Dubai, UAE: From an initial target to provide one million children with access to quality education, philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares has come a long way as it has now touched 16 million young lives in 45 countries in just a decade.
As Dubai Cares marked its 10th birthday on Wednesday, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dubai Cares Chairperson; and Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg celebrated its achievements over the past decade and honoured key donors and supporters who have helped make a difference in the lives of these children and their communities.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, was also present, along with other senior officials.
Addressing Dubai Cares’ donors and supporters during the ceremony, Shaikh Mohammad said: “You have been with us since the beginning in our journey aimed at supporting children in developing countries in their quest for quality education.
“The children whom we have provided primary education are now in need of completing their education and we are committed to addressing their education needs, with a particular focus on quality of education to transform communities in developing countries,” he added.
The organisation’s focus for its first 10 years has been on supporting primary school-age children, as a key component of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
“We are now reaching more than 16 million children in 45 developing countries. This is the number of children whose lives we have together impacted. This is the legacy of everyone who has contributed to Dubai Cares. Let me repeat that — 16 million lives have been transformed — thanks to all of you,” Al Gurg said.
But besides the obvious aid such as building and renovating classrooms and schools, Dubai Cares has taken the lead in tackling lesser-known obstacles to education such as lack of gender-specific latrines and handwashing facilities and adequate student nutrition or health.
“As a result, we have managed to increase the level of enrolment in schools, reduce dropout rates, improve the quality of education, ensure gender equality across all programmes, provide training for teachers and contribute to the global body of evidence-based best practices,” Al Gurg said.
As it continues its programme in the years to come, Al Gurg said the organisation will now extend its reach to address the systemic factors and causes behind the large number of out-of-school children and youth globally. Dubai Cares will also increase its focus on funding interventions in areas where governments are unable to provide services, such as ‘education in emergencies’ programmes, aimed at supporting the most vulnerable children and young people.
Key partners from different aid agencies across the globe also thanked Dubai Cares for their support.
“The work of Dubai Cares is about more than numbers. It’s about commitment to evidence, to innovation, to reaching children across lines of race, religion, and region,” David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said.
Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said: “We are very proud of this partnership with Dubai Cares which began the very year Dubai Cares was founded. The first contribution to our work was in the Nahr Al Bared camp in Lebanon, providing schooling and other forms of support in response to an emergency.”
During the ceremony, a memorial containing all names of government, private sector and individual sponsors who have contributed to Dubai Cares was unveiled. Among those honoured as exemplary donors are pupils from the Kindergarten Starters, who have rallied financial support to Dubai Cares for the past five years.
“We feel bad that we are getting education and other children elsewhere in the world are not. Everyone should have access to education that’s why we are doing what we can to collect funds to help them,” Mahek Irfan Mohammad, one of the pupils, said.
Dubai Cares’ achievements through the years (as of 2016)
© Gulf NewsFeb 2017