RefuSHE, a Nairobi-based humanitarian agency founded in 2008 to address the significant, unmet needs for child and girl-focused refugee services in Kenya, was conferred with the 2021 Sharjah International Award for Refugee Advocacy and Support (SIARA) at a virtual ceremony. The $136,000 award, now in its fifth edition, is given annually by The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a UAE-based global humanitarian organization dedicated to helping refugees and people in need worldwide, in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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During a training course provided by RefuSHE to refugee girls (Photo: AETOSWire)
With the COVID-19 pandemic deepening the vulnerabilities of marginalized women and girls, the SIARA selection committee acknowledged the leading contributions of RefuSHE, a girl- and woman-centric humanitarian organization, for its efforts in protecting, educating, and empowering orphaned, unaccompanied, and separated refugee girls, children and young women aged 13 – 21 in the Great Lakes region of East Africa.
Through a holistic model comprising of trauma-informed and girl-centric interventions and long-term programmes that address urgent safety, shelter and healthcare concerns to economic empowerment, vocational training, and mental health initiatives, amongst others, RefuSHE has enabled 5,000 individuals, and around 20,000 indirect beneficiaries build healthier and more resilient futures for themselves and their children.
Three entities shortlisted for SIARA 2021, namely, RefuSHE from Kenya; International Network for Aid Relief and Assistance (INARA), which works for forcibly displaced children and youth in Lebanon and Turkey; and The Lotus Flower from Kurdistan, Iraq, which economically empowers vulnerable women and girls through innovative projects; are also recipients of a special grant this edition instituted by TBHF, in collaboration with UAE-based NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA). The US$ 300,000 grant will be divided evenly among the three non-profits.
Established in 2017, SIARA was instituted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness, TBHF Chairperson and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, who continue to champion philanthropic efforts by individuals and organizations around the world.