Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's global humanitarian initiatives
The following is an edited translation of an article from the WAM News Agency.
UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has continuously strived for excellence by launching humanitarian initiatives, both locally and internationally. These initiatives are aimed at helping and supporting the disadvantaged in their bid to overcome their problems and raise their standard of living.
Sheikh Mohammed's initiatives have earned a noble reputation regionally and globally, as they are directed at the poor; people deprived of basic human rights, the most important of which are education and healthcare, especially for children.
Dubai Cares and Noor Dubai are two of the most outstanding humanitarian campaigns to emerge from the UAE in recent times. The former is aimed at fighting poverty with education, particularly in developing countries, where illiteracy is very high. The latter targets the delivery of preventative eye care to over one million people in developing countries, as part of its drive to realise its goal of a world free from curable forms of blindness.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation has played a crucial role in meeting the needs of those affected by natural disasters and political upheaval, such as earthquakes, flooding and war. The foundation has dispatched millions of tons of humanitarian aid to disaster victims, including food, tents and blankets, to alleviate suffering in affected areas.
On September 14th, 2007, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Dubai Cares initiative. He encouraged UAE society to raise money to support the campaign goal of helping to educate one million children in the developing world by providing them with a suitable learning environment, where they could prosper and open the doors of opportunity in their societies.
During the first phase of the campaign, which lasted 8 weeks, numerous individuals, companies, social clubs and school children raised over Dh1.7 billion ($478 million) through their participation in various fund raising events.
At the Dubai Cares closing ceremony on November 25th, 2007, Sheikh Mohammed matched the donations collected, with a personal endowment of over Dh1.7 billion, to bring the total funds raised to around Dh3.5 billion ($1 billion). Shortly after, Dubai Cares announced that 12 countries would initially benefit from the programme through the financing of education projects in their respective countries.
The foundation prioritized financial endowment in its first stage, focusing on the most underdeveloped countries which could benefit from the campaign. These countries include Sudan, Yemen, Palestine, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Chad, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, the Maldives, Mauritania, Niger and Pakistan.
In these countries, campaign efforts are focused on implementing projects directly connected to the needs of children of primary school age. These projects take account of all practical and educational aspects. The plans include the building of new schools and the renovation of old ones; the provision of drinkable water and clean health facilities; providing for school and educational needs; and the implementation of training programmes and workshops to enhance teacher competence.
It is worth mentioning that Sheikh Mohammed has led the Dubai Cares campaign from the front, and dedicated his energy and abilities to promote the benefits of the campaign and its objectives. His sons and daughters have also played a strong role in advancing the campaign and supporting its objectives, through visiting the campaign's target countries to familiarise themselves with the challenges ahead.
On September 21st, 2007, His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum led a campaign to encourage the retail trade sector to support Dubai Cares and announced the backing of Dubai Shopping Malls group and Dubai Gold and Jewelry Group. He also ran a campaign to raise funds by distributing and selling memorabilia bearing the Dubai Cares name.
Dubai Deputy Ruler and Chairman of Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visited Bosnia & Herzegovina on September 21st, 2007, as part of the campaign to evaluate the basic educational needs and learn more about the challenges that students face in Bosnia.
The campaign has exceeded its primary objective of providing education to one million children in the developing world. To date, the number of children who have benefited from the campaign has surpassed four million and the foundation has built and renovated 2,072 schools. The foundation has also trained 22,370 teachers and helped establish 3,157 parent teacher associations.
Dubai Cares has also developed its urgent relief aid capability to respond to crises and save children's lives in times of war, conflict and catastrophe. Myanmar was a recent beneficiary of this aid when it was hit by hurricane Nargis. Ethiopia has also received urgent food aid to counteract the increasing food shortages there.
The role of the Dubai Cares is not just restricted to providing food and primary education for the poor. It also aims to establish integrated development programmes to promote healthcare, nutrition, training and building skills.
Sheikh Mohammed has also launched a volunteer campaign which focuses on the benefits of volunteering, in line with the charitable establishment's continuous commitment to philanthropic values.
One notable initiative to come from the volunteer campaign was the Million Books Challenge. This initiative challenged school children from the UAE, between the ages of 3 and 14, to read a million books over a two week period. For each book read, Dubai Cares offered to buy and donate a new book to underprivileged students through charitable organisations.
The challenge actually exceeded its initial targets, as Dubai Cares eventually distributed 1,323,218 books to needy children in developing countries, thanks to the efforts of over 140,000 students from schools in Ras Al Kheimah, Al Ain, Sharjah and Dubai.
Recognizing the success of the One Million Books challenge, Dubai Cares has decided to establish 1,000 public libraries in the world's poorest societies to reflect Dubai Cares' commitment to supporting education and fighting illiteracy.
To further boost programme implementation, Dubai Cares has established channels of cooperation with a number of international charity organisations such as Child Rescue International, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Care International and UNRWA.
Dubai Cares in partnership with the Child Rescue Foundation in the USA is currently implementing a number of projects to provide high quality primary education to children in Sudan. Dubai Cares has donated over Dh60 million to this project, which is one of the biggest humanitarian programmes operating in Sudan.
Dubai Cares has also unveiled its latest initiative, launched in collaboration with UNICEF, to support primary education programmes in Sudan, where 700,000 children are expected to benefit from over the next 10 years. This is not the first time Dubai Cares has worked with UNICEF, as the two parties announced a similar initiative last February in Djibouti.
Dubai Cares and UNICEF's efforts in Sudan include promoting education, building and renovating school premises, ensuring the availability of clean water for children and providing them with adequate healthcare facilities.
Dubai Cares, in cooperation with UNICEF, has also launched another initiative which aims to provide two million children with basic education in 1,900 schools in Yemen. Both parties have long-term commitments to cooperate and support efforts and initiatives which endeavour to educate girls in rural Yemen. They seek to achieve this by proposing specialist policies and direct international interaction with local decision makers. A system will be set up to monitor progress achieved in the targeted schools and define the needs and efforts required move forward.
The programme will run training courses and workshops designed to enhance teacher competence and it is projected that around 400 teachers will benefit from the initiative. Furthermore, books will be distributed to students between the ages of 6 and 14 throughout Yemen.
The campaign was also successful in returning 9,000 Palestinians in Al Bared river camp in Lebanon back to school, thanks to financial donations given by Dubai Cares amounting to $1,277,000.
Following hurricane Nargis in Myanmar, Dubai Cares sent a humanitarian team to deliver more than 60 tons of aid to bring relief to the hurricane's victims. The storm, which hit coastal villages and towns, killed more than 22,000 and left more than one million people homeless and a further 24 million without access to clean water and electricity.
Another initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed was Noor Dubai, which promotes the delivery of preventative eye care to over one million people in developing countries, as part of its drive to realise its goal of a world free from curable forms of blindness.
Noor Dubai has already had a major impact in many countries such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Sri Lanka, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Pakistan, Ethiopia Egypt, Jordan as well as the UAE. Numerous patients from these countries, who suffer from eye-related diseases, have traveled to Dubai for free treatment, including surgical procedures.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charitable Foundation continues to participate and contribute to improving at-risk societies, helping citizens who cannot shoulder the weight of poverty, conflict and natural disasters ravaging their countries.Sunday, November 23, 2008