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
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