Think of helping others, urges Amel founder - GulfToday

Think of helping others, urges Amel founder


Dr Kamel Mohanna interacts with children during a session.

“The future has arrived and it’s in your hands. You are a multilingual generation familiar with modern technologies. You are a progressive minded, forward-thinking generation that accepts people from different nationalities, ethnicities and religions. Our hope therefore lies in you. I urge everyone to free themselves of their ego and think of others. The best people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.”

With these enlightening words, Dr Kamel Mohanna, Founder and President of the Lebanese Amel Foundation International and a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, began his speech, during a session organised by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) at Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, titled. “The Inspiration Journey.”

Youth from Sajaya Young Ladies, Victoria International School of Sharjah, Sharjah Youth and University of Sharjah took part in the session with Dr Mohanna, who was honoured on Wednesday by Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.

He was presented with the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA) 2019.

The award was bestowed upon him by the Big Heart Foundation (TBH), in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Dr Mohanna recalled his difficult childhood, living in a family of 11 members, in Southern Lebanon. He said, “I learnt during a time when literacy rates were very low and studied when times were oppressive.”

Dr Mohanna remembered the horrors of war and the tragedies that struck his life during the war in Lebanon, which motivated him to help others. He shared that every time he helped others, he felt an innate satisfaction, making him feel that he was equally helped by others at some point.  

He then talked about his experiences at Amel Foundation, which was established in 1979, that now has 24 branches across the world.

It is dedicated to saving people and improving the quality of refugee lives.

He then encouraged the youth to maintain positive thinking and believe in teamwork.

Dr Mohanna then shared his experience about losing his young son. He said, “I raised my son on the principles of humanitarian work and he was drawn to it at an early age. One day, while he and his colleagues were on a school trip, a fire broke out. His friends were stuck in a closed room and he went in to rescue them. But all of them including him, died of asphyxiation.” But, he then said, this tragedy did not deter him from his work, instead it made him even more resolute and determined, to carry out his humanitarian work.

The participants present at the panel discussion also saw a short A/V produced by the Big Heart Foundation about the Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA). The video showed the struggle of refugees who were forced to abandon their home countries. The video also narrated their determination to stay positive, despite all odds.

It also urged people to change their perspective towards them and view them as assets rather than a burden for their host countries.

Finally, the session also presented a film about Amel Foundation’s efforts to assist and support refugees by providing them with job opportunities, and how they can use their skills and talents to be productive citizens and inspiring role models, not only for themselves and their communities, but also for their host countries.

While honouring Amel, the Sharjah Ruler also announced a $1 million financial contribution for Amel. The donation has been made to significantly bolster the efforts of the non-profit organisation, which has been working tirelessly since 1979 to provide emergency and rehabilitation assistance to those in need.

Last year, the organisation’s beneficiaries exceeded 100,000, with half of them being women and children.

Sheikh Sultan congratulated Amel Association International, its supporters and partners for their efforts to serve those in need, and lauded the humanitarian efforts and initiatives of TBHF to support refugee children and their families.

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