Emirates Woman - - Feature/finalists - JUMANA ABU-HANNOUD Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, Gulf Area Of­fice of SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages In­ter­na­tional MADA ALSUWAIDI Se­nior Coun­try Pro­gram Of­fi­cer at Dubai Cares

“I have been pas­sion­ate about hu­man­i­tar­ian work all my life,” Jumana Abu-Hannoud ex­plains of her nat­u­ral tran­si­tion into a ca­reer built around car­ing for oth­ers. Prior to her cur­rent role as the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages In­ter­na­tional where she is “ex­pand­ing its net­work of part­ners to­wards a sus­tain­able fu­ture through de­vel­op­ing strate­gies, mo­bil­is­ing re­sources and spread­ing aware­ness of chil­dren’s rights and health­care is­sues,” Jumana worked for H.R.H. Princess Haya for five years help­ing to im­ple­ment na­tional, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional strate­gies around ed­u­ca­tion, peace and health, and also served as a Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer for the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees.

De­spite the heart­break­ing na­ture of her work, Jumana says the peo­ple she meets con­stantly en­cour­age her. “I find my in­spi­ra­tion in the strength that peo­ple show dur­ing di­ver­sity – it makes me reach within my­self for my own courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion.” Af­ter re­al­is­ing her pas­sion for devel­op­ment work in univer­sity, Mada AlSuwaidi joined Dubai Cares in 2013 at age 23. “The chal­lenges I faced at the start of my ca­reer were re­lated to my age,” she ex­plains. “Be­ing a young woman, trav­el­ling around the world and meeting with pro­fes­sion­als, ex­perts and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­tim­i­dated me then. How­ever, it al­lowed me to grow im­mensely and gain ex­per­tise.”

Mada is now re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing 12 pro­grammes in 10 coun­tries. “When I travel, I meet with gov­ern­ments, vil­lage lead­ers, teach­ers, par­ents, sin­gle moth­ers and chil­dren who have faced poverty, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, health prob­lems or child labour. I also meet young moth­ers who missed school due to early preg­nancy or child mar­riage.” It is th­ese in­ter­ac­tions that in­spire her to help. “It al­lows me to un­der­stand the chal­lenges they face and put in place pro­grammes that ad­dress th­ese hard­ships and truly have an im­pact on their lives.”


Founder of Na­dine Arton, GlamOnYou and Amal Pro­ject

“I was very am­bi­tious, fear­less and al­ways wanted to make a dif­fer­ence in any way pos­si­ble,” Na­dine Arton says of her back­ground in in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism that fo­cused on for­eign aid and the diplo­matic field. Most re­cently, Na­dine (who also runs two suc­cess­ful fash­ion lines – one named af­ter her­self and the other called GlamOnYou) launched The AMAL pro­ject, which “aims to help trau­ma­tised and un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren in con­flict zones.” The pro­ject fo­cuses mostly on the Zaatari camp in Jor­dan where Na­dine and her team have built recre­ational cen­tres where the chil­dren liv­ing there can play and learn and Na­dine says they’re “look­ing to bring AMAL to other places as well.”

The pro­ject has not been with­out its chal­lenges. “It’s very dif­fi­cult to work with big NGOs, the UN and gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties, es­pe­cially if you’re a pri­vate ini­tia­tive like us. You have to make your­self heard, so we had to be per­sis­tent and dar­ing.”

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