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Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi at a school funded by The Big Heart Foundaton. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Over 800,000 people from 15 countries have benefited from various humanitarian projects launched by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation, last year.

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 natural calamities including devastating floods in Sudan, TBHF rose to the occasion and funded 39 projects in key vital sectors, totalling Dh38,979,601.

According to TBHF’s 2020 annual report, the projects have positively impacted 803,175 beneficiaries in 15 countries — up by 656,404 beneficiaries across 11 countries in 2019. The projects focused on boosting health care 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.


TBHF funded 12 health care projects worth Dh19,486,327 that benefited 714,258 individuals and eight projects in the education sector that impacted 66,657 beneficiaries at a cost of Dh4,727,341. TBHF also launched four infrastructure projects worth Dh7,442,013 targeting 3,340 people; eight projects that improved livelihood of 5,710 individuals at a cost of Dh3,908,886; and three projects in the protection sector worth Dh1,470,968 that benefited 912 children, refugees, and displaced people.

The Sharjah-based foundation also provided emergency relief to 10,798 beneficiaries through three projects valued at Dh1,643,658, and launched a Dh300,408 project for basic needs of 1,500 individuals.

Sustainable projects

Mariam Al Hammadi

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “The extraordinary events of 2020 are a reminder for humanitarian organisations 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.”

Salam Beirut

In August 2020, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, launched an international emergency aid campaign titled ‘Salam Beirut’ to support the victims of the devastating explosions that struck the Beirut port. Mobilised 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 health care and sanitation. The campaign received Dh33 million in donations.

‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’

Sheikha Jawaher also launched a fund-raising campaign titled ‘Support Knows No Safe Distance’ last April to boost health care 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 mobilised resources and prioritised activities to support programmes in health, educational awareness, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Each organisation received a sum of $100,000 (Dh367,800).

Paediatric Intensive Care Unit Egypt

A total of Dh14.6 million was donated 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.

Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Pakistan

Another health care project undertaken last year included a Dh4.4 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.

Sustainable village in Niger

TBHF implemented several livelihood projects in 2020 including a partnership project with Sharjah Charity House to develop a Dh2,007,559 sustainable village in Niger in West Africa. Named after the late Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, 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.

Kenyan refugee camp

TBHF also launched a Dh3,672,960 million project to construct a girl’s boarding secondary school at the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement in 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.

Emergency relief for Sudan flood survivors

TBHF allocated Dh755,149 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.

SIARA Award promotes well-being 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 Dh500,000 award for its flagship programme, the annual Tumaini Festival, an art and culture event that helps promote the psychosocial well-being of its displaced populations.

MENA, Eastern Europe, and South Asia projects

TBHF supported humanitarian projects in Kenya, Pakistan, and Jordan to advance health care, education, vocational training, and empowerment of women.

TBHF funded projects in Kenya to the tune of Dh5,270,949, and Dh551,700 in Jordan. It also allocated Dh8,435,934 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 (Dh1,301,732); Nigeria (Dh212,519); Ethiopia (Dh300,408); India (Dh256,853); Bangladesh (Dh367,800) Iraq (Dh36,449); and Bosnia (Dh218,973). A sum of Dh1,599,474 was allocated to support vulnerable families in the UAE.