The Big Heart Foundation: An Emirati model for dignity in compassion

Every year, during the holy month of Ramadan, there is an abundance of humanitarian assistance and relief efforts for the less privileged that receive great media coverage. Since excessive media attention can be detrimental to child beneficiaries among them, we at the Child Safety Department (CSD) in Sharjah have redoubled our efforts to protect children and maintain their dignity, thus ensuring that there is no violation of their privacy in the media and press.

This year, we have come across an exemplary model of a humanitarian campaign that respects children’s dignity and right to privacy. The author of this novel strategy is The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), which launched its ‘Who Am I?’ Ramadan campaign earlier this month, calling upon the international community to tap into their charitable potential without needing to look at haunting images of those in suffering or their personal details. Instead, TBHF narrated their stories employing the voices and faces of kind-hearted individuals who also happen to be known media personalities and public figures.

TBHF’s approach in this campaign perfectly mirrors the CSD’s motto for child safety and development. For the past five years, we have led a number of initiatives and projects to address child-related issues and cases in the media without once compromising on their personal information or their rights. We have avoided turning in any written or visual content that could become a means of violating children’s privacy or giving bullies and criminals an opportunity to exploit them.

All these years we have believed that such efforts and initiatives will have a tangible, two-fold impact if there are worthy models to emulate, and if there are key entities that adopt this approach to drive a fundamental change in media’s handling of sensitive, humanitarian issues. Several newspapers, television channels and websites in the UAE have adopted these ethical standards, injecting the Arab media world with professionalism and commitment to principles in addressing children’s issues.

TBHF’s ‘Who am I?’ campaign deserves recognition and appreciation. It is a qualitative drive at the international level of humanitarian efforts and a vibrant embodiment of Sharjah’s vision and mission in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA). It is also an expression of UAE’s stance on children’s issues around the world.

At the CSD, we are proud to share our goals with prestigious and responsible entities that work consciously to help their target groups, and we are extremely happy to note TBHF’s message in its Ramadan Zakat campaign: “Supporting refugees starts with respecting their dignity and privacy.”

Hanadi Al Yafei is the Director of the Child Safety Department, Sharjah.