The Emirati man who won Dh1 million for his humanitarian work said the money would be used to help more people in Kenya.
Ahmed Al Falasi, 60, was named the 2020 winner of the Arab Hope Makers award in Dubai on Thursday night. The annual award honours people in the Arab world who dedicate their lives to humanitarian work.
He received the accolade for his work helping transform the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa into one of the most advanced facilities in the country.
However, after receiving his prize from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, he insisted there was still much more work to be done.
“I would like to buy more advanced medical equipment because before this we couldn’t buy it. But now we can,” he said. “We want to buy a new MRI machine because the one we have been using is 10 years old and is being used by thousands of people.
“The need for new equipment is high.”
Mr Al Falasi dedicated his award to the UAE leadership for their efforts in supporting his cause.
“They told me to help people and it doesn’t matter what religion they are,” he said. “They told me, ‘if someone needs help, give it to them’.”
He plans to extend his charitable work to other Kenyan regions but, for now, the focus is on Mombasa.
“We are going to be working in other places but my main target is to make this hospital active,” said Mr Al Falasi.
The recognition of being named as the latest recipient of the Arab Hope Maker award helps shine a light on the need for aid in Kenya, he added.
“I hope with your voice and your cameras and microphones we can show the world there is a need to put a focus on that area,” he said, speaking to the media after winning the award.
Mr Al Falasi’s efforts to help the people of Mombasa started when he visited the region 27 years ago and was shocked to find ragged beds and patients on the waiting list for months before receiving kidney dialysis.
His late mother had received kidney dialysis treatment, which meant the plight of those in Mombasa struck a chord.
That inspired him to help create a kidney dialysis section that supported 8,000 patients.
He then established a new-born unit with 570 beds and incubators to benefit 17,000 each month.
He also constructed wells and houses for people affected by floods in Mombasa.
Mr Al Falasi’s work was not limited to Mombasa. He had left a mark in China after he established a school and an orphanage there.
He worked closely with his wife and daughter on his humanitarian efforts, relying on the family’s personal funding to help others.
He would not say how much he had spent on providing aid to those in need.
“It’s a lot but it’s between me and God," said Mr Al Falasi. "Even Sheikh Mohammed asked me how much I had spent and I had to say ‘sorry, sir!’."