RIYADH – Concerned over the spread of swine flu, members of the community have called on the management of the International Indian School in Riyadh (IISR) to have hand sanitizers and free facemasks available for people visiting their charity event. Others have called on people to stay away from the event.
The fair will be held on Thursday and Friday at the boys section of the school. This is an annual event which attracts thousands of people, including adults and children of all ages.
An unnamed Indian expatriate who has been a regular visitor to the fair, was critical of the timing of the event. The people in charge should plan things, which are in the larger interests of the community, he said.
If postponing this charity event, organized to raise funds for underprivileged students, was not possible, the management committee should take other safety measures announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Saudi Health Ministry. This includes washing hands or using sanitizers and covering faces with masks. This was the view of some Indian expatriates who did not want to be named.
Other expatriates warned people to stay away from the event.
“Avoid crowded places for the sake of your family,” said Salim, who said his cousin was diagnosed with swine flu and had to spend 17 days in the hospital for treatment.
Waqar Azam, the father of a teenaged student at the IISR, said the school management should have planned some other way to raise funds that could avoid the gathering of families with children.
IISR has an enrolment of around 10,000 students at its two premises in Rawda for boys and Naseem District for girls. The Parents Forum has been inundated with emails criticizing the timing of this charity event.
Azamullah Shareef, moderator of Parents Forum, an online group, lamented the management’s decision to organize the charity event at a time when the authorities are trying to control the spread of swine flu.
“We should not forget that one of the schools in Riyadh was closed down recently after the students were diagnosed with swine flu,” he said.
However, Ahmed Imthias, the management committee’s chairman said the decision to organize this year’s fair was taken at a special meeting attended by eminent Indian community leaders, who were invited based on a list provided by the Indian Embassy.
“The funds generated by this event would be used to support the education of needy students,” he said.
He said Manzar Jamal Siddiqui, the IISR Principal and Head of Institution (HOI), made a power point presentation highlighting the charity work that the school management is offering to needy students.
Siddiqui’s presentation had disclosed the funds generated at such events and disbursement during the past three years, he said.
The Indian Ambassador M.O.H. Farooq will open the event on Thursday as chief guest and Dr. Khalid S. Al-Suhaim, Director-General Private and Foreign Education Department, Ministry of Education will be the guest of honor.
The event will be open from 5:30 to 11:30 P.M. – SG