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Bahraini entrepreneur Yaqoob Mubarak, whose efforts to help a Peruvian student have made him a humanitarian icon in South America, is due to present a letter from the Peruvian Congress to Bahrain’s Parliament opening diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Yaqoob was in Argentina, meeting with the Leo Messi Foundation to co-ordinate efforts with his own charity and the Royal Charity Foundation (RCF), and invite famous footballer Lionel Messi to Bahrain during Ramadan, when Covid-19 lockdowns in the region began.
The 33-year-old philanthropist told GulfWeekly: “I was able to make it to Peru, but was then quarantined.
“As the days turned into weeks, the lockdown kept getting extended. I missed my family a lot, but with my friend Gilberto (Rosas Landa) with me, we kept going. During this time, we kept getting messages on my Instagram asking for help from all over the country.
“If you can imagine, the unemployment jumped from around five per cent to nearly 20pc. So we started contacting local companies to put together a kit of food and medical supplies. Fairly soon, we had 10,000 kits and that’s when the government contacted us. A
“They had heard about our efforts online and extended the full support of the government.
“Over the next five months, while the country was in lockdown, members of the army accompanied us all over the country as we distributed almost 100,000 baskets, each of which contained food rations, face masks and other necessities.
“We were tested at least once-a-week and, fortunately, did not contract the virus ourselves.
“Many others, especially those in Lima, were not so lucky, as cases spiked across the country.
“We felt fortunate to be able to help those affected, as well as those who had lost their jobs as a result of the restrictions and, at the same time, help people learn more about Bahrain.”
The duo also assisted in the construction of large kitchens in more than 20 villages, where food for the entire community could be prepared.
As a result of their efforts, Yaqoob and Gilberto were invited to Peru’s Congress. They met with Manuel Merino, president of the Congress, who learned how to put on a ghutra, the traditional Arab head dress.
He also expressed an interest in exploring diplomatic, economic and cultural relations with Bahrain, presenting Yaqoob with an official ‘letter of intent’ for Bahrain’s Parliament.
“Several entrepreneurs in Peru have also expressed an interest in investing in Bahrain.” Yaqoob added,
“We ourselves plan to open a restaurant in Peru and find new fans for the Bahraini flavours of machboos and ouzi.
“A portion of the profits from the enterprise would continue to help any families or children in need.”
As previously reported by GulfWeekly, Yaqoob first travelled to South America last year to help Victor Cordova after receiving a viral video of the Peruvian student doing homework, from his friend, Gilberto.
Since then, Yaqoob has been helping families and children in need across South America, becoming a social media icon of Arab generosity and humanitarian aid in Peru and Colombia.
In recognition of their efforts, Yaqoob and Gilberto were invited earlier this year to meet Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, His Majesty King Hamad’s Representative for Humanitarian Work and Youth Affairs, National Security Adviser and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports Affairs (SCYS) chairman.
Yaqoob and Gilberto are now in the process of setting up an official foundation to collect funds and channel them to those in need across South America. Yaqoob also hopes to be part of the diplomatic mission between his homeland and the land that has adopted him.
For updates and more of Yaqoob’s adventures, follow @yaqoob_mubarak87 on Instagram.