Every month Moon Community Club profiles a cause that is close to our hearts. This month, we’re spending time getting to know more about the Al-Bayda’a Association, which was established in February 2017 with a mission to help develop and empower the villages of Al-Bayda’a Center.
Her Highness Princess Nouf bint Fahd bin Khalid Al Saud heads up a group of 21 princes, businessmen and leaders in this noble initiative, which focuses its efforts around the concept of sustainable urban development. What does that mean exactly? We asked the Association to tell us more…
‘The first misconception is that Al-Bayda’a is a charity organisation – it’s not,’ says its business development and programme development consultant Nadeen Rasim. In fact, the Association’s work is far more about setting up the basic infrastructure and development programs that contribute to empowering individuals and families and improving their quality of life.
To this end, the wider strategy feeds into all areas of the region’s wellbeing – be it economic, social, health or cultural – to build long-term benefits.
But the Al-Bayda’a Association didn’t just rise out of nowhere – it was established in response to the strategic plan for the wider Makkah region, launched by advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Governor of Makkah Al-Mukarramah Prince Khaled Al-Faisal. A plan that called for a two-axis approach: ‘building the people and building the place’.
What does this look like in a specific region, such as the Al-Bayda’a Center and affiliated villages? Well, it’s about helping residents who live outside urban areas to develop their own community, utilising a set of initiatives that have been designed to build their individual (and collective) skills and capabilities.
Planting the seeds of change
‘Community development means developing the members of the community served by the association, and helping them find creative, sustainable solutions to their problems,’ says Nadeen Rasim.
As such, the Association functions in myriad ways – whether acting as caseworkers who assess and address the needs of individuals and families, aligning resources in order to respond to the community’s most pressing needs, researching the root causes of any local challenges to help develop community programmes, or taking on the role of project managers to ensure programs are implemented correctly to achieve their intended goals.
Additionally, you’ll find them advocating for the Al-Bayda’a Center on a larger stage, forming partnerships and collaborations with NPOs (non-profit organisations) or calling for policy changes at a governmental level in order to drive community transformation and development still further.
The work the association does really is diverse and far-reaching, and there are numbers to back this up; the team meets weekly to track and discuss changes and challenges, measuring the performance of the operational plan and making any necessary adjustments to improve the wellbeing and quality of life for the Al-Bayda’a Center’s local population.
Everything comes back to the community – its current health status, economic situation, educational standings and living conditions are clear indicators of what is (or occasionally isn’t) working well for them.
It might sound like a lot, but all of this analysis has a positive, stepping-stone-like effect: equipping local individuals and families with the knowledge, resources and capacity to take greater control of their circumstances helps to build their confidence in their abilities to overcome any barriers that do arise and, in doing so, participate directly in the continued improvement of their community.
Working together to build a bright future
Despite the ‘young age’ of the association, and the recent challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Al-Bayda’a Association has many success stories to share. Over the past two years, it has trained more than 40 young people from the Al-Bayda’a Center, empowering each in different ways.
For instance, two young women who followed the path to become trainers for mother-and-children education programs are now sharing what they themselves learnt by training women in other villages, or the young pioneers who started their own projects – for example one young man selling vegetables in the vegetable market and another who started a livestock business. On a slightly larger scale, there are the 30 women who have learnt to produce a variety of handcrafted and embroidered products.
Individually these are, of course, wonderful stories. Seen together, as part of something bigger, they paint a picture of a community that is investing in itself (with the help of training programs and initiatives) to move confidently towards an empowered future.
How you can get involved
The association has a large base of individual and institutional supporters and, additionally, there are those who donate money or volunteer their time, experience, or knowledge. Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds – from school students to doctors, engineers and university professors to businessmen – and carry out a variety of functions, including supervisory work, food distribution, offering training programs, or professional medical treatment.
If you wish to support the work of the Al-Bayda’a Association – whether financially or with your time (as a volunteer) – you can find out more by visiting albaydha.org.sa.