x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Wives make sure Al Ain care centre is not a closed book

A children's storybook compiled by the wives of ambassadors to the UAE has raised more than Dh80,000 for a centre for special- needs children in Al Ain.

Wendy Lewis, the president of the Diplomatic Group for Spouses of Ambassadors, presented proceeds from the book, On the Wings of a Tale, to the Al Ain Care and Rehabilitation Centre. Delores Johnson / The National
Wendy Lewis, the president of the Diplomatic Group for Spouses of Ambassadors, presented proceeds from the book, On the Wings of a Tale, to the Al Ain Care and Rehabilitation Centre. Delores Johnson / The National

A children's storybook compiled by the wives of ambassadors to the UAE has raised more than Dh80,000 for a centre for special- needs children in Al Ain.

The Diplomatic Group for Spouses of Ambassadors yesterday handed over two cheques totalling Dh104,000 to the Al Ain Care and Rehabilitation Centre.

Of that, Dh84,000 came from sales of the book, On the Wings of a Tale, which consists of fables originating from the ambassadors' home countries submitted by 24 of their spouses.

The rest was personal donations. The project was led by Dr Maha Radwan, whose husband Tamer Mansour is the Egyptian ambassador. She realised the centre was in need of help after visiting it in 2010.

"This project has been two years in the making," she said. "Every year we focus on a charity and this was one of the organisations which most needed our attention.

"We also wanted to direct attention to Al Ain as many programmes and charities are based in the capital."

The centre houses more than 200 students from all over the Gulf and is in the process of expanding. "We will be moving in September to a new facility which will eventually house 500 students and come at a cost of Dh78 million," said the centre's manager, Dr Ahmad Soliman.

"A centre like ours needs the support of many groups such as this one," added Dr Soliman, who has been at the centre for 13 years. "We need the backing of the entire community."

Mrs Souad Mannai, who advises the ambassador's spouses group and whose husband,  Jassim Al Mannai, is president of the Arab Monetary fund, agreed. "Some people think because the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is well off they do not need to contribute," she said. "The Government cannot do everything - the community has to come together for these causes."

In addition to the 24 stories submitted by the ambassador's wives, On the Wings of a Tale includes illustrations from Zayed University alumni. It was edited by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority, and translated into Arabic and English by the Kalima company. It was printed and distributed by the United Printing and Publishing Company.

Among the fables is the Emirati story, The Ghaf Tree, written by Al Ain 9th grader, Fakhera Khalifah,  which is a dialogue between a grandfather and grandson talking about the endangered Emirati tree.

Another story, The Raven and the Whale, was submitted by the president of the ambassadors' spouses group, Wendy Lewis, who is married to Kenneth Lewis, the Canadian ambassador.

"It is an Inuit [an indigenous people of the Arctic] tale that tells the story of spirits guiding and protecting the people and the nation," explained Mrs Lewis.

"The book is a unique idea that we hope will continue to give to the centre," said Dr Soliman.

"We were actually hoping to raise more," said Dr Radwan "but you can be assured all future sales of the book will go the centre."

Magali Horbert, whose husband is the Venezuelan ambassador, added that the group intended to continue promoting the book.

"We are already running out of books and intend to print and sell more," she said.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae