The roar of motorcycle engines breached the calm on a lazy Friday to bring to the fore an issue slowly gaining prominence across the world. As around 200 bikers, mostly members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG), Qatar Chapter, rode along the streets of Doha, onlookers knew the bikers were campaigning to raise public awareness on autism which is a developmental disorder.
Looking apeealing in their boots, jackets, gloves and helmets, the pack of riders gathered at the Qatar International Exhibition Center and zoomed their way to the Corniche up to the Emiri Diwan Roundabout, culminating their journey at the Shafallah Center. Staff and children from Shafallah also joined the group of riders. The charity ride was organised by HOG in coordination with Shafallah Centre for children with Special Needs. Shafallah recently launched an Autism Awareness Programme to support the Second World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) observed on April 2.
“We are here under the umbrella of the Shafallah Centre and we’re doing this for children with autism. We gathered all the bikers to join this event,” Mohammad Abdullah, organiser, told The Peninsula, adding all bikers were invited to participate in the charity ride.
“Everyone is welcome to join this ride for autism to raise our voice supporting them; they all need our support not just money,” said Mohammad Abdullah.
“This event is being held in the GCC countries. Around 250 bikers are expected to participate,” said Maria, Treasurer of HOG, which has formed four years back. Not only men but also women bikers enlisted their participation in the campaign. “Autism is something that isn’t widely discussed. A lot of children suffer from the disorder which can be controlled,” said Dinky, one of the female
members of HOG. She has been been involved in many projects as a biker even back in her home country of Zimbabwe. “It is important to make people aware that something can be done. People can help people and the whole thing with the bikers is that we do charity, we help people, we talk to people and that it’s just good to be part of that,” Dinky said. Only one of the three disease-specific United Nations Days, WAAD is observed around the world by virtue of a resolution tabled by Qatar in December 2007. H H Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, supported the campaign for a World Autism Awareness Day through the 62nd UN General Assembly Session, garnering consensus support from all United Nations Member States.
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