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Malaysian NGO opens ‘Big Heart’ learning centre
By A Staff Reporter January 23, 2019
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SHARJAH: Dignity for Children Foundation (DFCF), a Kuala Lumpur-based educational NGO, which has been educating and training urban poor children and young refugees in the Malaysian capital, has inaugurated its first wholly-owned and privately-held learning centre, and named it ‘The Big Heart’.

The inaugural ceremony organised by Dignity Foundation was attended by a TBHF volunteering delegation comprising senior officials and a host of 23 young volunteers from the emirate’s youth entities like FUNN, Sharjah Girl Guides (SGG), Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Sharjah Youth, Sharjah Police Headquarters and Victoria International School.

This expansion of Dignity’s flagship project, the Urban Youth Education Village, follows from the Dhs500,000 they acquired as the winner of the 2018 edition of the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA), which is organised annually by the Sharjah-based humanitarian organisation, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) SIARA was launched by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children. The foundation was launched three years ago to recognise outstanding efforts and initiatives that improve the lives of millions of individuals and families who have been displaced from their homes due to a natural disaster or war in Asia and the MENA region.

The Sharjah Ruler also donated an additional $1 million to Dignity Foundation at the SIARA awarding ceremony last year, to boost their pioneering efforts in offering quality education and vocational training to hundreds of underprivileged families in the Sentul area and beyond to break the cycle of poverty and build respectable lives for themselves.

The building features six classrooms for up to 95 high school students in the 16-18 years age group, and is part of the learning centre, which already caters for 1,751 students. It also includes the main offices, the school restaurant, a bakery and meeting rooms.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said: “At TBHF, we seek to support refugees and disadvantaged people from around the world, through our collaborations with international organisations and foundations dedicated to serving the humanitarian needs of refugees and the internally displaced. We are dedicated to enhancing the efficiency and impact of the support provided to the less fortunate by supporting the efforts of organisations like Dignity.

“We are delighted to see their remarkable achievements and wish them continued success. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 163,000 refugees in Malaysia, including 43,000 children. All these children need a solid education, if they were to have a future of dignity and success. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi has always believed that supporting refugees and building a better future for them starts with a good education – an ambition we are furthering through our support to Dignity. This new achievement highlights Sharjah’s growing international humanitarian role, as a centre for education, in line with its designation as Cultural Capital of the UAE,” Hammadi added.

For his part, Elisha Satvinder, Co-founder and Chairman of Dignity for Children Foundation, expressed his appreciation to the Sharjah Ruler and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher, Wife of His Highness, and TBHF, for their resolute support to humanitarian initiatives, globally.

He said: “Our vision matches the one held by Sharjah and TBHF – to enable disadvantaged people to live with dignity and hope. Thanks to their generous support, we can give these communities access to a decent education and skills training, giving them hope for brighter and financially independent futures.”

Dignity for Children Foundation is a charity organisation established in 1998 by Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina, after discovering many underprivileged families in the Sentul area, Malaysia. It began to reach out to the community through home improvement services, grocery distribution, arrangement of free medical check-ups, to name a few. Believing that quality education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, they consolidated their efforts by focusing solely on education to attract students of all ages to their tuition classes.

Many DFCF graduates have received private scholarships for their postgraduate studies, and some have joined the UNHCR as translators or developmental workers in their local communities.

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