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UAE Arab Hope Makers: Woman On A Mission To Empower Kids In Famine-hit Somalia

Emirates Red Crescent has saved thousands of lives in Somalia, reeling from the aftermath of a devastating famine that killed about 260,000 people between 2010-2012. Half of the victims were children under the age of five. The humanitarian crisis was named the worst in 25 years, according to a 2013 report by the United Nations and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Moved by the plight of people, Somali national Zahra Hassan Farah decided to take things in her hands. Farah is a nominee in Arab Hope Makers 2020, which will conclude on February 20 in Dubai. Arab Hope Makers is an annual award ceremony launched in 2017 to honour people who start humanitarian projects that improve their communities. In the previous round, over 87,000 entries were recorded; five finalists took home Dh1 million in each round to support their humanitarian projects. She provided food, water and clothes to children left orphaned by the famine. But it was not enough to secure their future.

Farah wanted to empower these young victims but for that she needed a centre where the children could educate themselves and learn skills which could shape their future. So she began contacting charity foundations, non-profit organisations and independent donors for support to purchase a land for the proposed centre. With direct support from the Emirates Red Crescent, the ‘Khadija Foundation,’ a Somaliland-based NGO, she was able to acquire 100 hectares of land. Besides providing a home that nurtures and educates orphans, the foundation continued to provide humanitarian support and emergency and disaster relief for disadvantaged communities in Somalia in collaboration with Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Emirates Red Crescent and Africa Educational Trust.

It also builds schools across the country, provides healthcare services and training to empower women, youth and people of determination. Until today, ‘Khadija Foundation’ has benefitted over 14,000 orphans, empowered 75 children of determination and supported 732 disadvantaged families. Since its inception, the foundation has provided emergency assistance to over 32,000 families and supplied meals to more than 200,000 displaced people affected by natural disasters, drought and conflict.

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