For immediate release
Sharjah, November 2015
Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children has launched a new health project aimed at restoring vision for 5,000 Palestinian children suffering from eye problems through The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF).
TBHF is dedicated to helping refugee children and the needy around the world. It transformed from a campaign to a global organization earlier this year in order to reach the largest number of refugees and people in need around the world. The new project is aimed at visually impaired children and youth, and people with various visual problems in different areas of Palestine.
It is being implemented by the Big Heart Foundation in cooperation with the St. John Eye Hospital Group in Jerusalem, the only charity that provides eye care services in occupied Palestine. It aims to provide free health services and treatment to about 5,000 Palestinian children suffering from various eye diseases in the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as perform 300 surgeries for children whose cases require surgical intervention.
The project has an estimated cost of half a million dollars and will run until 30 September 2016 with the TBHF covering all costs of treatment for children being treated at St. John Eye Hospital Group facilities located in these areas. The project will also give special attention to children living in remote and marginalized Palestinian areas, by reaching out to them through the St. John Mobile Clinic.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar campaign, said, “With the launch of this health project we aim to alleviate the suffering of thousands of Palestinian children who have been deprived of the ability to see the world. There is nothing more heartwarming than to see a child who has suffered from vision problems regain ability to see and discover the beauty of life. We put the children of Palestine at the forefront of our concerns, through the health, education and relief projects, as well as through campaigns we do in support of the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.”
Al Hammadi noted that the percentage of visually impaired people in the Palestinian territories is ten times higher compared to developed countries. Around 30% of the population under the age of 10 years old in these areas is susceptible to various eye diseases such as strabismus, eye pressure, blurred vision, and trauma.
Al Hammadi said, “This is what prompted The Big Heart Foundation to intervene, in order to help these children and provide free medical services including surgical intervention. Our project stems from our faith in their inherent right to health care, especially since we live in a world that has advanced medical means. We believe that children who come from limited-income families are entitled to access to healthcare, fair treatment and aid, which would improve their lives and help build a better future for them.”
The project is accompanied by a series of awareness campaigns, during which educational bulletins, publications and leaflets containing information and guidelines about prevention of eye disease will be distributed in order to enhance awareness about eye conditions and preventative measures to help lower the rates of eyesight loss in the Palestinian territories.
Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi officially launched The Big Heart Foundation in June to coincide with World Refugee Day, after the transformation of he Big Heart campaign into a global humanitarian organization, aimed at doubling efforts to provide support and assistance to refugees and the needy in various parts of the world. This move endorses the UAE’s commitment towards humanitarian contributions and initiatives, and enhanced its reputation regionally and globally.