You’re only 17, yet have achieved some remarkable things. Tell us about yourself.
I’m from the UK, but I’ve lived in Dubai since 2007, so mostly it seems like home.
How did you build up awareness for Aqua Initiative?
Technically we aren’t a registered organisation, and we are not completely a registered charity yet. This is because I am only 17. But next year when I turn 18, we will be able to make Aqua Initiative a registered organization. At the moment, we are just trying to raise awareness and funds.
How much cash have you raised so far?
This year we’ve already raised Dhs40,000. In total, from events we’ve held in the past, we’ve made and donated Dhs100,000.
Who exactly are you raising money for?
A number of places. This is actually the first year we have donated to major charities like Water Aid. The problem was that we had no idea where the money was going, so we had switch to different charities. Now we are most likely to donate our raised funds to small charities like The Women’s Hinterland Foundation, which is based in India and Bangladesh.
How does it feel to win the Open Heart’s Award?
It was unbelievable and a great honour to win this, especially considering it’s been given to charities like the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which won last year. To be placed at a level alongside all these great organizations is a huge thing for us. It also means people will now be able to recognise the hard work that we do.
What have you got planned this year?
It’s my last year of school, so I will not be focusing on any projects for a few months as I will be studying. In summer I’ll also be busy applying for admissions to UK universities. But I have been trying to speak to politicians who are from the UK and hopefully we might get them on board to support the Aqua Initiative. I’m hoping we can set up the organisation over there, too.
Do you think that spending so much time doing charity work is worth it?
Definitely! I am still really young and haven’t reached my full potential yet. But I see how lucky I am to be living in this luxurious part of the world and not suffering like so many other people do. When I go to university and get a degree then hopefully I will try to arrange charity events myself in the future.
How do you juggle running a charity and your school work?
Managing my time is really difficult, especially this year. But in previous years, it was actually alright. March was tough as we had a lot of events. Other than that, it just means I have to plan time for school work.
What kinds of challenges did you face when you planned events during World Water Day?
World Water Day was very successful on the whole, but problems actually occurred, happened because it was too popular this year! The bungee trampoline was so popular that there were too many kids coming and it was quite difficult to give them all a fair turn.
For more information, contact Edward through www.theaquainitiative.com