Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and the Humanitarian Envoy of The Big Heart Foundation, places the final stone in the last shelter to signal the completion of the first phase of the ‘Home for a Home’ project Image Credit: Supplied

Kenya: Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and the Humanitarian Envoy of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), recently inaugurated the ‘Home for a Home’ project in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Settlement.

The ‘Shelter & WASH’ project is a collaboration between Arada Developments, TBHF, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The project follows the humanitarian principle of building one permanent shelter for a refugee family in Kenya’s Kalobeyei settlement for every home sold in Arada’s Masaar master community in Sharjah.

It aims to provide safe housing, sanitation and clean water supply to over 55,000 individuals in the settlement and surrounding host community adjacent to a Kakuma camp.

The Kakuma camp was established by UNHCR and is funded by TBHF.

During the inauguration, the Deputy Ruler of Sharjah placed the final stone in the last shelter to signal the completion of the first phase of the ‘Home for a Home’ project.

The project comprises 176 permanent shelters, each one with a latrine and sanitation facilities. The TBHF Humanitarian Envoy also inspected the progress made by the project’s second cohort, which entails the construction of 231 shelters.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed also visited the medical clinic in the Kakuma camp to receive on-ground updates on the work done at the clinic to fill the gap in quality healthcare provision to refugees, women and children.

During the visit, he emphasised the importance of humanitarian projects that have a sustainable impact on refugees and displaced persons in the region and around the world.

Sustainable infrastructure

Announced in March 2022, the project’s shelter interventions will accommodate 240 households with a total of 2,035 individuals from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda.

The project features the development of a sustainable water supply system that supports more than 43,000 refugees and 10,000 host community members.

The system provides 20 litres of water to each individual every day, and 100,000 litres to both refugees and host communities living in the surrounding area, to ensure that hygiene and healthy living standards are maintained.

Sheikh Sultan and the visiting delegates followed up on the progress and humanitarian impact of other TBHF projects in Kenya by holding a meeting with the Kakuma camp management, gaining insights into the welfare procedures and development policies implemented there. They met with UNHCR representatives as well to learn more about the current and emerging needs of refugees.

Refugees at heart of charity

Sheikh Sultan stressed that TBHF’s humanitarian efforts are firmly rooted in the cultural values of the UAE and of Sharjah, who have always been committed to supporting refugees and displaced persons by extending a helping hand to them. He highlighted that Sharjah brought disadvantaged communities closer to every member of Emirati society, and motivated us all to step forward and help those facing challenges.

This is done in line with the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives and support of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation, and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.

Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed said: “Sharjah places refugees and displaced persons at the forefront of its humanitarian priorities. Our goal is not only to achieve short-term humanitarian results via emergency aid disbursements, but also help build a hope-filled future for marginalised communities by providing them with necessary tools to overcome the challenges they face and by creating new opportunities to build a stable and secure life for themselves.”

“With every project we undertake, we aim to transform humanitarian work into collective duties performed by the community - both individuals and entities - in the region and beyond out of sincere human concern”, added the Deputy Ruler.

Why permanent homes

“For decades, refugees from different countries arrive in camps where they end up spending years. This makes permanent housing for these displaced peoples an equally necessary requirement, which must be met alongside other emergency or short-term needs.

“TBHF, therefore, has, over the years, undertaken development projects in health, education, housing and vocational training to address these sustainability needs. And here, we witness first-hand the positive impact of these projects in raising the living standard and overall quality of life of each project’s beneficiaries as they continue being surrounded by the uncertainties of displacement.

“It has been truly inspiring to hear the success stories of refugees and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) s who have improved their present lives and hope for a better future after taking up the opportunities in education and employment created by TBHF’s initiatives,” he added.

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22,000 healthcare beneficiaries

The delegates visited the medical clinic which was launched by the UNHCR and received TBHF’s US$ 266,250 fund for a year to provide basic healthcare services to an estimated number of 22,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the catchment area in Kakuma 1 camp, Turkana County, Kenya.

The delegates followed up on the clinic’s facilities and medical team. TBHF’s funding covered the cost of administering mandatory immunisations including measles, polio, antenatal tetanus to children under 5, including new arrivals in the camp through Nadapal.

It also catered to the clinic running costs including provision of equipment, procurement of supplies, and funding the various community awareness and health education activities, boosting the clinic’s capacity to offer children and their parents access to primary and secondary health services, and 20 community health workers.

Empowering 300 Kenyan women

The delegates also visited the Women Empowerment centre, launched by TBHF and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) in collaboration with the Nanyuki Spinners and Weavers, to empower 300 Kenyan women economically and vocationally.

The project involves spinning, knitting and weaving skill development programmes. The project, which will be complete and inaugurated officially in Q2, 2023, includes building a centre for the programme and covering all expenses of materials and meals provided to women during the training period. It also supports the education of orphan children by providing their tuition fees.

Sheikh Sultan met a host of the participants and gained insights into the skills they acquired from the training programmes, and followed up on the project’s operational phases and products.

614 girls, women supported

The visit included a meeting with the management of RefuShe, winner of the 2021 edition of the Sharjah International Refugee Advocacy and Support Award (SIARA).

The Kenyan non-profit organisation was honoured by the prestigious international award in recognition of its unique and inspiring interdisciplinary model to empower female victims of conflict including refugee children, girls and women. It provides them safety as well as literacy, numeracy and vocational skills through specialised programmes.

Sheikh Sultan was apprised of RefuShe’s achievements since the non-profit won SIARA. A total of 614 girls and women were benefited, including 365 girls who were offered literacy, numeracy and other academic skills. Additionally, vocational and life skill training workshops were delivered to 184 girls and 22 artisans. SIARA’s cash prize also enabled 82 RefuShe beneficiaries to receive professional social and psychological support.

High-profile delegation

The visiting delegates included Hassan Yacoub Al Mansoori, director of the Office of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi; Mariam Al Hammadi, TBHF director; Rashid Abdullah Al Obeid, director of Sharjah Broadcasting Authority; Adel Abdulla Mohamed, board member and Group CEO Air Arabia; Ali Mohammed Al Khayyal, vice president of the Board of Trustees of Sharjah Charity House; Saeed Ghanim Al Suwaidi, CEO Al Ghanem Investments and Developments and Abdelghani Hassan Mohamed, director, IFFCO Group Corporate Affairs and Business Development.