“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.”