In an era where trouble and turmoil has spread across many regions, innocent children have been caught in the crossfire. We have all seen it with our own eyes, whether on television or right in our own country. Save the Children is one organization that is doing all it can to help those in need, especially the children.
And to help with this needy situation, brands, celebrities, and regular citizens alike are donating and getting involved with Save the Children because it is a noble thing to do - it is the least someone can do. On the occasion of its 130th anniversary and to increase its support for Save the Children, Bvlgari was proud to announce Magida El Roumi as the first Middle Eastern Humanitarian Ambassador for the Bvlgari - Save the Children Partnership. As a philanthropic champion, the celebrity recognizes the necessity of increasing awareness of underprivileged children throughout the Arab countries and she takes on this challenging endeavor with vibrant benevolence and humility.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Saba Al Mobaslat, Director for Program Quality and Development at Save the Children, at a press conference announcing Magida El Roumi as this new figure at the Al Bustan Hotel, Beirut. She explained to me what Save the Children does and about how every single one of us can equally help in this world – both regular citizens and famous faces.
For those who may not already know, what is Save the Children?
It is what the name says; our mission is to save children no matter where they are. Our ultimate goal is that children’s rights should be met; that is the responsibility of governments to start with but then we come in to complement certain gaps and aim to provide ethical support. Our job is to create and recreate an organization that speaks all languages, respects all cultures, does not categorize people based on their original religion, and lend a hand to all those who need support. Our ultimate goal is to create positive, lasting change in the lives of people. Unfortunately, in our region we need it more than anywhere else.
It must be very challenging when you want to help so much and there is only so much you can do.
I wish we can move into the longer term development because now we are literally saving lives. When you end up with unaccompanied children or when you are face to face with a child asking a simple question like “when am I going home” and you cannot answer, it leaves you very devastated – but it gives you hope. As long as there are people who are willing to support, like Bvlgari and many other individuals, we can work to help as much as possible. Whether it is the grandma who donates five pounds or a rich person who donates millions of dollars, they are equal to us because they keep us going.
We are pretty much located around the world, and wherever there is a crisis, our job is doubled because as a dual mandate organization; we make sure that we work toward development, but when there is a humanitarian crisis, we will respond to it the best we can.
So where are you based for Save the Children?
I am based in Jordan and have been involved with Save the Children for nine years now; I am the Director for Program Quality & Development at Save the Children and we have a team of 476 people in Jordan alone. We have volunteers and employees, we are a business. For instance, to give you an idea about the scale of our work, we distribute half a million pieces of bread every morning in Za’atari camp; we have been doing that for the past two and half years. So you have to get professional, you have to make sure you run your finances with transparency, you hold yourself accountable, you have the best social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists… you really want to put the world in a box and give it to a child. And for that to happen, you have to have top notch professionals on board.
When was Save the Children established?
We are 95 years old globally. We have been in Jordan since 1985 and in the Arab region for the past 60 years.
Is there an office here in Lebanon?
Yes, there is what we call Save the Children International which is the platform under which we have our different operations in different country offices. And then we have members – we have Save the Children Canada, Save the Children UK, US, Sweden, Norway, etc. These are international members who implement international programs while having their domestic programs too.
How important and how relevant is it for celebrity names and brands to get involved with bringing attention to the cause?
I think it adds a little bit of humbleness to the big names. That sense of humbleness and commitment to the mass is what we depend on; unfortunately we are living in a world where the majority are poor and need support. And if big names do not support the majority, then the majority will be supported by other names that may take them in different directions. So I think it’s our responsibility to this world to ensure that neutral people without political affiliations are supporting broadening the scope and the options and alternatives so that we do not get categorized in a very narrow way based on our religion or origin in a global world where we take the pride of defining ourselves as global citizens. I think big names with such initiatives make sure to connect individuals from all across the globe with causes that are equally big.
How will Magida El Roumi be involved in Save the Children?
Magida El Roumi will be Bvlgari’s face for the Middle East for the humanitarian work that Bvlgari is committed to investing in. And of course the Middle East would be a priority knowing that she is famous, well respected, devoted, and committed. From our side, we cannot tell the story about saving children alone; so having someone like Magida tell the story will give it a lot of credibility and will make it more heard.
What message would you like to send out to Fit’n Style readers?
I just want to remind people that what’s happening is not far away. I think Lebanese in particular will understand because they can relate, they are living it. They are sharing their food with whoever is seeking refuge in their country. It’s all about those who can give, and those who need. If every one of us gives a little, there would be very few who need support. It’s about being humble and reminding yourself that if you sense that level of satisfaction with everyone around you not being satisfied on a basic level, that is not the life we want. We want to be able to save each other, and from an Arab person, I would want to see Arabs not only part of problems, but part of solutions. So I am hopeful that we will be able to mobilize young people and keep them far away from being polluted by one ideology or radical idea and just encourage them to think in a humble way and teach them how to empathize, not only sympathize, with humanity and human needs across the globe.
On October 19th 2014, Magida El Roumi and Save the Children representatives will embark on a dedicated field trip visiting the second biggest refugee site in the world: the Za’atari camp in Jordan. She will interact with several Save the Children humanitarian and educational programmes such as the bread and food distribution points for the entire camp, the youth centers that assist children and young adults to cope with their individual tragedies, and to uncover a sense of normalcy through informal instructive and sport related activities. An overwhelming part of the visit will certainly be the Rainbow kindergarten, one of three preschools built by Save the Children with the support of Bvlgari, where specially-trained educators run high-quality teaching programmes for 6,000 children aged 3 to 5.
To date, Bvlgari has generated over €20 million (US $27 million) in donations for Save the Children. The sum exceeds, by far, the ambitious objective set in 2009 when the partnership began. Bvlgari’s campaign of unprecedented magnitude ensures that part of the proceeds of Save the Children jewellery are donated to the charity.
Inspired by the iconic B.zero1 jewellery line, the special collection comprises a ring, launched in October 2010, and the latest addition: a pendant, launched in April 2014. Each piece is available in Bvlgari stores worldwide for €420 ($480), of which €75 ($100) are donated to Save the Children. After almost five years, the collaboration has developed into a strong and long-standing relationship.
“The partnership of Save the Children and Bvlgari establishes unprecedented standards with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility never before achieved in the luxury sector,” said Claudio Tesauro, President of Save the Children Italia at the press conference for Magida El Roumi.
With enormous influence and unrivalled experience on the ground, Save the Children is the world’s largest independent international organization running programs in developing as well as developed countries. Teaming up with Bvlgari’s brand ambassadors, it continues its exemplary work wherever its support is most needed. In fact, to this date, Save the Children’s programs have reached over 600,000 children and trained over 20,000 teachers through academic activities in more than 1,200 schools, many of which are located in areas affected by conflict, extreme poverty, or other crises.
Bvlgari’s donations benefit under-privileged children in 23 countries such as: Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Uganda, UK and the US.
Renowned photographer Fabrizio Ferri has actively supported this initiative with his time and talent. Over the years, he has photographed over 200 celebrities wearing the ring and, recently, the pendant in support of Bvlgari’s commitment to quality schooling for the world’s neediest children. The celebrity protagonists of Ferri’s photo-essays (each of whom have participated in the project on a voluntary basis) include names such as Magida El Roumi, Meg Ryan, Naomi Watts, Oliver Stone, Alexander Ludwig, Anita Kravos, Camilla Belle, Danny Huston, Dita Von Teese, Gale Harold III, and Jeremy Piven. The list is tremendously long.
Many celebrities involved in the partnership have actively participated in field visits to Save the Children programs funded by Bvlgari, to personally observe the impact of this resilient collaboration.
- Ben Stiller visited educational programs in Uganda in 2010 and went to Haiti in 2011 after the horrific earthquake.
- In 2012, world-renowned Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi visited the Early Childhood Development centre in Yamenkou, Beijing, China.
- Japanese celebrity Eriko Nakamura visited in 2011 elementary schools in Ishinomaki, after the earthquake in Japan.
- Australian Hollywood movie star Eric Bana visited programs for children and adolescence in disadvantaged west Sydney in 2014.
As an example, €75 /$100 can provide:
- Tables and benches for 6 children attending classes in the Ivory Coast.
- A meal a day for 4 months for 1 kindergarten child in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.
- A week’s treatment for 5 seriously under-nourished children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Audio System for 1 school in India to enhance the students learning skills.
- 30 schoolbooks for children aged 2-6 in rural China.
- 1 small library and 2 educational kits with letters and numbers for 15 young children in Albania.
- 6 mosquito nets in malaria-affected areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Visit www.savethechildren.org for more information.