Meet the Dream Society, offering hope to Bahrain's severely sick children
Time Out Bahrain staff
A group of dedicated individuals are working hard to make dreams a reality for severely sick children in Bahrain. We speak to Dreams Society board member Mashael Fairooz to find out how we can all help.
Thousands of kids in Bahrain suffer from a range of terminal illnesses and debilitating diseases. The harsh reality is that some of these children will only grow to be a few years old and will live most of their lives in a sterile hospital, unable to experience the joys of life. Knowing this, a few ladies set out to introduce the Dreams Society. A group that works tirelessly to ensure as many of these kids as possible have at least one of their dreams come true. Mashael Fairooz, one of the ladies that has been involved since the beginning, tells us more about what this fantastic organisation has done.
Where did you find the inspiration for setting up Dreams Society? It was an idea that came between a group of friends. The person who came up with it was Mariam Al Shekar. She called a few of us and asked us ‘Do you want to do something for charity?’ Then her and my friend Eman Nooruddin came up with the idea for Dreams and all us girls decided we wanted to help. Since then, things have been going really well for us.
What story has touched your hearts most in recent memory? All of them to be honest. Each one of the kids has a special story and a special dream. Each has touched us in a different way. We know them by age, name and health condition and they have become like family to us.
Personally speaking though, Abbas ‘the Spiderkid’, which was a dream we fulfilled during our ‘30 days 30 dreams’ Ramadan campaign, and I was responsible for, is one that touched my heart. I have been quite close to him for the past three years as we’ve been doing events in the hospital and this kid touched my heart a lot with his personality and how he reacts to people.
What has been the most difficult dream to make come true? None of them are particularly challenging but some we have to turn down because the child is unable to do the dream due to their condition. This is the challenge – to convince the child to change his or her dream. We also have to make sure it’s their dream and not their parents’ dream.
What we do is we sit with them and try to divert their attention from their family to get the real dream. But sometimes it’s travelling to Disney for instance and it’s hard to fulfil this for some of the children because of their condition. But we tell them all the sky is the limit.
How can the general public help you with your cause? All they need to do is come forward and ask to see the list of kids we have and see what their dreams are. We don’t have difficulties raising money and we really appreciate this from individuals and companies whether they contribute financially or their specific products.
Anybody can get involved but they have to be registered by the charity. All you have to do is register and pay a member’s fee of BD20 per year. We do that to keep track of members and make use of them. Once they get approved by the board and get invited – and honestly speaking everyone does get approved – we ask what they want to get involved with and according to that we place them within the society. Some people would want to be in the marketing committee or in the dreams committee or fundraising.
When we have big fundraising events we get everyone involved but for small dreams where we only need a few members, we send an email out and ask who would like to help.
If a child or family needs your help, what should they do? The kids we help are not limited by nationality, religion, age – anyone is entitled as long as they’re terminally ill or debilitated. If they are then they should contact us. We have a medical team to decide if they qualify for a dream. We don’t get involved in the medical side but all these kids are registered with hospitals. If they’re not then they’re not terminally ill.
What has been the proudest moment for the society so far? Personally I would think young team members working together and making things happen is the nicest thing so far. It took a lot of time and effort to put the rules down and make this society happen. Now we can see it all happening, it’s just amazing.
What kinds of activities do you host throughout the year? We have two types – fun activities and fundraising. The fun activities are decided by board members and depend on the time of year and what’s going on – for example the Bahrain International Air Show, Formula 1, Spring of Culture. Otherwise, through the year, we have fun events in the hospitals and in the wards for the kids such as face painting, clay sculpting, bear making, food, clowns. That’s the fun part.
It’s just important that people are aware of what we do. We’re making this child’s dream come true. These kids don’t have a long life and they live most of it in hospitals. It’s important to see the smile on their faces. Through the ‘30 days 30 dreams’ challenge it’s been emotionally disturbing but it’s worth it even through the tears to see the smiles. Follow the Dreams Society on Facebook (search ‘Dreams’) or on Twitter @DreamsSociety.
Spiderkid to the rescue
Six-year-old Abbas Fadhel Al Haiki has been battling leukaemia for the past three years and his dream was to be Spiderman. So, to make his wish come true, the Dreams Society in association with Bahrain City Centre, Bahrain Cinema Company and two Bahraini film directors, hosted an event at the mall which gave Abbas the opportunity to dress up as his favourite superhero character and help big Spiderman foil a (staged) robbery. The mugging of a lady’s handbag happened mid-movie while Abbas and his family were watching the ‘Amazing Spiderman 2’. Once they caught the robber, the duo then walked out of the cinema to a cheering crowd. Abbas told the Gulf Daily News, ‘This is the best day of my life and I am so happy... I wish I can be Spiderman forever.’