Harper's Bazaar Arabia: How does THB support regional communities? And why is it important for you to do so?
Jumana Al Darwish: I come from a family of philanthropists and worked in this sector for over 10 years. I live and breath it. Once I became an entrepreneur I knew that The Happy Box had to have a giving component to it, or I would always feel like something is missing. Hence, The Happy Hearts Giving Program was introduced during the holy month of Ramadan in 2015. The Happy Box has adopted a 1 for 1 model, where for every happy box purchased we donate a box to a child in need globally. We’ve worked in over five countries (Nepal, India, Egypt, Amman, Zaatari Camp in Jordan, and the UAE) and helped distribute thousands of boxes to date. Our trip to Egypt was made possible through the generous support we received from UAE property developer The First Group who have a very impressive giving portfolio and charitable mandate. We are very lucky and proud to call them our partners.
HBA: Why did you decide to visit Cairo on this trip?
JAD: I first visited Egypt whilst working for Dubai Cares and we conducted a full country needs assessment over the course of 10 days. I met with incredible NGOs at that time and got a chance to really understand the need in Egypt, specifically in Cairo. Despite its massive population, there lies numerous poverty pockets across the city. I always wanted to start my own giving programme and knew that when the time was right I would visit Cairo once again and help the communities in need.
HBA: What did you hope to bring to the community?
JAD: Our mandate is to spread happiness amongst all, irrespective of age, gender, social status or race – happiness should truly be universal. On all of our happy hearts trips we give out educational kits to underprovided children. Though considered a small gesture, at the end of the day we’ve made them smile and that goes a long way. We have plans to make our interventions more long-term and sustainable in the future.
HBA: On a trip like this, do you reach out to community members ahead of time? How do you decide which locations to visit?
JAD: Given my previous work experience and educational background in the philanthropic sector I have personal contacts in the NGO community who I have had the privilege of visiting and witnessing the impact of their interventions first hand. We always work with NGOs that are credible and transparent and make the connection prior to arranging our visit. Locations are aligned to our strategic plan and are based on need , accessibility and safety.
We worked with two incredible NGOs in Cairo: APE Association for the Protection of the Environment - Hay Al Zabaleen (which offers the children of the garbage collectors’ community educational programmes) and Tawasol for Developing Istabl Antar (a school that offers academic and vocational programmes for underprivileged children).
HBA: What was the best moment of the trip for you?
JAD: Knowing that I have touched a little one’s heart. Children of disadvantaged communities are incredibly resilient. Together with the support of the community, we can create positive change and impact their lives. I pray for a better and safe future for them all.
Scroll through our gallery above for exclusive images from the trip, and click here for more information on The Happy Box.