All for a good cause


All for a good cause

CORRIE TEN Boom, the Dutch-Christian Nazi holocaust survivor, once said: “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

By Layla Haroon

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Published: Tue 5 Aug 2008, 11:58 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:48 PM

Likewise, for Mouna Ouni nothing is more remarkable than a donation. “A donation of just a single book can make a difference for an individual….or maybe for a community,” she says.

Mouna’s birth in Tunisia, and her subsequent life in Sousa, Italy and UAE has nurtured this attitude in her.

She has also volunteered for the international humanitarian aid organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

“Although I wanted to become a full fledged lawyer since my childhood, I graduated in journalism and media communication at IPSI College,”

recalls Mouna. “I started off working in Tunisia as a TV reporter and later as a sport news presenter. Due to some unfavourable conditions, along with my colleagues, I left to seek another job.

Luckily I got a contract to work in UAE as Media Executive in an advertising company and in the meantime as a volunteer and a PR officer in MSF (Medecins Sans Frontiers).”

And it was there that she gained her love for charity work. “As a PR manager and also an event coordinator in charge of planning, coordinating, and evaluating special events related to charity work, I was required to conduct fund-raising activities in order to diversify MSF Funds through events, sponsorships, partnerships and other ethically acceptable activities,” says Mouna.

“As a volunteer, we had to convince people to donate money to help us achieve our aims. Surprisingly many of them were quite reluctant to contribute to the needy.

Some preferred to donate to people of their nationality or religion only, while others were satisfied with giving alms in their home country.

Nevertheless, we were at times successful in making them contribute to charity.”

“I think now UAE residents, both nationals and non nationals, are more educated about humanitarian work,” says Mouna. “They now contribute to other international organisations in UAE, not to just local ones.”

A cause close to her heart

Mouna states that working with the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was quite a pleasing experience since she was doing what she loved.

In UAE, an MSF regional office was created under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan in 1991 to raise awareness and funds for its field activities.

MSF volunteers, Mouna says, each have a story to tell when they return from their missions.

“They travel to places that many people have never heard of, to assist those who have fallen victim to natural or manmade disasters. One of my colleagues, Gadha, once volunteered in Darfur and she was down in the dumps on her return seeing the non-existent health structure there. Another colleague, Taher, suffered psychological depression after volunteering to visit Iraq during 1991.

“It is not easy. Although my volunteering work was limited to UAE, I could understand their emotional state.”

“My colleague Abdullah is a security guard at the Capital Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

After his night shift, he used to come up the next day morning to MSF centre to be of assistance in our programmes. His fervent belief was that sparing two or three hours of his rest to people - who need it – will not take away his life.”

“An Arabic woman used to volunteer her knowledge of Arabic language. Can you believe people being philanthropic to such a degree?

I mean it is so much easier to donate money than to donate your time.”

“I learnt a lesson: there is no justification for not making a worthy difference. I now educate my children, my colleagues in Sheraton and my friends to offer their help for a good cause.”

In the course of her vocation in Sheraton, Abu Dhabi, Mouna works with local organisations, supporting their missions as much as possible.

“We have a ‘Check Out for Children’ programme with UNICEF,” she adds.

“It is a partnership between Starwood Hotels & Resorts and UNICEF,” explains Mouna.

With the complexities of life and work, donating some help — financially or physically — might be difficult for many; however, you never know when your ‘one’ help can actually make someone’s life.

“I believe that charity is not for any religion, it is for humans — solely for humanity,” concludes Mouna with a smile.


Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries.

MSF relies on donations from individuals for the majority of its income, allowing the freedom to respond independently to the greatest needs as fast as possible.

Events are a great way to lend your support to medical emergency work. They help to increase awareness of some of the world’s most neglected emergencies and the plight of many forgotten populations. Events also raise money for MSF’S work, which is very important – MSF can only work in the places they do because of the independence that volunteers support brings them.

As a small fundraising team, MSF does not organise fundraising events on its own. However, many of their supporters choose to support MSF through organising their own event.

In the past MSF has benefited from garden parties, sponsored bike rides, swimming and marathon challenges, fun runs, and jazz evenings, to name just a few! If you wish to discuss your event/idea you can contact MSF, UAE in Dubai on 04-345 81 77 and in Abu Dhabi on 02- 631 7645 or by email at


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