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Hosting a “Free Market” for the Larger UDH Community

By Joe Hart
Hosting a “Free Market” for the Larger UDH Community

From a simple idea of kindness came a lesson in giving and community involvement on a Saturday morning at Udhailiyah School (UDH), Saudi Aramco.
Over the winter break, one of our NJHS students, a 15-year-old, learned from her uncle about something called the “Free Market.” Wanting to put on a similar event at our school, she asked the principal, who agreed. The Free Market would be a way to support our community in giving back to the many workers on our camp.
Families and staff members donated items they no longer needed or used, such as clothes, children’s toys, and household items. These items were collected and organized and provided to the contract workers on our camp. These workers come from various countries with very few of their own possessions; typically, they send their earnings to their families in the home country. It was obvious that many of them have families and children, since those items were chosen first, before they chose for themselves from the large selection of clothes.
From 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., all they had to do was to come to the table with an item they liked and ask one of our kids or parents for it. Well over 100 participants came, and each individual was provided with tickets and a sheet. Initially, a maximum of 10 items per person was set. However, that rule was changed to allow each to take two items for the “price” of one, so the workers could double up. It wasn’t because not enough participants turned up, on the contrary. There was just a surplus of goods because our community had been so generous in donating clothes and children’s toys and books.
The Free market gave our students a chance to recognize the many workers on our camp and to show appreciation for what they do for us. This was a win-win, where all involved came away with not only some items for themselves and their families, but our community was able to enjoy the feeling of helping others.
Many of our parents provided assistance in communicating with the workers, being from their various countries of origin and thus able to translate. Parents were also helpful in transporting items to the site where the workers live. We are fortunate to have a diverse community, and this event truly showcased our strengths, with the parents, staff, and most of all the students doing a lot of work to give back.
Items were collected over a four-week period and students were responsible for sorting and organizing them. This took time, since we accumulated items for 14 tables and plenty of choices for the many workers that participated. The organization and communication for this project was taken on by the students with the supervision of the NJHS sponsor. The majority of the planning, however, was done by a 15-year-old who wanted to do something for others.
For many of us, living overseas as an expat is an experience we cherish and enjoy, since the travel and opportunities are abundant. However, the workers on our camp often just want to provide for their families back in their home countries, so they sacrifice a lot by living far away without the luxury of traveling home whenever they want. Our students benefited from realizing that giving is something that doesn’t stop at the end of an event such as this. The workers were able to provide items for their families and themselves, which was the best part of the Free Market.
We all want our children to broaden their knowledge of the world while receiving an education in the classroom, but this Free Market provided an authentic learning experience that will stay with them for years to come. It proves that one person can make a difference in the lives of many and bring joy to others. The UDH community has something to be proud of, and even prouder of our middle-level students for supporting their classmate’s idea and giving back to every member of our community.
Joe Hart is Associate Principal of Udhailiyah School, Saudi Aramco.

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