Empowering the Pure at Heart

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Aisha Abdulla


From L-R; Hanadi-El Eman, Rana Khatib, Rania Amer and Aisha Abdulla


The women at their workshop


Cancer survivors talk to leading organizations


The survivors gain confidence and belief in themselves

Rania Amer, Aisha Abdulla, Hanadi El-Emam and Rana Khatib found their connection. They all had family members suffering from cancer. What followed was an initiative that aimed to help all cancer survivors find themselves. Yasmeen Maqbool explores their story

It knows not to discriminate. Be it a celebrity, a super star, a politician or a commoner. Egyptian Rania Amer, a media company employee from Dubai, realized from a personal experience that one needs an insurmountable attitude to create a marked dent in the damage this disease creates. With passionate support from her friends Aisha Abdulla (Yemen), Hanadi El-Emam and Rana Khatib (Jordanian), each of whose immediate family members faced this ordeal, the girls decided to become the platform of help. They have set a podium for cancer survivors who have lost their jobs or seek a forced change in career path.

Pure At Heart
Pure Hearts 4 Cancer Placement organisation was initiated in September 2011. According to its founder, Rania, it is an international program designed to empower cancer survivors to become an active member of the society by guiding them to find a suitable employment opportunity.

The program is a much needed springboard for cancer survivors to spearhead into the normal routine of work life. “I experienced how my mom battled cancer. Unfortunately, life changes completely once a person is diagnosed with it. Not only must one deal with battling it; but facing the misconception and injustice of how society deals with the disease. Many people lose their job, insurance, independence and become financially insecure just because they fall ill. I saw how my mom persevered and yearned for life to get normal after the ordeal,” narrates Rania. “It is challenging when opportunities are not provided and so the idea and vision of Pure Heart evolved.

I believe it is important to recognize and embrace diversity, to address and tackle the challenges created by cancer and not ignore it. By addressing issues in our society and taking action, gradual changes will
eventually happen towards enhancing our society’s welfare. However, the key players must ready to make the change.

Rania explains, “We try to be the connection between aspiring cancer survivors and companies on the look for prospective candidates. We help them reintegrate into the workforce to lead an independent life.”

Rania realizes the challenges ready to meet them in their face, of them the misconceptions and fears that companies hold in against the cancer survivors, is most attention seeking. Citing from the research carried out by Dr Michael Feueristein, author of Occupational Rehabilitation Journal and Cancer Survivors and Work Journal, she brings to light that work is the third most important aspect of judging the quality of life for a cancer survivor and sixth for those free of cancer, as work is regarded as a mark of complete recovery.“Unfortunately, the effect of cancer and its treatment would cause one to change his/her line of work, alter employment position and opportunity, cause chronic symptoms as fatigue that would limit them to work only part time. Thus she questions, “How imperative is it to support cancer survivors and get them back into the workforce for a conscious society?” According to World Health Organisation by 2030 cancer will have become an epidemic with 22 million new cases being reported daily – a true global burden!

Reaching Out
Pure Heart 4 Cancer program targets market leaders who have corporate social responsibility set in place to help with job replacement for cancer survivors, opportunity for companies to select a qualified candidate and build better network through the annual job fairs. “We have more than 70 registered candidates and five companies who are our active partners that include: Majid Al- Futtaim, Aramex, Bayt, Thomson Reuters and Al Wafa’a Group at the job fair.

Through May of this year, they designed a one day workshop at a company site to engage the cancer survivors in the professional work environment. In October numerous workshops will be held to provide an opportunity for networking. Companies assessing the performance of cancer survivors when job shadowing, will give both parties the opportunity to build a relationship and better insight.

Working with DCC
Pure Heart 4 Cancer works closely with Dubai Chamber of Commerce to collaborate all charitable/ not for profit and volunteer programs in the UAE to raise awareness. The audience targeted will be top organizations engaged in CSR programs. This initiative provides the companies with an opportunity to know about all the cancer activities available and how they can get involved.

Work Space
“We have also developed an interactive web-based job platform, thanks to the unrelenting support from Al Wafa’a Group. Here we allow cancer survivors to register with us and upload their medical records, then contact them with job opportunities. With the online job placement facility, they can use this as an all- year- round prospect. It also allows companies to review CVs of candidates and candidates can apply directly to available positions,” says Rania. “Besides, through our existing partners we request them to help us ally and reach out to other companies. This way we can extend our reach and resources at the same time.” Pure Heart is also partnering with research companies to carry out research in the region to better understand the relationship between cancer and work.

She further explains that whether you have been inflicted with cancer yourself, or you have experienced a loved one go through this ordeal or you are simply an individual wanting to participate in this noble cause, we welcome every little gesture which can help further this cause.

Spread the Word
Send in cancer survivors referrals. Spread the word and communicate Pure Heart can be reached at http:// www.purehearttoday.com Convince your employer to help. Check with your company’s human resources department to see if they can contribute by providing with potential job opportunities for cancer survivors as part of their CSR program. Spread the word around to your friends and relatives to create a general awareness in case they know of potential employers or cancer survivor who is looking to get back to the workforce. Connecting with Healthcare professionals as Dubai Health Authority, Abu Dhabi Health Authority (SEHA), Al Tawa’am Hospital and the American Hospital- Dubai; companies, researchers and media will help create a ripple in the direction towards buildinga more productive society and easing off the global burden.