Duchess of York hopes to work with Saudi Arabia on health care for children ▶ Sarah Ferguson attended the Misk Global Forum in the Saudi capital yesterday
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, wants to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to set up primary-care health centres for children in the kingdom.
The duchess told the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh yesterday that she was setting up talks with ministers to help support care for young people in the hardest-to-reach areas of the country.
A keen horse rider, Ms Ferguson said that she hopes to take to the road to find out what care people most need.
“I love this visual of riding into a small town on a horse, sort of Buffalo Bill comes to town, and then I get off my horse, as a humble way of transport, and say, ‘how can I help?’” she said.
“I don’t know if you remember Mary Poppins; she says ‘we mustn’t make piecrust promises – easily made and easily broken’. I can’t make a comment if I can’t back it up,” she said.
Ms Ferguson chose to help the country because 70 per cent of the population is under 35, and the “joy, enthusiasm, self-determination and humour” of young people is important to her.
“I don’t like grown-ups ... they don’t understand me,” she said. “They don’t want to listen to understand me. So I don’t want to be with them then because they want to make me something I’m not.”
Saudi Arabia launched a series of health campaigns this year aimed at cutting diabetes and high blood pressure rates.
Ms Ferguson, who was referred to as “Sarah of Arabia” on Tuesday during a talk about her philanthropic work, spent 10 years working as a spokeswoman for weight-loss brand
Weight Watchers in the US, championing the importance of exercise and a good diet.
She is planning to work with a healthcare company in the UAE to continue her work with obesity and diabetes, and hopes to bring knowledge gained from the experience to Saudi Arabia.
“I was a comfort eater – that’s why I worked for Weight Watchers,” she said. “We haven’t got time not to get these primary care units up.”
The annual Misk Global Forum is run by the Misk Foundation, a youth development fund set up by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Its focus this year is on future skills, AI and social intelligence.
Ms Ferguson thanked the crown prince and the forum for asking her to take part.
The duchess spoke at the event about the concept of the “philantropreneur”, an idea that she applies to her work with Sarah’s Trust and that refers to the use of philanthropy to empower people towards entrepreneurship.
The Key to Freedom initiative, set up by the duchess and her daughter, Princess Eugenie, helps vulnerable women from India who have suffered sex trafficking or domestic violence to produce ethical fashion that is sold in high-street outlets such as Topshop.
The women produce silkprinted scarves and bags that sell for about £30 (Dh141).
I love this visual of riding into a small town on a horse ... and then I get off my horse and say, ‘how can I help?’ SARAH FERGUSON Duchess of York