- Mobilizes AED 32.3 million through 16 humanitarian projects to ensure a better future for the displaced and other vulnerable communities in Asia, Middle East and Africa
- TBHF intensifies its outreach into the African continent, covering three new countries of Kenya, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo
- TBHF’s strategic shift to supporting long-term development projects in healthcare, education and livelihood sectors
- Partners with World Food Programme to deliver emergency relief worth AED 367,320 to 4,291 Mozambicans in the aftermath of cyclone Idai
As early as January 2019, an unprecedented 70.8 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide. Against the backdrop of these overwhelming numbers, the Sharjah-based global humanitarian organization, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), continued to intensify its philanthropic efforts in 2019 in the vital sectors of emergency relief, healthcare, education and livelihood with the strategic inclusion of long-term community development projects on their global humanitarian agenda.
TBHF wrapped up 2019 registering 146,771 beneficiaries in 11 nations, namely, India, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. The Foundation mobilized funds worth AED 32,312,553 to support 16 humanitarian projects implemented by partnering organizations representing both local entities in beneficiary nations as well as international agencies.
Transition from relief to development
“The shocking statistics revealed by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was further a confirmation to us that we needed to redouble efforts to identify specific challenges faced not only by the communities affected, but by local and international agencies bringing aid to them, in order to customize our humanitarian response to ensure best possible outcomes,” said Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF.
Doing so, she added, necessitated a paradigm shift in their humanitarian outlook since 2018. “Inspired by the vision and determination of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, to lead humanitarian interventions in a way that have sustainable impact, TBHF continued to initiate and partner on projects focused on long-term results; a new area of focus for us in the past couple of years.”
“The transition from relief to development is critical, because only long-term rehabilitation strategies, which are inclusive of education, psychological support, skills training, sustainable livelihood opportunities, can bring about real positive change in terms of bringing victims of crises back into the folds of society as essential contributors to community building and overall development,” Al Hammadi further added.
Healthcare and education on top of TBHF’s humanitarian agenda
In 2019, TBHF led 16 important projects in 11 nations in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Healthcare and education sectors were the Foundation’s key focus last year, followed by livelihood generation projects and emergency relief operations.
TBHF allocated a significant share of its 2019 funding to support and rehabilitate the healthcare sector in beneficiary nations. In July 2019, AED 200,000 from TBHF’s Zakat collections was pledged to the Child and Mother Welfare Society in Lebanon to renovate its post-partum, post-surgery and medicine hospital for 500 beneficiaries.
In March, TBHF pledged AED 734,560 from its Ameera Fund to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the implementation of the 2017 WHA cancer resolution across 20 nations in the MENA region, which seeks to strengthen the data collection process on cancer stages to be able to monitor cancer control efforts more effectively and strengthen the ability of civil society organizations to advocate for cancer treatment and care.
TBHF’s successful year in improving the healthcare infrastructure for vulnerable communities worldwide ended with a big announcement of the allocation of AED 3,615,576 via its Refugee & Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Fund, to build a fully-equipped health centre in collaboration with Save the Children in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The project has been initiated, and upon expected completion in mid-2021, will serve 4,000 children under the age of 5, and 2,600 women, annually, across four of the most deprived health zones of DRC’s Kasai Oriental province.
About the overarching aim of TBHF’s involvement in furthering healthcare, Al Hammadi says, “Healthcare is a basic human necessity, it is a human right, which TBHF is committed to ensuring by offering longer-term intervention and support our beneficiaries, as well as contributes to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, where Good Health And Well-Being are goal #3.”
Education was another strong area of emphasis for TBHF in 2019 and reflects on Sharjah’s overarching mission to establish access to quality education as a cornerstone of socioeconomic development. The Foundation dedicated AED 16,121,790 across eight education projects in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and Siwa. In January, TBHF collaborated with SOS Children Village’s International to improve educational access of 8,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq’s Dohuk governorate, mobilizing AED 367,265 allocation from their Refugee & IDP Fund.
TBHF collaborated with two Sharjah-based initiatives that promote reading and learning, Kalimat Foundation for Children’s Empowerment (Kalimat Foundation) and Knowledge without Borders (KwB), pledging 12 libraries worth AED 50,000 to Amel Association International’s community centres across Lebanon. The initiative improved access of 500 people to books.
In Syria, TBHF collaborated with UNHCR to rehabilitate eight schools as part of a Zakat initiative in June, mobilizing AED 1,807,899 of its Refugee & IDP Fund, targeting 6,000 beneficiaries. Moving on to Egypt, the Foundation rolled out the ‘Thuraya Box Project’ in collaboration with Masr AlKhair & Rawafed Development & Learning Center. AED 215,256 from the MENA Fund was allocated to this yearlong project initiated in June 2019, and supported 5,000 beneficiaries including young students who improved learning of Arabic and mathematics, and offered specialized training to teachers to help them improve their teaching skills and practices. AED 207,241 from TBHF’s Refugee & IDP Fund was allocated to a UNHCR project in Kenya, which to support early childhood and primary education for 2,100 refugee learners in Nairobi by providing them with desks, uniforms, and school meals.
Following its recognition of the pressing need for improving children’s access to education in Pakistan, where 22.5 million out of 50 million children are out of school, TBHF pledged an AED 1,000,000 grant to its local implementing partner, The Citizen Foundation, to enable 324 children from low income families living in urban slums of Khuda Ki Basti and Karachi, receive good quality and affordable education.
TBHF’s humanitarianism also reached the Siwa community in ………, which despite having an abundance of natural and cultural wealth, lacks a strong educational infrastructure, particularly vocational teenagers and young adults. Under its Siwa Oasis Specialized Education Initiative, TBHF mobilized AED 550,934 to enable its implementing partner, Environmental Quality International, establish an education centre for boys and girls, which would also offer vocational training programmes targeting skills development in a variety of fields as well as specialized programmes for adults, who will also be offered the opportunity to be employed at the centre after completing their training.
Strengthening livelihood opportunities in the Middle East
TBHF pledged its support to vital livelihood projects in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, allocating AED 6,975,388 to increase employability of 6,236 individuals. The Foundation supported two projects in Lebanon, one of which was a second-time collaboration with the Al Amal Institute for the Disabled that engaged 540 residents in Al Amal’s sweater factory to produce sweaters for the people in need.
In Iraq, TBHF teamed up with UNHCR and mobilized its Refugee & IDP Fund to provide cash assistance of AED 99,394 to 22 vulnerable internally displaced families comprising 150 individuals. In Jordan, TBHF’s refugee fund was utilized to support UNHCR’s activities in Al Zataari camp’s community centre to improve 546 refugees’ access to recreational and educational classes.
More support to Africa
The Foundation intensified its outreach into the African continent countries in 2019, bringing countries of Kenya, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under its humanitarian scope for the first time. In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai dubbed ‘one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa’, TBHF pledged AED 367,250 to the World Food Programme (WFP), which helped deliver emergency food assistance to 14,000 people for a whole month in Mozambique, which was the worst hit.
Al Hammadi highlighted that TBHF’s humanitarian work is part of the global efforts aimed at combating poverty and its negative social and cultural consequences, in addition to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) of United Nations. She noted that the Foundation is working towards designing a strong and effective humanitarian agenda for 2020, with projects targeting emergency relief, livelihood and education sectors.”
TBHF was officially established in 2015 following a range of humanitarian initiatives and campaigns launched since 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of TBHF, to redouble efforts to help refugees and people in need worldwide. Since its establishment, TBHF has added significantly to the UAE’s rich portfolio and long record of humanitarian initiatives implemented regionally and globally. The organization continues its humanitarian efforts, having delivered emergency aid to more than 20 nations worldwide facing crises, along with supporting long-term and sustainable projects in healthcare, education and other vital sectors.