In line with its mandate to safeguard and empower marginalized populations in vulnerable situations around the world, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), an UAE-based global humanitarian organization, has provided support worth more than AED 31 million through 28 multi-sectoral projects during 2021 which have touched the lives of more than 590,000 people across 12 countries impacted by conflict, natural disasters as well as the ongoing global health crisis.
By supporting 5 vital sectors such as education, healthcare, humanitarian aid and emergency relief as well as protection and livelihood, TBHF’s international philanthropic response has helped rehabilitate underprivileged people who have been forcibly displaced due to conflicts, social ills, and/or natural disasters, in their respective countries, under the directives 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 The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The country-wise break-up of TBHF’s funding for projects in 2021 is: Lebanon, AED 12,159,211, Palestine, AED 9,195,000; Egypt, AED 2,603,079; Jordan, AED 2,221,512; Mauritania, AED 1,839,000; UAE, AED 1,346,940; Iraq, AED 701,700; Bangladesh, AED 372,122; Kenya, AED 367,800; Turkey, AED 183,900; Somaliland, AED 150,000; and Sudan, AED 150,000.
Sustainable development projects
A series of development projects implemented by TBHF in 2021 are helping bridge gaps in five vital sectors and fulfilling the urgent needs of communities in the target countries, which brought fundamental change in the lives of refugees and displaced. Most notable projects include:
Humanitarian aid and emergency relief
From providing emergency medical services to those injured in conflict zones and assisting with surgical and mental health support to providing protective winter clothing, safe and nutritious food, repair of homes using durable treated bamboo, and supply of food parcels and hygiene kits, TBHF funded AED 5,153,856 to meet the humanitarian aid and emergency relief of 8,506 beneficiaries across six countries.
Its various partners included UNHCR in Lebanon and Bangladesh, Penny Appeal in Jordan and Iraq, MSF and Welfare Association in Palestine, and MEK in Egypt.
In 2021, TBHF’s funding of AED 10,218,176 provided timely and essential health services to more than 525,500 individuals in five countries. These services ranged from the purchase and equipping of a full-fledged mobile clinic in Sudan, Iraq and Somaliland, to the provision of urgent out-of-stock cancer medications in Lebanon. In Gaza, Palestine, TBHF steered efforts in combating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic by establishing a computerised information system in three primary health centres and the installation of an oxygen generator and solar energy system at a health organisation.
CCCL, WHO, Aster Clinic, and Welfare Association partnered with TBHF to fulfil the medical needs of communities in these countries.
Five countries – Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Egypt and the UAE received AED 7,826,631 to develop a reading culture and foster a love of books and learning under TBHF’s goal of empowering 14,180 young generations through education, including those impacted by the disruption of formal and non-formal education during the pandemic.
TBHF’s partners in improving both the school learning environment and outcomes in these countries included We Love Reading, Refushe, UNICEF, MEK, and Rawafed Development and Learning Center.
Through TBHF’s AED 4,045,800 for provision of specialised protection interventions of 40,100 beneficiaries in Lebanon, Turkey and Mauritania, conflict impacted children and adults with specific needs received significant physical and mental health support, leading to positive outcomes on the wellbeing of the beneficiaries.
TBHF partnered with INARA and UNHCR for these projects.
TBHF’s approach to improving the livelihoods of vulnerable communities led to the funding of AED 4,005,800 to develop five projects in three countries in partnership with two major partners benefiting 2,260 lives.
In collaboration with The Lotus Flower in Iraq, TBHF economically empowered almost 2,000 women with financial support and business mentorship.
TBHF’s interventions in Lebanon with UNDP enabled 90 youth led businesses gain access to a local helpdesk and online platform for general guidance and training. It provided specialized technical support with coaching and mentoring for 15 youth while also incubating viable, innovative, and sustainable development initiatives of up to 20 youth.
In Palestine, in collaboration with UNDP, TBHF promoted sustainable livelihoods through youth entrepreneurship programmes for 15 scalable youth ventures in high growth sectors while 50 MSMEs were provided access to helpdesk services.
UNHCR reappoints Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher as Eminent Advocate
UNHCR honoured Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi’s humanitarian leadership in an officiating ceremony held in August 2021 and reappointed Her Highness as an Eminent Advocate. The UN body lauded Sheikha Jawaher’s accomplishments in advancing the standards of global humanitarian action, advocating for the rights of the displaced, and ensuring the successful implementation of both vital emergency relief and long-term sustainable projects.
Let’s Lessen the Gap
In April, TBHF has made an impassioned call to citizens around the world to generously support its 2021 Zakat and general donations drive during Ramadan under the “Let’s Lessen the Gap” campaign, which is part of a comprehensive long-term programme TBHF had launched in partnership with four leading UN agencies, namely, UNHCR, UNDP, WHO and UNICEF, to address humanitarian development challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic amongst vulnerable populations in the MENA region.
SIARA 2021 recognizes Kenyan NGO’s impact on refugee children, girls and women
TBHF, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), organized the fifth edition of the annual Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), which embodies the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, to recognize key humanitarian contributions in refugee advocacy, support, and community building.
TBHF honoured Nairobi-based humanitarian agency, RefuSHE, which addresses the significant, unmet need for child and girl-focused refugee services in Kenya, with the AED 500,000 SIARA 2021 award.
An additional AED 1.1 million grant was awarded to three non-profit organizations in collaboration with NAMA Women Advancement to salute and honour the outstanding efforts of International Network for Aid Relief and Assistance (INARA), which works for forcibly displaced children and youth in Lebanon and Turkey, the Lotus Flower, which economically empowers vulnerable women and girls through innovative projects, and RefuSHE
Sharjah Government Communication Awards
In the eighth edition of the Sharjah Government Communication Awards, TBHF was honoured as the winner in the Best Crisis Response category for its ‘Salam Beirut’ initiative, announced shortly after the tragic explosion in the Lebanese capital, which sought to deploy effective emergency relief measures and offer support for those impacted by the tragedy in collaboration with a network of regional and international partners.
Agility in crisis management
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “In 2021, TBHF continued its humanitarian journey under the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to help alleviate the hardships and suffering of vulnerable and displaced populations around the world. The Foundation enriched its projects and programmes, and its partner networks locally and around the world, with a focus on long-term sustainable projects in vital sectors including healthcare, education, vocational empowerment. These projects also enabled marginalised populations integrate in host communities and paved the way for building self-sufficient communities in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
THE TBHF Director added: “In 2021, TBHF responded swiftly to addressing challenges impacting vulnerable communities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation demonstrated its agility and capabilities in extending help and reaching out to the increased number of unemployed and poor and all those affected by natural disasters or conflicts. In response to ongoing crisis and disasters and under the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, TBHF aims to expand on its sustainable projects in 2022 to stand by and support communities in need.”