To help everybody usher in 2016 on a positive note, a group of Ismaili volunteers in Dubai visited the Rashid Hospital Trauma Center to bring new year festivities to the patients.

In what has become an annual tradition, the Aga Khan Scouts and Aga Khan Guides Group (AKSG), together with Oxygen Management Consultants organises the Spread a Smile event, which takes place each 31 December. Volunteers take gifts and balloons to celebrate the beginning of a new year with patients who are unable to join their families and friends.

Managing Director Muneer Samnani of Oxygen Management Consultants started the initiative with his two friends in 2010 as a small project. It has since grown in scale with support of the Scouts and Guides.

“Collaborating with AKSG has been a huge impact for Spread a Smile,” he says. “It has brought more energy and passion to the project.”

Oxygen partnered with the Scouts and Guides four years ago. Based at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai and registered with Sharjah Scout Mission, the main purpose for the Aga Khan Scouts and Guides Group is to serve the community. The group has been active in planning and participating in major events in the United Arab Emirates, including the Terry Fox Run, Diabetes Walk and the Clean Up UAE campaign.

This year, around 40 Spread a Smile volunteers welcomed the new year with approximately 125 patients, touching them with a spirit of joy and celebration. Volunteers shared jokes, listened to the patients’ stories and put smiles on their faces.

“Spread a Smile, like its name, has a simple purpose of bringing joy to people who have suffered and are unable to spend the festive season among their loved ones," says Amirali Shariff, AKSG Scout Leader. All the gifts and balloons were sponsored by the volunteers.

“It really changes the atmosphere of the hospital,” says Muneer Samnani. “We also bring balloons and chocolates for the nurses. This act of giving back is very self-satisfactory and makes the new year very special for all the patients and volunteers, including me.”