The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, has facilitated the participation of 23 young members from Sharjah’s youth organisations at its first volunteering visit this year to the Refugee Complex in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
The young delegation also visited the headquarters of the Malaysian NGO dedicated to children’s education and training, Dignity for Children, which won the 2018 edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA).
The visit is in line with TBHF’s strategy to engage local community, especially children and young adults, in humanitarian activities. The young delegation included FUNN – Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children, Sharjah Girl Guide (SGG), Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Sharjah Youth, the Sharjah Police Youth Council, and Victoria International School.
The volunteers led several interactive workshops and skill-enhancement activities for urban poor children and young refugees, focused on harnessing skills that can be used professionally. These included a photography workshop, which familiarised participants with camera techniques and specific shooting skills. The aim of the workshop was to train these children in a way that would help their careers as well as enable them to transfer their knowledge to peers and juniors interested in photography.
At the ‘How to Make a Robot’ workshop, Sharjah’s young volunteers introduced participants to the basics of robotics design and construction, presenting live and working models to ignite innovative thinking and inspire them to create useful machines.
Another session called ‘Self-defence Martial Arts’ saw specialised volunteers training a group of young men and women on self-defence techniques. The session also highlighted the positive impact of sports and other physical activities on individual behaviour and self-confidence.
Crafts-making workshops were also conducted during which refugee trainees were taught the art of weaving, how to design and make handbags, dolls, knotted rope bracelets, and more.
The importance of training oneself in creative vocational skills to enhance future opportunities for employment, as well as how these skills can help meet society’s needs to boost sustainable development were highlighted at these workshops.
Other creative activities organised included graffiti painting on walls and storytelling sessions for children. Sharjah’s youth delegation also assisted teachers during their classroom sessions.
They also participated in a food distribution activity at a refugee complex for Rohingyas in Kuala Lumpur, and gained a deeper insight into the many challenges and difficulties faced by them. According to UN’s records, Malaysia is now home to 81,000 Rohingya refugees.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “ Helping relieve the sufferings of refugees and those in need worldwide is an essential part of our human duty – an act that takes several forms at TBHF. Our duties begin with fulfilling their basic needs to guarantee the simplest human rights, to other more strategic efforts aimed at enabling this community to overcome pressing challenges with the least possible psychological damage.”
She added: “We have brought the UAE’s young men and women to this one-of-its-kind volunteering trip dedicated to the refugees and vulnerable communities in Malaysian society as promoting a culture of community service and volunteerism in youth is essential to TBHF philosophy and our efforts. We are committed to raising capable generations of young Emiratis who will carry the UAE’s approach towards helping and supporting those in need on their shoulders, and also pass it down to the new generations.”
Al Hammadi noted that the visit was equally beneficial to the volunteers as it was to the Malaysian people targeted on this trip. “Despite forced displacement from their homes, witnessing loss of life on a regular basis including losing family members, and not being able to live a life of dignity they so deserve, everyone we have met are full of hope for a better future. Having a triumphant spirit amid crises is triumph itself, and this was a big lesson for the young volunteers,” she emphasised.
In the past years, TBHF has organised several volunteering visits facilitating the participation of a number of government organisations and private companies, businessmen and journalists to nations that host refugees and underprivileged people with a view to mobilising community support and financial resources for them.