DUBAI // About 8,000 people yesterday experienced what each day is like for children who must travel great distances on foot to reach their schools.

Dubai Cares organised its fifth “Walk for Education” charity drive at Jumeirah Beach Park on Friday morning.

Among those who heeded the call was Vincent Onyango, 30, from Nairobi.

“I was one of the kids who had to walk 3km from my home to school and back every day for eight years,” Mr Onyango said.

“This event really means a lot to me – I’ve participated in it now for the past three years. Every year it gets better and bigger, and that makes me so happy because I know which children will benefit from this.”

Mr Onyango, a customer-service representative at the Burj Khalifa, said the walk made him nostalgic about his school days.

“I remember what it was like,” he said. “Parents would struggle to get the money to send their children to school. For underprivileged families these events can change lives.”

Each participant in the fund-raiser paid a Dh30 entry fee, all of which goes to charity, and many of the walkers were being sponsored.

Rana Saada, whose daughter Lana, 1, has Down syndrome, said: “I’m here because this event can be a platform for me to raise awareness about education for children with special needs.”

Mrs Saada talked to people about the need for better education and awareness while her husband stood by her side with Lana.

“I’m a teacher, so education is a very important subject to me,” said the 40-year-old Jordanian.

Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares, said: “Although our philanthropic work is based in developing countries around the world, the UAE community has always been our pillar of strength and support.

Thanks to your constant generosity, in terms of time as well as funds, we have been able to reach more than 8 million children across 31 countries and provide them with the tools to break the cycle of poverty and build a future of personal, professional, economic and social prosperity.”

The annual walk is an opportunity for members of the UAE community to volunteer their time, enjoy fun activities with family and friends and meet new people.

It was followed by entertainment and activities at the beach park for the rest of the day.