Emirates Donors Save African Children’s Hearts

The Emirates Partners of the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation, WSPCF, was launched in Dubai in the presence of WSPCF’s Global Patron HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The four founding Emirates Partners – Dubai Duty Free; Atlantis The Palm Resort; KPMG UAE; and the South African Business Council of Dubai – all pledged their commitment to the Foundation, which raises funds for lifesaving surgery for indigent African children with congenital heart defects.

The WSPCF was founded in 2003 to provide lifesaving surgery to underprivileged African children born with congenital heart disorders. It raises money to pay for surgeries to correct these heart defects, and to develop diagnostic, surgery and treatment capacity skills in medical teams that look after children who have heart conditions.

One out of every 100 children born globally is born with a heart defect, according to Mrs Lynda Bleazard, the CEO of the WSPCF.

“Ninety-five percent of these defects can be easily corrected with surgery, but only 1% of African children have access to any form of medical funding to pay the approximately US$20,000 that it costs to save their lives,” she says. “There are more than 350,000 children in Africa who need surgery to fix their hearts – and their families simply do not have the money to pay for it.”

The Foundation was established as a living legacy to the late Walter Sisulu, one of South African former President Nelson Mandela’s closest friends, and a leading icon in South Africa’s struggle for democracy. Mr. Mandela is also a patron of the Foundation.

“My parents were leaders in our country’s struggle for democracy, but they always remained humble and focused on making a difference in the lives of ordinary people,” said Mr. Mlungisi Sisulu, son of Walter and Albertina Sisulu and the Chairman of the WSPCF, who travelled to Dubai to attend the launch.

“I promised my mother before she died earlier this year that we would do everything to continue the work of the Foundation. It is through global partnerships like these forged with the four founding Emirates Partners that we will continue the Sisulu legacy of serving the people who need our help the most. We thank these first four Partners for their vision and commitment to save the lives of African children.”

“We call on the leaders of business and industry in Dubai to join the four founding partners to join as sponsors to save African children’s lives,” Mr Sisulu continued. “These partnerships will save the lives of the children on the waiting lists that we already have, and they will contribute to global medical knowledge of paediatric heart healthcare. Their impact will be felt far beyond the realm of the African continent for many years to come.”

Mrs. Bleazard is visiting Dubai to celebrate the launch the Emirates Partners network, and to expand the reach of the WSPCF by building sponsorship partnerships with local companies and individuals.

“It is our commitment to our partners to provide constant feedback on the surgeries that have been funded by our existing sponsorship partners, many of whom have supported us since our inception,” says Mrs Bleazard. “We commit to providing that constant feedback to our Emirate partners, so that they can understand the tremendous impact that their life-giving donations will have.”

The Emirates Partners of the WSPCF has been accredited by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Departments, and is the Dubai-based organization that will work with the WSPCF to raise funds from donors in Dubai to continue its lifesaving work. The fundraising campaign is sponsored by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian & Charity Establishment.


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