TBHF responds to unprecedented humanitarian challenges in 2020  with 39 projects that touch over 803,000 lives in 15 countries

The Big Heart Foundation infused AED 39 million in projects that impacted 7 vital sectors

  • Mariam Al Hamadi: The Foundation continues to boost its readiness to fulfill its duties in overcoming humanitarian challenges being encountered globally.
  • TBHF’s projects focused on healthcare, education, infrastructure, offering protection, improving livelihoods and fulfilling basic needs, in addition to emergency aid and relief.
  • SIARA 2020 honoured unique humanitarian interventions geared towards advancing psychosocial wellbeing of refugees.

In a tumultuous year marked by economic and social upheavals worldwide as nations battled the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and compounded by tragic disasters such as the Beirut port blasts and several 6natural calamities including devastating floods in Sudan, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organization, rose to the forefront of spearheading an international philanthropic response as it funded 39 projects in key vital sectors, totalling AED 38,979,601 (US 10,598,043).

Signalling an increase of 23 projects from the previous year, TBHF’s 2020 annual report states that these collaborative partnerships have also impacted 803,175 beneficiaries in 15 countries – up by 656,404 beneficiaries across 11 countries in 2019. Amid a surging pandemic, many of TBHF’s humanitarian projects in 2020 focused on boosting healthcare capacities and sanitation facilities in refugee and internally displaced people sites around the world, while also prioritising education, infrastructural facilities, living conditions, and ensuring necessities, as well as providing emergency aid and relief operations.

Emergency aid, healthcare, infrastructure, education, among 7 key areas of TBHF’s work in 2020

According to the 2020 annual report, TBHF funded 12 healthcare projects worth AED 19,486,327 that benefitted 714,258 individuals and eight projects in the education sector that impacted 66,657 beneficiaries at a cost of AED 4,727,341. It launched four infrastructure projects worth AED 7,442,013 targeting 3,340 people; eight projects to improve livelihood of 5,710 individuals at a cost of AED 3,908,886; and three projects in the protection sector worth AED 1,470,968 to benefit 912 children, refugees, and displaced people.

In addition, the Sharjah-based foundation provided emergency relief to 10,798 beneficiaries through three projects valued at AED 1,643,658, and launched an AED 300,408-project to provide for the basic needs of 1,500 individuals.

2020 confirmed that readiness of humanitarian entities in tackling unprecedented crisis is critical

In a statement, Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said that the extraordinary events of 2020 are a reminder for humanitarian organizations to adopt an emergency response preparedness approach to deliver critical assistance swiftly and efficiently in cooperation and coordination with relevant entities working to achieve to the same goals.

She pointed out that under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of TBHF, and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, the Foundation continues to boost its readiness to fulfill its duties in overcoming humanitarian challenges being encountered globally, and focused attention on sustainable projects designed to benefit the most vulnerable populations including children, refugees and displaced persons, who have been disproportionately impacted by the events of 2020.

Al Hammadi further emphasized that TBHF’s achievements and preparedness in responding to the needs of the vulnerable and marginalized populations stemmed from its approach of partnering and collaborating with local and international entities. She also hailed the benevolent spirit of individuals worldwide, particularly that of the Emirati community, who have imbibed the UAE’s philanthropic practice of safeguarding the rights and improving the lives of those in need.

‘Salam Beirut’ aids Lebanon explosion victims

In August 2020, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher launched an international emergency aid campaign titled ‘Salam Beirut’ to support the victims of the devastating explosions that struck Port Beirut. Mobilized in cooperation with on-ground local partners, the humanitarian initiative focused on providing medical aid, food and water supplies as well as shelter to victims, in addition to vital services like healthcare and sanitation.

Since its launch last year, the campaign received an amount of AED 33 million in donations. From this, a sum of AED 13.7 million has been utilized for relief work carried out in 2020 including the restoration of 485 homes; reconstruction of the emergency and trauma (ERT) unit of the Saint George Hospital University Medical Centre; rehabilitation of migrant workers who lost their homes and sources of livelihood; and the provision of support and psychological care for 630 boys and girls and reuniting them with their families. The remaining AED 19.3 million will be utilized for the second phase of projects to be implemented in Lebanon in 2021.

Throughout 2020, TBHF funded humanitarian interventions in Lebanon across several vital sectors worth AED 16.5 million, including AED 2.8 million for various projects that were funded before the Port Beirut blasts.

‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher launched a fundraising campaign titled ‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’ last April to boost healthcare capacities in sites hosting refugee and internally displaced people in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Bangladesh, and Kenya. With coordinated support from its key partners in these nations, TBHF mobilized resources and prioritized activities to support programmes in health, educational awareness, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Each organization received a sum of US$100,000 to address the most pressing protection, lifesaving and integration needs of refugees and displaced populations across these five countries.

Under the campaign, TBHF also provided food supplies to families and individuals in the UAE who were affected directly or indirectly by the spread of COVID-19. Till date, TBHF has provided food supplies to 660 families and 1,400 individuals in the UAE.

AED 14.6 million to build and fully equip a PICU in Cairo, Egypt

Amongst the 12 healthcare projects unveiled by TBHF last year included one in Egypt where the entity supported the advancement of healthcare services specifically for children, by allocating AED 14.6 million to build and fully-equip a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the upcoming Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Cairo. The funding will also enable the charitable children’s hospital to acquire a fleet of well-equipped ambulances. The PICU will be named in memory of the late Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, son of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah. It is slated for completion in 2023 and will cater to 2,000 children annually.

Support for Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Pakistan

Another healthcare project undertaken last year included an AED 4.4 million programme to equip two operating theatres with state-of-the-art medical equipment to facilitate surgical oncology services at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Peshawar, Pakistan. The project will benefit around 2,500 cancer patients, providing them access to a wide range of high-quality surgical treatments.

The allocated sum was sourced from the Ameera Fund, a global fund run collaboratively by the Sharjah-based Friends of Cancer Patients and TBHF, under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher.

Sustainable village in Niger

In line with its strategy to create a sustainable impact on communities via long-term development projects, TBHF implemented several livelihood projects in 2020 including a partnership project with Sharjah Charity House to develop an AED 2,007,559 sustainable village in Niger in West Africa.

Named after the late Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, son of the Ruler of Sharjah, the sustainable village – when completed in 2022, will comprise of 20 houses and will feature income-generation activities on the farmland through agriculture and livestock rearing. The funds will also support the construction of a school and fully equipped medical clinic and laboratory.

AED 3,672,960 million school for girls in Kenyan refugee camp

Several projects initiated by TBHF in 2020 sought to empower young girl refugees with quality education. One of these is the AED 3,672,960 million project to construct a girl’s boarding secondary school at the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement in the Republic of Kenya. The fully equipped boarding school, which is expected to be ready in time for the 2021 academic year, will benefit 360 students including refugees in the settlement as well as girls from the surrounding host community.

The school is expected to fulfil students’ needs to a large extent, while offering a safe environment for refugee and host community girls facing risks such as early or forced marriage and child labour, as well as unaccompanied minors, separated children and disabled girls.

Emergency relief for Sudan’s flood affected

Several emergency aid projects were implemented by TBHF last year as part of its sustainable humanitarian endeavours. In one such initiative, TBHF allocated AED 755,149 for two key projects implemented in Sudan to provide essential emergency assistance to thousands of internally displaced people whose homes were destroyed in the devastating floods of September 2020.

The funds were utilized for providing shelter and essential food packages to more than 8,000 people who had to flee their homes and served in building the capacity of the community and increasing their resilience to the disaster.

SIARA Award promotes wellbeing of refugees

The 2020 edition of Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA 2020) expanded in scope to include entities from across the entire African continent.

In a virtual ceremony, Tumaini Letu, a non-profit organisation based at the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, Africa, and founded by refugee poet and artist Trésor Nzengu Mpauni was announced as the winner of the AED 500,000 award for its flagship programme, the annual Tumaini Festival, an art and culture event that that helps promote the psychosocial wellbeing of its displaced populations through opportunities for creative expression and entertainment. SIARA 2020 received 242 nominations from 52 countries across Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Supporting the vulnerable across MENA, Eastern Europe, and South Asia  

Taking forward its empowering work to shape a more humane, just, and inclusive future for forcibly displaced and vulnerable populations worldwide, TBHF supported humanitarian projects in Kenya, Pakistan, and Jordan to advance healthcare, education, vocational training, and empowerment of women.

TBHF funded projects in Kenya to the tune of AED 5,270,949, and AED 551,700 in Jordan. It also allocated AED 8,435,934 for projects in Pakistan that included establishing computer and English language labs for elementary as well as high schools, and community development centres in partnership with local and international entities.

TBHF projects in other countries included Palestine (AED 1,301,732); Nigeria (AED 212,519); Ethiopia (AED 300,408); India (AED 256,853); Bangladesh (AED 367,800) Iraq (AED 36,449); and Bosnia (AED 218,973). A sum of AED 1,599,474 was allocated to support vulnerable families in the UAE.

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 UAE’s rich portfolio 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.