Big Heart Campaign helps clothe, feed and educate displaced Syrian children

The campaign has raised more than US$14.5 million (Dh53.2m) since its inception last year to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical aid, and to open a clinic in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

DUBAI // Thousands of Syrian children suffering as a result of the civil war are the focus of the Big Heart Campaign, says its founder.

The campaign has raised more than US$14.5 million (Dh53.2m) since its inception last year to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical aid, and to open a clinic in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

“Children make up 53 per cent of the total Syrian refugees,” said Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, who started the charity.

“The war in Syria has scarred them emotionally and physically. More than half of them are schoolchildren, yet a survey revealed that the majority of them are now working to support their families.

“Personally, I believe that of all the things that affect children, the worst is the violation of their right to education.

“That’s where the Big Heart Campaign comes in: to ensure a bright future in this dark tragedy.”

Sheikha Jawaher said children were paying a huge price for the Syrian civil war, which has forced nearly 3 million people to flee and said her charity would continue to help until the “crisis comes to an end”.

“They have witnessed the worst forms of violence, such as massacres and bombardments, and this trauma triggered deep mental disorders that affect their daily lives,” she said.

“What makes matters worse is that they are also suffering from neurological and physical disorders, with symptoms such as constant nightmares and perpetual fear of attacks.

“Children are the biggest casualties of war, suffering direct and indirect war injuries like deformations and limb amputations.

“And through the Big Heart Campaign we have tried to address these issues and help to ease the pain of children suffering from such trauma.”

Sheikha Jawaher said she was particularly moved by the story of a girl called Marwa, who lost many family members while escaping the war.

“They finally settled down in the refugee camps in Jordan,” she said.

“Here she continues her education by attending classes to keep her dream alive. Seeing victims of the war, Marwa has vowed to become a paediatrician when she grows up, so she can also help children in need.

“Her incredible courage and determination to learn and support her family touched me deeply.”

Sheikha Jawaher said her husband Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, and Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak had donated generously.

The UAE has been stepping up its efforts to help Syrian refugees and the UNHCR said it had started using part of the $5m donated by the Government last month to carry out relief work. The refugee agency said the donation would benefit about 115,000 refugees living in the Azraq and Zaatari camps, and would be used for primary health care, mental health, nutrition, rehabilitation and reproductive health services.

The UAE set aside $3m for water, sanitation and hygiene until April next year and $2m for health until the end of this year.

pkannan@thenational.ae

Published: August 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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