What is Awasser Back to the Roots Foundation? Can they help me?
Were you married and have children with a Saudi man and live in a poor country? Do you want to become a citizen of Saudi Arabia with your children?
Here are a few articles from the Arab news about the foundation and who they help.
Awasser extends all support to Saudi families abroad
RIYADH: Chairman of the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad Tawfiq Abdul Aziz Al-Suwailem highlights the role of his organization in helping children born of Saudi fathers in foreign countries. “We provide for all their needs, such as a monthly assistance, winter clothing allowance, school assistance, housing and airplane tickets for those who want to return home,” he says in an exclusive interview with Abdul Hannan Tago in Riyadh.
Tawfiq Abdul Aziz Al-Suwailem, chairman of the Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasser), has said that his organization provides all procedural and legal assistance free of charge to the abandoned Saudi families living abroad.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Suwailem, who is also economic consultant of Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic Consultation, said the assistance is available to Saudi families whose children are from a Saudi father who married a foreign woman but could not look after them for various reasons.
According to Al-Suwailem, Awasser provides this assistance through the Saudi Foreign Affairs Ministry under the supervision of Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, in line with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s directive to extend support to his people wherever they may be and help them come back to the country.
The organization also grants financial support, winter allowance and school assistance to these children living abroad and includes them in King Abdullah’s scholarship program.
Awasser, the first and only Saudi charitable organization authorized for these services, has now compiled full data of those children in 26 countries, including the United States, Canada, the Philippines, India, Indonesia and large numbers of them in Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
According to Awasser, these numbers are increasing rapidly because of the modern technology, the use of social network communication and the quick processing of their papers.
The program managed to reach out to 900 families by the end of 2011, consisting of 2,387 persons living in 26 countries around the world. So far, Awasser has spent SR11 million on them.
Following is the text of the interview:
Your organization is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, specializing in the welfare of abandoned Saudi families. Can you tell us more about it?
The Charitable Organization for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad or Awasser is licensed and supervised by the Ministry of Interior. Awasser works solely and specifically for Saudi families living abroad and traces Saudi citizens all over the world. They are now under our care, and we are trying our best to provide assistance to the children of our country that, due to certain circumstances, were forced to stay outside the Kingdom. They need our assistance, welfare and supervision.
We provide for all their needs, such as a monthly assistance, winter clothing allowance, school assistance, housing, and airplane tickets for those who want to return home. We also provide them legal assistance to issue their Saudi identity cards and renew their passports.
Awasser also helps to include them in King Abdullah’s scholarship programs, and sometimes we recommend them to work for Saudi companies and our embassies in these countries.
When did you establish Awasser?
It was established in 2001 under a royal decree. The board of directors, which is elected every three years, consists of businessmen and retired personalities who are working voluntarily without official payment. They are merely rendering services to our country, because our country has provided us everything from our childhood. So this is considered as social responsibility. Allah always blesses those who work for humanitarian services.
Our objective is to find out the broken or abandoned families abroad and provide them a hand of assistance and all kinds of welfare.
Awasser aims to provide all necessary requirements for their return to the country and coordinates with the government, private institutions and NGOs working for charity to provide all their needs. We also carry out the relevant research and studies, especially on getting married outside and the negative effects of these imbalanced relations. We help them in all legalization procedures, including issuance of their Saudi identity cards and follow up with them.
How do you recognize these children? What are the procedures you follow to find them?
We find them through a number of procedures via our embassies. We do teamwork with our embassies and visit these families in their respective places. We ask about their parents, their papers and their financial status. We go to these embassies and tell them that we have this person who needs assistance from us.
We also trace them through our website, which is visited by hundreds of them. We exchange information with them and answer all their inquiries online, we provide them all necessary information they need and finish their papers on the same day. We also have awareness campaigns to introduce our activities to the people. We make sure that our assistance reaches all deserving family equally, without discrimination. We provide assistance without bias and based on their needs, whether they are a family or individual.
How many families have so far benefited from Awasser services and in which countries?
At present, we have 29 countries in which 3,100 people have benefited from our services. Our priorities are Gulf countries, Arab states, the US and Canada, Asian countries and Africa. Awasser spent SR11 million in 2011 and around SR4 million since the beginning of this year. We are targeting to spend a total of SR10 million for assistance this year as per the directives of King Abdullah and instructions of the crown prince. King Abdullah sometimes gives an extra amount for the same purposes.
The largest numbers of beneficiaries are now in Syria, where 280 families live, followed by Egypt, where we have 218 families consisting of 496 members, Kuwait (123/455), Bahrain (104/455), Jordan (70/234) and Lebanon (19/56).
Among the non-Arab countries, the Philippines has the highest number of Saudi families (16 families comprising 26 members). Second is the US (9/27), and third India.
How about the families in non-Arab countries that became completely attached to their mother culture? What do you do with those in the Philippines, for instance?
We conducted many visits to the Philippines and our embassy in Manila for this. We keep in touch with them. In a personal capacity, my brother goes there frequently and does a lot of humanitarian services.
What would happen to these children if their brothers in Saudi Arabia denied them their rights?
There are some Saudis who marry outside Saudi Arabia without the knowledge of their family. Then, when their children from abroad emerge, their brothers in Saudi Arabia refuse to accept them. That’s where the dispute begins.
It is a mistake to keep this secret, because in case of death these children abroad may not take their share if their Saudi brothers do not recognize them. This is, of course, not allowed in our Shariah, as all biological children should get their share equally from the left properties. They may also not get citizenship. Awasser acts as middlemen in these cases and goes to the concerned authority to help resolving these problems.
How about the children living in the Kingdom with their parents who could not get citizenship?
We are only working for families living outside Saudi Arabia.
Our jurisdiction and the scope of our services is outside the country. The people we assist don’t need attorneys; they come to us or contact us through our website and follow the given guidelines. We provide legal assistance to get their identification cards, we support them financially and make them from consumers to productive citizens.
How about those who are not bearing Saudi passports? Are they included in your services?
We serve them and do what is needed for them. We have contacts at the Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries, who can help them to legalize their status. People don’t do this procedure themselves; we do it for them. We are the official entity that does all requirements without any charge.
How can anybody approach Awasser for help?
They can contact us directly on our website: http://www.awasser.org.sa. We communicate with 92 Saudi embassies across the world to find out about any abandoned Saudi families in these countries. We did awareness campaigns on the negative effects of getting married outside the Kingdom.
The research we conducted revealed some financial and social problems including big financial needs the wives sometimes require, like accommodation, car, travel expenses, tickets and gifts for them and their relatives.
With regard to the social negative effects, many communities who allow their daughters to marry foreigners are from poor communities and uneducated. This creates differences in education and culture. The children who are living outside have different values, traditions and cultural background. Daughters are more affected by this phenomenon, as they do not know what their culture is and where they belong. Their children do not know whose culture they should follow — the father’s or the mother’s.
Sociologists and rights activists have warned young Saudi men of the negative social and economic consequences of their marriages to foreign women. They also warned that the practice increases the number of unmarried women in the Kingdom.
To avoid problems, those who seek foreign wives are advised to first obtain official permission. Some Saudis travel to foreign countries with the intention of entering into temporary marriages. At the end of their vacation, they divorce their wives.
This practice shows their disrespect for family values. They do this for temporary personal enjoyment, but they don’t think about its negative consequences. It will definitely affect their family life.
By ABDUL HANNAN TAGO
Search widens for kids abandoned by Saudi fathers overseas
By Joe Avancena
DAMMAM – The search for children born to foreign women and Saudi fathers overseas will be extended to all corners of the world to let these children know that although they have been abandoned by their Saudi fathers, Saudi Arabia is their country and they have not been forgotten, said Najeed A. R. Al-Zamil, founder of the Back to the Roots Foundation, a non-government organization that seeks out and supports such children.
“The Back to the Roots program of the foundation will soon launch a global search for these children to identify them, investigate their status and condition, and find ways to help and care for them if need be,” Al-Zamil said.
Al-Zamil established the Back to the Roots Foundation five years ago with a search for the children of Saudi fathers in the Philippines. In that country the foundation uncovered 60 sons and daughters of Saudi fathers who possess documents to prove their Saudi parentage.
“We know that there are at least 100 more of these children in the Philippines fathered by Saudis but without documentation to establish that they are the sons and daughters of Saudis. Nevertheless, the foundation will reach out to them,” he said.
According to Al-Zamil, the sons and daughters of Saudis in the Philippines have organized themselves, seeking, among other goals, the recognition and legitimization of their status as Saudis. The Back to the Roots program in the Philippines is headed by Shareefa Albinali who now works as administrative assistant at the Saudi Royal Embassy in Manila.
Al-Zamil said the global search for Saudi children is now supported by Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior. “Prince Naif has given his full support to the foundation and we will soon meet and finalize the global search program,” Al-Zamil said.
According to Al-Zamil, news about the pioneering work of the foundation is spreading around the world.
“I have received letters and inquiries about our foundation from interested individuals from places such as Moscow, Siberia and Iceland. Many of our male population have indeed successfully spread their parenthood in far-flung continents of the world,” Al-Zamil pointed out.
According to Al-Zamil, the largest concentration of children of Saudi fathers born to foreign women overseas is in Egypt where there are over 400,000 of them. “In Syria there are over 100,000 children who are the sons and daughters of Saudis.
There are also such children in countries like Morocco, Tunisia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and in Western countries including the United States,” Al-Zamil said. – SG __
We met Mr. Abdullah Al Homod the CEO of a Saudi organization called Awasser to learn more about what the organization does and how they operate on a global scale.
To understand Awasser’s work, let’s assume that a Saudi citizen traveled abroad for business, pleasure, or even study, and that he found himself in a situation where he had to get married. Now let’s imagine that this person left that country to return to Saudi Arabia, leaving behind a spouse, who might be pregnant without knowing it at the time of the separation. This is where Awasser comes in and tries to find those Saudi abandoned children who are stranded away from their fathers and country. Since they are Saudis, Awasser takes on the task to educate them, help them, and provide means to return them home and reconnect Saudi citizens abroad to their family ties in Saudi Arabia. This simply makes Awasser a very unique organization.
Once Awasser finds and confirms the existence of a Saudi child abroad, they investigate the case, to make sure that the child is the son or daughter of a Saudi citizen. After that, Awasser contacts the father in Saudi Arabia, notifying him about the situation. While this process takes place, the organization transfers a monthly financial allowance to cover all the essential needs of that child until the situation is resolved. “As a Saudi, this child deserves our support till we get him or her back home,” affirms Mr. Abdullah Al Homod.
Moral & Social Support:
In some situations, the child or family might not need any financial support. However what might be most needed is moral and sentimental support, or perhaps just to know that their country cares about them; this is another area Awasser aims to cover, by creating an uninterrupted connection with needy Saudi families while abroad. When the family returns home, Awasser maintains a connection to ensure that the new family is comfortable and settling well in their new surrounding. “We even have classes and camps to prepare them to fit right into the Saudi society, and learn how to blend in to become part of it,” adds Mr. Abdullah Al Homod.
The support Awasser provides is extended to providing any type of health or medical aid to any Saudi child or his/ her mother while away from home. “The fact that they are away from Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean they can’t get good medical attention. We’ll make sure they get the best treatment available wherever they are,” promises Mr. Al Homod.
Not only does Awasser help in selecting the best educational institute available in the locality and pay for it, but they also help registering Saudi children in schools and colleges once they are back in Saudi Arabia.
Housing & Relocating:
Once the child and his family return to his or her country, the organization helps them find a home within an area they can adjust to, and settle well in. Awasser even covers the rent for the Saudi family until they manage to reach the level of financial stability which enables them to provide for themselves.
Awasser is currently developing a new website which they hope will help people find their relatives. They are also developing an online form that will speed up the process to reconnect all the Saudi threads together again.