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Touched by an Angel

As the world celebrates Mothers’ Day this month, let’s spare a thought for orphans, widows and the “children of heaven” for whom this day has a special resonance.

Mothers are often the unsung heroes of our lives. Dedicating just one day to celebrating their efforts may not actually be testament enough to how much they actually do for us. 

As the main benefactor of orphans and widows in the Kingdom, the Royal Charity Organisation (RCO) does not fail to recognise the role played by mothers, especially those widowed, in bringing up children against all odds.

Patronised by HM King Hamad, the RCO supports 5,000 orphans in Bahrain, in addition to 5,000 widows and 7,000 under-privileged families, all of which receive a monthly allowance from the King.

On the occasion of Mothers’ Day, Dr Mustafa Al Sayed, secretary general of RCO, lauds the productive role played by Bahraini women in the community, as well as in nation-building.

“Our role is to take care of women as mothers, sisters and educators, since they spread goodness in the community. We’ll continue to implement many projects and development activities that serve the interests of both mothers and female students, underlining our keenness to encourage and appreciate them in all their aspirations and goals,” he asserts.

The charity is devoted to the wellbeing of orphans in Bahrain and provides educational support, health care, as well as social care to these children. All studying requirements for sponsored students are fulfilled by the RCO, including  school bags, necessary stationery and school uniforms. Hospitals wishing to donate provide free surgeries to RCO children, while eye-glasses and related medical accessories are also donated, in addition to arrangement for free transportation to the hospitals.

Honour the mothers
It goes without saying that mothers deserve to be recognised and appreciated — not just on Mother’s Day — for their contribution to building the lives of their children. However, nothing can match the blood, sweat and tears that widowed mothers put in to bring up children singlehandedly. It is this effort, by these outstanding mums, that the RCO has chosen to recognise with the Faisal bin Hamad award for the Model Mother. Every year, the charity sends out application forms for widowed mums, asking them to list their accomplishments as single mothers. The best three outstanding mums, selected by a panel of judges, are awarded with a plaque and cash reward to further improve their lives.

The charity’s health and psychological care wing recently organised a daylong treat of leisure and relaxation for 20 mothers benefiting from the RCOs services at the Al Areen Resort and Spa. Bahrain Olympic Committee Coach Saliha Al Rumayhi trained the mums in psychological and physical relaxation techniques, including sports exercises and breathing techniques for battling tiredness, stress and emotional problems.

Shine at school
Every child deserves access to education and orphans are no exception. The 50 best performing orphans affiliated with RCO are sponsored by HM King Hamad himself, while around 15 of Bahrain’s most recognised schools provide free scholarships for certain children sponsored by the RCO. These schools include Al Naseem School, Al Sanobil School, Abdul Rahman Kanoo School, Gulf Pearl School and Al Noor School. A special honouring ceremony is organised for outstanding students when they pass out of school, while those lagging behind in certain academic subjects are provided additional tutorial services. Banks have come forward to sponsor additional tutorial services for children falling behind, while corporate donors have given away school bags, stationery and books. At university level, all of Bahrain’s private universities offer scholarships to orphans affiliated with the RCO, while 50 scholarships are offered by the University of Bahrain to excelling candidates.

“We have a responsibility to the generation that is coming. We cannot limit ourselves to our own families and our communities,” says Dr Mustafa Al Sayed.

The RCO also offers university scholarships for students from underprivileged families and students with special needs. The charity pledges to pay the total studying fees for students it sends to the University of Bahrain, Bahrain Training Institute and to the College of Health Science. In addition, the organisation pays to the students who are granted scholarships and those granted subsidies for higher studies, an out-of-pocket subsidy for each semester.

Kick off with the best
Orphans and underprivileged children sponsored by the Royal Charity Organisation will soon get to develop their football skills and experience some of the best football training in the world, courtesy the Real Madrid Foundation. The world famous soccer club has signed up with the Bahrain Football Association and the RCO to train youngsters as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR). Coaches from Real Madrid were in Bahrain in January to begin training with the Bahraini trainers. Initially, they will take up training 18 children, 11 of which will be from the RCO. “The numbers will be expanded later on as the Real Madrid Academy takes shape in Bahrain. However, their aspiration is that 60 per cent of the children they train should be from the orphan and underprivileged sections,” says the spokesperson.
 
Activities galore
As part of their summer activities, RCO-sponsored children are taken on weekly outings to water parks, ice-skating rinks, cinema theatres and skiing excursions. The average number of children in these outings ranges from 200 to 300. A select number of orphans affiliated with the RCO also enjoy a day out at special events such as the Bahrain International Air Show and the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix. Spring camps include educational trips to the Al Areen Wildlife Park and camping in the Sakhir desert.

“The children are also taken on educational trips to foreign embassies and government departments to broaden their horizons. We also send our final year students on rotation to various companies and several of them are promised jobs once they graduate,” says the spokesperson.

You too can help
Running primarily on grants provided by HM King Hamad, the Royal Charity Organisation is seldom short on funds. However, every effort on part of each donor, no matter how small, is highly appreciated. A case in point is a young student from British School who raised BD300 last year selling cupcakes at her school and donated the proceeds to the RCO.

“We provide a “thank you” note and a receipt for every donation made, but money is not the objective here. If people organising events in Bahrain would be kind enough to reserve a few tickets for orphans and underprivileged children, that would be a great gift as well,” suggests the spokesperson.

Anyone wishing to donate or help may call 17 313-666 or write to info@osc.gov.bh

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