians who supported the shah, but others were religious minorities persecuted by the Islamic religious dictatorship who tended to leave later after things got really bad for them. Iran was a much more diverse country before It became a religious dictatorship.
Sadly, he can’t play football.
Ah, good reading, good reading. Well done.
Where is their sponsor? How is the sponsor assisting?
They pay just for the RP, sponsor doesn’t care what they do after that. However that is illegal in Qatar and the sponsor is still responsible. How many sponsors do you see brought before a court for immigration infringements?
They don’t come to the hearings, usually.
Why don’t they pay for them to get a ticket back home, some money in their pocket to take on their way? They could be back with their family and in a society that respects them as citizens not as expats. You can help them now, but they will still have the same problem in one year, two years, ten years. It’s not helping.
Take Ethiopia for example, in the eighties many gave money and aid to try and beat starvation. In the eighties their population was 35 million, now it’s 80 million and there are still famines.
Kudos to DN team for follow-up. Indeed a humanitarian act, very well appreciated.
Awesome as always Chantelle! Thumbs up
This is really amazing. Now this is a positive step and something worthy of recognition. May Allah bless those who have helped these wonderful people 🙂
Thank God some help is finally on the way. Whether it’s from locals or expats or both…Hope the hamaalis get better quality of life ..
Al hamdulilah, this article brought tears of hapiness and joy to my eyes ! I’m so happy !!! I am joining the FBpage right now, and will help as much as I can soon ! Thank you for the admins and creators of this page !!!
Can we have a box collections(only money) like the charity box in every place to help these hammalis. The zakat fund should act immediately. also hmc should visit these hammalis once a week and do free check up.