NAT The Big Heart Foundation PAK-1603797438276
TBHF chairperson Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi interacting with students during her visit to Pakistan in February this year. Image Credit:

Sharjah: Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) is implementing five humanitarian projects in Pakistan worth $1 million (Dh3.67 million).

It follows February’s visit to Pakistan by TBHF chairperson Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

New school

TBHF has allocated $580,000 (around Dh2.13 million) for the construction of an SOS Girls and Boys High School in Rawalakot, in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan. The project seeks to bring high-quality education to children who are under the direct care of SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan, as well as underprivileged children in the wider community. Launched in September, the school is expected to be fully established by July 2022. A plaque to acknowledge the support of TBHF for the welfare of children will be affixed on the school grounds.

English and computer labs

In August, TBHF, in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan, launched a project to establish specialised computer training and English language labs in Sargodha, Sialkot and Muzaffarabad. Targeting 450 children and youth, the $80,584 (around Dh296,000) project aims to support the youth in the care of SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan by equipping them with the necessary skills to secure jobs and fully integrate them into their communities as they reach adulthood.

Campus project

In June, TBHF mobilised funding of $170,162 (around Dh623,000) for the construction of a primary school project in Lakhi Ghulam Shah, Shikarpur, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, in partnership with The Citizens Foundation (TCF). The TCF-Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi Campus project, named in memory of the Sharjah Ruler’s son, aims to provide high-quality formal education to 180 marginalised children per year, with a particular focus on girls’ education. When complete, the school will employ nine female faculty members and five support staff, of which two will be women.

TBHF estimates that the indirect beneficiaries from this project would number around 1,260 per year, which aligns with the vision of Pakistani educational laws stipulating the provision of free and compulsory education for children in the five to 16 age group, and the allocation of 10 per cent of seats in schools and private educational institutes for poor children. In addition, TBHF has pledged monetary support to cover the running costs of the TCF-Shaikh Khalid Al Qasimi School for a period of five years on completion of the project.

Women’s skills development

To support 1,500 Afghani refugee women as well as marginalised local women in Pakistan acquire advanced vocational and technical skills to improve their employability, TBHF, in cooperation with UNHCR, launched a project targeting the upgradation of equipment at the Women Welfare Development Centre in Islamabad and three similar community development centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The $200,045 (around Dh734,000) project, scheduled for completion in December 2021, will provide equipment for industrial tailoring, advanced beauty-therapy, and information technology, helping these women acquire advanced level vocational and technical skills in the crafts of dressmaking, tailoring, and jewellery design, in addition to receiving training in beautician and computer courses. Ultimately, the project seeks to build trainees’ self-reliance by improving their access to suitable livelihood development opportunities.

Community centre

To promote the participation of refugees in communities, TBHF has pledged $61,131 (around Dh224,000) for a new community centre project in Haripur in cooperation with UNHCR. Scheduled to be completed at the end of 2021, ‘The Big Heart Foundation’ community centre will place special emphasis on the training of more than 1,500 Afghan refugees including youth, women, and adolescent girls in literacy courses, tailoring, business skills, as well as entrepreneurial and financial management skills to improve their livelihoods and make them economically independent.

In addition to empowering the refugee community with vocational skills including tailoring and embroidery, as well as mobile phone and computer repair, the centre will also raise community awareness on the risks associated with child marriage and child labour. An additional 1,000 Afghan refugees including men, women, girls and boys, and those with special needs will also receive direct or indirect benefits from the training sessions and outreach activities organised by the centre.

Global efforts

TBHF director Mariam Al Hammadi said: “TBHF recognises the importance of skilled human resources to build a strong, sustainable economy, and is committed to fulfilling its humanitarian responsibilities towards refugees and those in need around the world. We view our role as an integral part of the global community’s efforts to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals through our focus on sustainable projects in education and community empowerment sectors.”