The 21st Century Leaders Foundation will honour three women at their inaugural awards ceremony on Friday at Grand Hyatt Doha.
Qataris Eman Ahmed al-Obaidli and Sara Mohamed al-Shamlan, and Palestinian Helen Shehadeh will be the first recipients of the Unsung Hero Award.
The Doha 21st Century Leaders Awards was established this year to mark the humanitarian and environmental achievements of individuals who have made a serious commitment and a significant impact to their chosen cause.
Eman, a retired elementary school teacher, has spent the past seven years engaging the people of Qatar in becoming more aware of children with physical disabilities.
Eman has also raised significant awareness within Qatar for Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare spinal disorder that affects her son Ghanim.
With her son as a constant source of inspiration and with a strong belief in his independence, Eman has founded Ghanim’s Wheelchair Foundation which has donated hundreds of wheelchairs to other special needs societies in the Gulf.
She also started Ghanim’s Sport Club in 2008 to allow both physically disabled and able-bodied children to join in activities as varied as karate, skateboarding and basketball.
In the future, Eman’s vision for Qatar’s community includes independent accessibility for wheelchairs and integrated sport clubs.
The second Unsung Hero award goes to 16-year-old Sara, a student from Qatar Academy, who harnessed her passion of photography to raise awareness of some of the poorer expatriate Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in Qatar.
Initially started for a community service project for school, she documented a number of young children in the Abu Hamour area of Doha and went on to sell the prints in her father’s jewellery shop and at a jewellery exhibition. Sara quickly raised a huge sum that was used to provide the children with a proper education and basic necessities such as shoes and toys.
Daughter of well-known Qatari businessman Mohamed Marzooq al-Shamlan, managing director of Marzooq Al Shamlan & Sons, Sara considers her father a major catalyst for her way of thinking. Sara’s work is supported by the Qatar Charity.
The third recipient of the Unsung Hero award is Helen Shehadeh, a Palestinian woman who at the age of 75 is actively continuing to teach blind students.
At the age of two, Helen herself lost her eyesight overnight as a result of a diphtheria epidemic. In 1981, Helen founded the Al Shurooq School for the Blind which aimed to provide blind and visually impaired children with an appropriate education and equal opportunity, while rehabilitating and integrating them into the local community.
Other award recipients on the night include film stars Josh Hartnett and Sir Ben Kingsley and film-makers Danny Boyle and Christian Colson.
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