Our work in 2017
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2017 was a very productive year for Lebanon Trust. Thanks to your generosity, not only did we help the school for deaf children we have been supporting for ten years now, and the two refugee kindergarten we always help, but also we visited and donated to an institute for street, orphaned or abused children. We also met with a school for deaf teenagers – which prepares them for university – and a Lebanese non-governmental organisation that works with Syrian refugees and poor Lebanese.
The two weeks we spent in Lebanon in November were very intense. We stayed at the deaf children’s school that we support, the Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf (FAID).
We donated them 8000 dollars to help financing speech therapy, which teaches deaf children how to speak and lip-read. this gives them an unique opportunity to communicate with the outside world and, in time, become independent.
We had a very generous sponsor, Tiziana Virgilio from Genoa (Italy), who financed the complete renovation of FAID’s kindergarten playground. We made a new reinforced-concrete floor, covered it with 400 rubber safety tiles, installed a new perimeter fence, fixed the existing toys, bought new ones, painted and decorated gates, walls and handrails. Also, we pruned a tree and removed a large wild overgrowth that blocked the light. We also fixed and painted the adjacent “mock shop”, utilised to teach children grocery-shopping.
The children and the teachers were absolutely delighted. At the end of all this work we had an opening ceremony with ribbon-cutting, sweets and soap bubbles. Every volunteer received a beautiful present from FAID. The new playground was dedicated to the memory of a friend, Francesco Lo Torto, with a plaque on the wall.
Besides all this, a generous Irish sponsor, GK Nets of Howth, donated a marvellous net (80 metres by 4 metres!) for the new football area used by the older kids. We brought it all the way from Ireland to Lebanon for free, thanks to British Airway’s generosity!
One of the children is Amir, a deaf Syrian refugee who has no family. During the week he stays at FAID, and spends the weekends at the Home of Hope. The Home of Home provides housing, accommodation, meals, clothes, education and care to children who have no parents or have been abandoned or abused. We went to visit it on a Friday evening: Amir was absolutely delighted to see us there, and kept trying to tell the other children that we were his friends and were there to see him. We were welcomed by Rachida and Brady, who run the institution together with other staff and volunteers. We were impressed by their dedication and their work. A few days later we realised that we still had a bit of money, so we went shopping with Brady and bought 100 pairs of shoes (“crocs”-like) and much underwear for the children, for a total of 350 dollars. We also donated some footballs from a generous sponsor in Ireland. The kids were overjoyed. They have very little.
In Lebanon there are literally millions of refugees, both long-term ones from the wars in 1948 and 1967 (between 500’000 and 600’00 of them), and an estimated 1.5 million more recent arrivals from the war in Syria. We went to visit the kindergartens of two refugee camps, run by our partner Association Najdeh, one in Beirut and one in Tyre, in the south of Lebanon. These two kindergartens are cheerful and spotless, despite the surrounding dire conditions. The staff are fantastic, motivated and resourceful, and make the most of the little they have. The children are delightful, and – at age 3 to 5 – learn Arabic and English. We donated 2000 dollars to each kindergaten.
One evening we went to visit The Learning Center for the Deaf (LCD), founded and run by Hussein, son of the late Father Andeweg who created FAID, and his wife Nadine. LCD runs an early-intervention centre, for deaf babies and their parents, a nursery school and the preparatory three-year schooling for university. Its services are complementary to FAID. It is very well organised and superbly run. Congratulations to the two visionary founders.
One day we went to the Beqaa valley, which borders Syria, to meet with LADC-Salam, a Lebanese non-governmental organisation. Its aim is to provide flexible, effective and non-bureaucratic assistance, which fills the gaps where refugees and local communities do not receive sufficient support, in light of the overwhelming need created by the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon. They run many important project and a community centre with after-school for children and courses for adults. Many Syrian refugee children do not attend school. A bus fitted as a “mobile school” reaches children in the refugee settlements and brings them up to speed so that they can enrol in the public school system. We met the founders Joseph and Martin, and the medical coordinator Laran. They also have many young volunteers who spends weeks or months helping out the various projects – people from all over the world, driven by the same idea. Meeting them was very inspiring, and we hope that one day we can collaborate.