The al­tru­is­tic jour­ney

In a se­ries of col­umns this Ra­madan, Shaikha Shamma Bint Sul­tan Bin Khal­ifa Al Nahyan opens up about her per­sonal con­nec­tion to char­ity work, and how we can all make a dif­fer­ence this month

Friday - - Week One Giving -

In De­cem­ber 2016, I was very pleased to hear the news that 2017 would be the Year of Giv­ing. Kind­ness, com­pas­sion and a will­ing­ness to give are val­ues that should come nat­u­rally to all of us, but some­times we get so caught up in our busy lives that we lose fo­cus on what is re­ally im­por­tant. A gen­tle re­minder from time to time is good for us all.

Through­out the Year of Giv­ing, the UAE urges com­pa­nies to give back, as part of their cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, and en­cour­ages the whole pub­lic sec­tor to fa­cil­i­tate projects that will cre­ate a pos­i­tive im­pact on the coun­try. Vol­un­teerism plays a ma­jor role in this and, whether on be­half of a cor­po­ra­tion or on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis, we should all be pre­pared to give our time.

Giv­ing is an act of kind­ness that has em­pa­thy at its core. Ev­ery mem­ber of so­ci­ety should be en­cour­aged to show that they care. We can all play a part, no mat­ter how big or how small, in help­ing make a dif­fer­ence to the lives of oth­ers. Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence does not have to cost any­thing, it can be a mere smile or a few beau­ti­ful words that can make a per­son happy.

From a per­sonal point of view, my fam­ily has taught me the im­por­tance of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity and this has in­spired me to found two char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tives, “Wanna Read?” in 2013, and Bea­con of Hope in 2016. Both of these de­pend upon the gen­eros­ity of vol­un­teers who do­nate their time to help other peo­ple. “Wanna Read?” fo­cuses on cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that helps chil­dren in hos­pi­tal to find an es­cape through books. Bea­con of Hope pro­vides so­lar-light lessons to chil­dren glob­ally, from those who al­ready have light in their lives to those who are less for­tu­nate, bring­ing the gift of ar­ti­fi­cial light to ar­eas of ex­treme en­ergy poverty. With Ra­madan ap­proach­ing – a time of com­pas­sion for oth­ers – we ex­pe­ri­ence self-sac­ri­fice by ab­stain­ing from food and wa­ter be­tween sun­rise and sun­set, but giv­ing back to so­ci­ety is a more mean­ing­ful act than merely ab­stain­ing from food. Ra­madan is also a time for re­flec­tion, en­cour­ag­ing us to be­come more aware of our­selves, more thought­ful in our ap­proach to life, and less self­ish in our ac­tions.

Dur­ing this pe­riod of fast­ing, we should all re­mem­ber that there are many peo­ple around the world who do not have enough to eat. At a time when we may have ex­cess food, we should con­sider shar­ing it with the Nah­tam and Grace Con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tive run by the UAE Red Cres­cent or con­trib­ute by vol­un­teer­ing with the UAE Food Bank – com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives that fo­cus on dis­tribut­ing sus­te­nance to those in need. We live on a planet where ev­ery­one and

My fam­ily has taught me the im­por­tance of GIV­ING back to the com­mu­nity and this has IN­SPIRED me to found two char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tives, “WANNA READ?” in 2013, and Bea­con of Hope in 2016

ev­ery­thing is in­ter­linked, so per­haps we could also cre­ate a pos­i­tive im­pact and give back to the world in a dif­fer­ent way, for ex­am­ple by re­duc­ing our con­sump­tion in other ar­eas of life.

Sus­tain­abil­ity is a word that is at the fore­front of our minds these days and I would sug­gest that the United Na­tions’ Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals might be a good place to start if we are look­ing for a new ap­proach to the idea of giv­ing. So, why not find a goal that you be­lieve in and aim to make a con­tri­bu­tion to­wards that goal, ei­ther di­rectly or through an or­gan­i­sa­tion?

How­ever we choose to go about it, let’s make Ra­madan an ex­tra special time dur­ing the Year of Giv­ing. We can all find a way to help some­one ev­ery day and be a role model to oth­ers.

Find out more at sheikhashamma.ae

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