“The Center helped us to pay for our children’s school fees when my husband and I were both unemployed. We have three children and education is the only capital we can offer to them to build their future. Thanks to the Center’s network, my husband and I found new jobs. Today, we can take care of our household expenses again… We can assure that our children continue studying.”
GHADA TANNOUS, Mother of a family sustained by La Libanaise
Throughout its history, Lebanon has gone through alternating periods of political stability and turmoil. Its last war, with Israel, took place in 2006. The war left 4,500 people injured and killed approximately 1,200, a third of which were children. Moreover, the war caused considerable economic losses due to the interruption of all productive activities and damages to the main infrastructures.
In the last 2 years the situation has become unstable again, due to neighboring Syria’s internal conflicts risking to spread unrest across the entire Middle Eastern Region. This precarious environment negatively impacts the country’s education system and obviously, children’s growth.
The events of the last few years have only worsened what was already a dire situation: public schools are being reduced or are almost nonexistent in some regions and offer a sub-standard level of instruction. Consequentially, many families send their children to costly private schools that offer a higher standard of education (66% of all students have either gone to private or semi-private schools subsidized by the State in 2009 and 2010).
The project was conceived to meet pressing tangible and intangible needs of the most vulnerable Lebanese children and their families. The project started in 1998 in Jounieh, a city 10 km north of Beirut, with the establishment of the Jean Paul II Center. The center’s activities address both psychosocial and material needs of families living in the area. Since its establishment, the center has been able to assist 300 children and their families.
AVSI (Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale)
La Libanaise – Femme du 31 Mai
This project helps children and their families through psychosocial support, educational support and economic support. The project assists children in public schools by covering not only the costs of books, materials and registration fees, but also by organizing certification courses for teachers, tutoring and helping children with their homework. With occasional and focused aid, the urgent needs of children and their families are taken care of, guaranteeing food, fuel, medicine or the payment overdue rent.
Through socio-cultural assistance, children have a chance to participate in cultural, educational or recreational activities with their families. Given their unstable financial situation, this kind of activities would normally be impossible for them. All types of interventions geared towards the children actually involve the entire family, who also receive additional personalized psychosocial guidance and support.
The project has improved the psychosocial well-being, the education and the life quality of 305 children. It has also strengthened their families’ capacities, helping them take responsibility for their children and ensure their care and growth. Furthermore, the project has kept the social and economic vulnerability of these families in check.
Currently, more than 200 children receive direct financial support to pay for school fees or meet basic needs, while others are assisted by social workers through tailored educational and psychosocial programs.
Beneficiaries are divided into four groups. The first two groups include families who live in Fanar, on the outskirts of Beirut, and several other areas, including Ghadir, a village near Jounieh. These families are guaranteed financial support (mostly school and textbooks fees), and are provided with a safe space to receive advice and psychosocial support.
The third group targets children living in the village of Debbieh, located in the Chouf region, south-east of Beirut. It is a war-torn, disaster and displacement area, with severe social problems arising from the clash of the various faiths present. Through the joys of playing, cooperating and learning, we strive to help this new generation of children live their political and religious differences positively, while encouraging their return to their original communities. At the end of 2009, a center was set up to develop various educational and recreational activities to benefit the local community. The center helps beneficiaries find economic opportunities and promotes the healthy coexistence of the different religious communities.
Finally, the fourth group was created based on the Orphanage of Saint Charbel of Harissa’s initiative. In collaboration with La Libanaise, different psychosocial support activities are organized for the benefit of the children staying at the orphanage, all of whom come from very difficult family conditions.