Sharjah – MENA Herald: Sharjah-based humanitarian project The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has teamed up with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to meet the vital food needs of 17,000 of the poorest non-refugees in the Gaza Strip for one month.

Through this partnership TBHF will help WFP transfer funds in the form of food electronic cards to families in need. The food card allows families to buy the nutritious food of their choice at retailers in their neighbourhoods partnering with WFP.

Food e-cards or WFP’s Cash Based Transfers (CBTs) contribute to supporting the local economy including 75 local retailers and food producers and processers. More than US$110 million were invested in Palestine’s economy through CBTs since 2011.

“The Big Heart Foundation works to alleviate hardships experienced by Arab families across the globe and is continuously involved in assessing programmes that it could help with,” said Mariam Al Hammadi Director of TBHF’s ‘Salam Ya Seghar’ initiative. “We were attracted to this particular project because it provides food for those in need and – most importantly – it does so by providing them with choice. WFP’s food e-cards empowers its recipients by letting them decide when and where to shop and what foods to choose.”

WFP’s CBT programme in Palestine is providing financial support to more than 170,000 non-refugees, including around 72,000 people living in the five governorates of the Gaza Strip. This includes the Gaza, Khan Yunis, North Gaza, Deir al-Balah (Middle Area) and Rafah.

“There is a real need for assistance in the Gaza Strip, as more than 75 percent of households that WFP assist include children and women. Women are sole or primary earners in approximately 25 percent of households WFP provides assistance to and many of them are elderly, have health issues or special needs. By teaming up with the WFP we know that we are working with an organisation that is best able to identify the families most in need for assistance,” added Al Hammadi.

She also highlighted the other benefits of working with WFP – the world’s largest humanitarian agency – through its CBT programme, revealing how the food e-card system has a multiplier positive effect on the local economy especially in the light of a struggling local economy.

In Palestine WFP is regularly providing basic food assistance to nearly 500,000 of the poorest people in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Assistance is delivered through in-kind food and CBTs in addition to nutrition awareness sessions.

“We are delighted to launch this new partnership with The Big Heart Foundation in support of the poorest Palestinians in Gaza,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Daniela Owen. “Poverty and food insecurity are linked to the protracted conflict in Palestine. They can be better fought through partnerships that support innovative and sustainable solutions. WFP`s assistance through the Cash-Based-Transfer ensures that poor people’s basic food and nutritional needs are met, whilst also providing valuable impact of supporting small-medium businesses in the face of economic hardship,” said Owen.
Since its inception, TBHF has succeeded in meeting the needs of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. It has provided life-saving medical services to over 365,000 displaced Syrians as well as food and financial assistance to more than 400,000 others. In February, 2016, the foundation pledged to donate US$350,000 towards two projects run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Iraq survive tough winter conditions.

TBHF has contributed through its humanitarian assistance to changing the lives of thousands of refugees worldwide, due to its nature and scope of work. The foundation has reached out to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and Rohingya Muslims in Indonesia, as well as Palestinian refugees in other Arab countries. It has worked to enable refugees live a humane and dignified life by providing a package of integrated services and assistance that includes healthcare and education. It also provides financial support to help displaced people meet their urgent needs and cover their essential living such as rent, food, fuel and clothing.

In June 2015, Her Highness Sheikh Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, launched TBHF to coincide with World Refugee Day. It followed the decision issued by Her Highness to transform what was then The Big Heart Campaign into a global humanitarian foundation. The move was aimed at redoubling efforts to help refugees and people in need worldwide, with the new foundation adding significantly to the UAE’s rich portfolio and long record of humanitarian initiatives