The charity was started by Dr.Esmat Al Said and a group of Arab ladies in 1967 after the six day war when Israel occupied the whole of Palestine, and annexed the Golan from Syria and the Sinai from Egypt. There was an urgent need to help the many refugees of this new diaspora and to provide medical aid to the wounded. Dr.Al Said had been very impressed by the role that British women had played during the 2nd world war and their contribution to the war effort. She felt that Arab women could play a similar role to help ease this sense of loss, displacement and physical suffering caused by this new war which had so shaken the whole of the Middle East.
Esmat Al Said was born into a prominent family and had strong contacts with several of the Royal Families and Embassies of the Middle East. She was entrusted with generous donations from these Royal Families who not only believed in her, but also in the dedication and professionalism of the many people who came on board to help her.
In 1978 the charity was registered officially in the UK. It’s operations included assisting Muslim countries, like Pakistan, in emergencies such as earthquakes and floods. Arab Embassies contributed greatly in terms of financial donations and in helping promote Arab goods by holding fashion shows and organising craft fairs. There were also receptions to meet the British public in order to promote cultural understanding. They visited hospitals in London and gave support to the Arab patients.
Esmat Al Said passed away in 1997 and the charity was taken under the wing of the Charities Commission until 2003 when it was decided to bring the charity back to the Arab community. The Charities Commission appointed several prominent members of the Arab community to act as first trustees to bring the charity to an AGM in January 2004. The first trustees were:
|Safa’ El-Sawy||School Head|
The current trustees are:
|Dr.Sarab Ahmed||School Head|
|Ahlam Akram||Public Relations|
As part of the bid to re-launch the charity, the trustees decided to alter the working title of the charity. It was changed from the Arab Women’s Council (AWC – the shortened name for the International Arab Women’s Council Charities Fund) to the International Arab Charity (IAC). We felt that with “women” in the title, the name suggested that we support women’s causes exclusively and/or that we only accept ladies as members. In fact, the objectives of the charity had always been primarily centred on humanitarian, cultural and educational pursuits and the membership has always been open to men as well as women; we therefore took the decision to broaden the working title. We also felt that as The International Arab Charity we have a better chance of flourishing with the circumstances we have in the world today.
We hope to continue the work of the AWC under the working title of the IAC to the same high standards set for us by Dr.Esmat Al-Said and the group of ladies who worked with her. We also hope to continue to put into effect the aims of the charity in the spirit of compassion and dedication passed down to us by her.
The trustees of the IAC wish to acknowledge in gratitude and appreciation the value of legacy that was established by the late Dr.Esmat Al-Said, Madame M. El Borai, Mrs Sawsan Tawfiq Al Mudaris, the late Ayisha Dajani, Mrs Leila Tanous, Mrs Ghada Hamad (Um Ali), Mrs.Nadwa Ben-Khadra, Mrs Safiya Al Turki, Mrs.Maha Al Sharif, Mrs.Shafiqa Al-Omari, Mrs Haya Naser, Mrs Latifa Costa, Dr.Najat Al Shadhir, Mrs.Safa’ El-Sawy, Mrs Ena’am Al Jumaili, Mrs Shahnaz Farahat, Mrs Laila Latifi, Mrs.Sana Shaw, Mrs Sana Al-Khudairi, Dr.Lama’an Al Bakri and Mrs Narmine Qardar. These ladies, as well as other members who were active in the AWC, were all instrumental in establishing the excellent reputation of the AWC and in gathering the fund that is still today helping Arabs throughout the West and the Middle East.
Please note that the time devoted to the IAC by the trustees and committee members is on a voluntary basis.
Helping amputees in the Palestinian Camps in Lebanon
There are currently twelve refugee camps in Lebanon housing over 400,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom have been born and bred in these camps. They are possibly even more neglected than the people in the camps in Palestine; they have a different set of problems. There are 78 professions that Palestinians are not allowed to work in and there are far too few secondary schools for the number of students. It is hard for them to see a good future, to be independent and to feel like they have something to contribute. These stresses breed all kinds of problems – we were lost as to where to start to help. One of our trustees, Lubna Samara, visited a few of the camps in April 2004 and while there she noticed several amputees without artificial limbs.
When we made inquiries we found that although some aid was available, it wasn’t filtering through in a significant way. Our long term aim is to set up centralised clinics that specialise for the amputees – a one stop shop that will help them with funding, medical treatments, physiotherapy, rehabilitation as well as provide the limbs. We have joined forces with Response International (RI) (www.hmdresponse.org.uk) who have produced a thorough assessment for us to submit to funding bodies for grants to fund the project. We are very pleased to report that the project has received $200,000 from DFID (Foreign Office) to proceed with enhancing the clinics.