Mehriban Aliyeva: Dedicated to turn tears into smiles

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First Lady of Azerbaijan with the children suffering from cancer.By Hameed Shaheen

Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO is one of those few who has dedicated herself to turn world into a better abode for humanity.Having brought up in the family of prominent intellectuals of Azerbaijan, she inherited respect to human values, love to the poetry, arts and music.Mehriban Aliyeva got actively engaged in philanthropy starting from 1995, when she enlightened the world about her country’s cultural wealth through her charitable foundation “Friends of Azerbaijan Culture”.

In 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva, became the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which was named in commemoration of the National Leader of Azerbaijanis. The main goal of foundation is the country’s social, economic and cultural development.

Culture is one of the priority spheres of Heydar Aliyev Foundation. It was therefore, the Foundation initiated “Days of Azerbaijani Mugham” (Azerbaijani classical music) in Niagara as well as established Mugham Centre in Baku. It has also sponsored performances of Antonio Vivaldi, George Gershwin music and publication of books on culture of Azerbaijan. The annual Gabala Music Festival initiated by Mrs. Aliyeva and which is attended by prominent musicians from all around the globe became one of the major events in World’s musical life.

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The children’s problem is one of the main objectives of Mehriban Aliyeva’s activities. Construction of new schools, hospitals, clinics, musical lyceums, Thalassemia Centre, launching the projects of insulin and blood donation, campaign on breastfeeding, summer camp for integration of disabled children into society are the part of the charitable work in this domain. The regular moral, medical and financial support to destitute elderly is also given.

Azerbaijan, where all religions live in harmony, is a striking example of the tolerant relationship between the representatives of different faiths. The Azerbaijani First Lady organized several international events on dialogue between the different faiths, striving for understanding and peaceful coexistence. A number of mosques, Catholic and the Orthodox churches were reconstructed by foundation as a part of the “Azerbaijan – Home to Tolerance” project of the organization.

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Mehriban Aliyeva is enormously active in preservation of the world heritage as well. Reconstruction in 14th century-Strasbourg Cathedral and renovations at Palace of Versailles, establishment of the Islamic Arts Department at Louvre Museum sponsored by Mrs. Aliyeva is a vivid manifestation of this activity.

This was due to Mehriban Aliyeva’s hard efforts for protection and development of Azerbaijan’s verbal folk literature and music heritage, that she was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO in 2004. Also, the title of Goodwill Ambassador of ISESCO was given to her in 2006 for the wide-scale and selfless activity in different spheres of life.

The sports remain in the attention center of the foundation. Due to the growing prestige of Mrs. Aliyeva, who is also a President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, the capital city Baku hosted World Cup competitions 2003 and 2004 and the World Championship 2005 on Rhythmic Gymnastics.

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In 2012, Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision Song Contest which is one of the longest running television shows in the world and the most prestigious contest in Europe. Mehriban Aliyeva lead the organizing committee of contest and within a short span of time the “Baku Cristal” concert hall on the shore of the Caspian Sea was constructed. The specific works aimed at upgrading the urban infrastructure, expansion of communication technologies and improving highways have been fulfilled too. Thus, thousands of guests of Baku witnessed warmth and hospitality of Azerbaijanis and were impressed by rapidly developing Azerbaijan.

The association of Heydar Aliyev Foundation with Pakistan started soon after the devastating earthquake of 2005, when Mehriban Aliyeva had taken an initiative to construct a new school for girls in place of destroyed one in Muzaffarabad. The foundation regularly supplies the school with all necessary means and also pays monthly stipends to 5 deserving students of the school. The 36 more scholarships are paid to the best students of 12 Pakistani Universities too. It is notable that after the complete reconstruction and renovation in 2012, the school was named after the First Lady of Azerbaijan.

Starting from 2012 the First Lady of Azerbaijan initiated a series of healthcare, education and humanitarian projects in all provinces of Pakistan.

Within the plan of action, the hepatitis B vaccination, check up and treatment were carried out at Edhi Home, Akbar Care Institute for Cerebral Palsy in Peshewar and Women’s and Children Hospital in Lakki Marwat. The foundation also donated fully equipped ambulance and thousands of blood collection bags to Hamza Foundation, which deals with safe blood transfusion to the beneficiaries on both sides of Durand Line .

In course of its activity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mrs. Aliyeva also made a financial assistance for the construction of a new block and waiting rooms of Eye Hospital of Khyber Eye Foundation.

During the holy month of Ramazan in 2012- 2014, the foundation hosted iftars to beneficiaries of Pakistan Sweet Home and other orphanages in all four provinces of Pakistan. During the same period the Foundation also carried out action on Eid ul Adha, distributing meat of hundreds of animals to the people of KPK, Punjab, and earthquake hit Baluchistan.

In 2014 the Foundation inaugurated Heydar Aliyev Water Supply Scheme of Tank district of DIK, KPK. As a result of that thousands of inhabitants of that area got access to the pure drinking water.

No doubts, activity of Azerbaijan’s First Lady in Pakistan serves to further strengthen and deepen brotherly relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

It is remarkable that due to her activity in Pakistan, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of “Symbol of Humanity, “Woman of 2012” by “Women Volunteers Organization” and “Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Excellence Award” in 2013. This was solid addition to the previous awards of Azerbaijani First Lady. Those are the French Legion of Honor, “Ruby Cross” Order of International Charity Foundation of Russia, prize of WHO, Golden Heart International Award, Grand Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, UNESCO`s Mozart Gold Medal, Canadian «World Golden Rose Award » and others.