Influencing Changemaking Through Media

In conversation with Media Personality and Ambadassor The Fred Hollows Foundation, Fatima Alward Aldarmaki.
Influencing Changemaking Through Media

This interview is a part of Ananke’s special edition celebrating The Fred Hollows Foundation’s 30 years of change making in the fields of eye health and development. The Special Edition can be viewed here.

 Let us begin by you telling us about yourself? 

I am a simple, hardworking, and optimistic person who loves to help others. I always strive for integrity, perfection, and success.

With your immense body of work as a media personality and influencer, what are some of the highlights of your stellar career? 

Currently I´m working for Abu Dhabi Media and specifically as a journalist for Al-Ittihad Newspaper. I have more than 15 years of experience as a news anchor and previously hosted a number of local programs at Sama Dubai, Dubai Channel, Emarat TV and Abu Dhabi TV; not only covering local news but also regional and foreign affairs.

I was one of the first Emirati female anchors who specialized in covering financial and economic news. In fact, I was the only female in a male dominated workplace. Currently I am a member at UAE Journalists Association, Federation of Arab Journalists as well as the International Federation of Journalists. I was awarded the Best Anchor in Yas Excellence Award for 2019. I was nominated for “outstanding employee” award in Dubai Government Excellence Award 2009. I won the first place in Habib Al Reda Award for Media Creativity for the year 2007. Furthermore, I was the first Emirati to who published a post-graduate research on Expo 2020 Dubai. And one of my work experiences that I´m most proud of is my extensive media coverage of eye health projects in North Africa over the years of 2018 and 2019.

You have been appointed recently to become The Fred Hollows Foundation’s ambassador. Tell us how this relationship began and why? 

To be selected as the first Emirati and the first woman from the Arabian Gulf for this role made me feel extremely happy. I found that it is worth participating and will give me a great opportunity to help in creating a world where no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired. Currently 43 million people around the world are blind and 1.1 billion live with some form of vision loss. About 90 per cent of those affected live in low-income and middle-income countries. Women and girls account for 55 percent of the world’s blind and vision impaired. If we don’t act now by 2050 it is estimated more than 61 million people will be blind. However, The Foundation can fix the problem. More than 90 per cent of vision loss is preventable or treatable and we can address it using existing highly cost-effective interventions. I hope I will play a role to support eye health cause and the Fred Hollows Foundation is giving me the opportunity by allowing me to optimize my influence, media skills and expertise to serve important cause at regional and international levels. The Foundation is a leading international development organization that has restored sight to more than three million people around the world. This helps me invest my influence capacity and use my digital media platforms to introduce the foundation and raise public awareness and education about avoidable blindness and vision loss. That was the first reason why I accepted this role. The second reason is ending vision loss is a cause that is close to my heart. Both of my parents suffered from avoidable blindness and received many surgeries to restore their eyesight. Therefore I would like to help who are in need to access eyecare services.

What does “ending avoidable blindness and vision impaired” mean to Fatima? 

As I mentioned before, this cause is very near to me because those who suffered from vision loss were the closest people to my heart. As an ambassador, I will help to shed light on vision loss and enable people to understand the importance of ending avoidable blindness. I will always strive relentlessly to educate the world about the impact of restoring someone sight.

In addition, it is a very honorable humanitarian work, and I will put all my knowledge and what I know to serve this mission through my personal experience with my parents’ illness, and my professional experience as well as through my media coverage of eye health projects.

Being a media personality and influencer, how can you play an influencing role to contribute to The Foundation’s vision: create a world in which no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired?   

Since I joined the Fred Hollows Foundation last December, I have already started to present everything that highlights the great work of this leading international development organization and one of Australia’s most respected and trusted charities. I have been telling and sharing the story of The Foundation, inequity in eye health, leading causes of blindness, challenges, solutions, and its impact around the world. I utilized my social media platform and conducted interviews with local media outlets. Furthermore, I have been actively participating at The Foundation’s public events, the latest of which was a panel discussion held at Expo 2020 Dubai, titled “Media and Development in the Arab World” where we organized around table with The Foundation and journalists from the Emirates Journalists Association and Pan-Arab media to discuss and debate:

  • The relationship between the media and international development sector: reality, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Creating and shaping development and humanitarian news: Are international organizations a news maker or a source of news?
  • Building the capacities of Arab youth in the field of international development

The panel concluded with important recommendations and solutions to serve the future of international charities, including The Foundation, and how iNGOs should build a comprehensive and sustainable partnership with the national and Arab media in order to address development issues effectively.  

The Foundation is celebrating 30 years of impactful changemaking this year, any last words also focusing that?

I would like to say happy 30th anniversary to our wonderful organization and wish for its continuous success in helping people to see again. I hope together with other ambassadors we will be visiting eye projects soon and share stories and voices from the field to show the impact of restoring someone sight.

Photography by: Ali Obaido

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