rabihy

Jan 182013
 

Syrian Refugees in LebanonIn the midst of a harsh winter season — one of the harshest winter seasons in twenty five years, as the conflict in Syria continues, the number of Syrian refugees continues to escalate in Lebanon. In the second week of January alone 5,400 new Syrian refugees registered with UNHCR in Lebanon. Lebanon is now hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees, which has grown to almost 200,000-registered refugee. HCI’s needs assessment have so far reached more then 40,000 refugee in need — the majority of them are on the waiting list pending availability of funds. Exhausted from the ordeals that drove them to flee from their homes, and often lacking the most basic of resources, these refugees struggle to survive is rife with hardship, even during the warm summer months. Now, in deepest January as the entire region is battered by deadly winter storms, their fight for survival is all the more precarious especially those living in flimsy tents and makeshift homes with no fire or heating equipment and no support. The harsh cold weather has already claimed the lives of several infants. Many have resorted to the streets to look for paperboard to be used for fire or for portion of food to be shared with the large family — many of them are children and infants. Several cases of suicides have been documented in the past few weeks.

The vast majority of Syrians who have fled to Lebanon are now “urban refugees”, a term designating refugees who settle in an urban area of the country rather than in a camp-based settlement. Urban refugees are among the most vulnerable groups in low-income countries, many crowd into small rented rooms and apartments in disrepair or schools and other spaces provided by host governments. Others squat in unused spaces in poor districts that lack the capacity to assist them. Many refugees arrive with war wounds and illnesses, yet struggle to access health care. Most flee with few belongings and little money, have seen their finances dwindle and can no longer afford food, clothing and other basics. Unable to work legally in most host countries, many have taken loans and are in deepening debt.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonAs Lebanon recovers from one of the strongest winter storms in twenty five years, HCI and its partners are doubling their efforts to bring much needed shelter support to the most vulnerable families as part of the ongoing Syrian refugee assistance program in Lebanon. The violent storm that struck just before mid January resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, including claiming the lives of several children refugees. Power lines were downed in various parts of the country, leaving thousands without electricity. Floods and mudslides led to the collapse of several structures and roads nationwide, entire villages in south Lebanon were isolated, villages in the north reported gasoline and flour shortages. Motorists and villagers in remote areas of the country were left stranded, waiting for bulldozers to plow through the heavy snow. Crops and agriculture installations across the country were destroyed and thousands of livestock birds died during the storm.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonHCI had been offering relief to the families most in need for several months before the storm. At the offset we developed an in-depth family-level needs assessment platform especially for this campaign and its anticipated large-scale yet tailored intervention. Vulnerability criteria were developed for this purpose which include family income; productivity and employability of family members; vulnerability of family members; priority expenditure; health conditions/needs; schooling needs; access to relief support; availability of skills and assets; housing conditions; support groups; etc. This platform has been developed and tested by HCI tested in similar conditions especially in an urban refugee context in the Middle East, such as our work with Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Based on the needs assessments, an intervention plan was drafted taking in consideration the priority of needs, availability and feasibility of the support, and available funds to provide such support. Such approach is a tailored approach as opposed to a “one size fits all” approach. By the end of September 2012 our needs assessments outreach had encompassed over 6000 refugees nationwide, and our needs assessments have reached more then 40,000 refugees to this date, with single mother headed families, the elderly, people with special needs, infants and children being the priority recipients of HCI’s aid. The main bulk of our work so far has been in the North, the Bekaa valley and in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonAt the offset, our intervention was centered around meeting immediate needs for newborn children and dependent others, such as providing formula and diapers, distributing life saving chronic disease medication, providing essential food and non food items such as hygiene kits, accessibility items, and bedding, encouraging environmental health, personal hygiene, and sanitary living conditions among others. As winter approached, HCI shifted its priority more towards offering blankets, winter clothing and shelter support. With the advent of the mid January winter storm, temperatures reached freezing point, bringing new difficulties to thousands of refugees, covering numerous parts of the country in snow and causing flooding in a number of tented settlements in the Bekaa Valley and in other parts of the country.

“We’ve never suffered like this before; it has been so cold and windy that we haven’t been able to sleep” Umm Essam, a single mother of three from Syria told us at one of HCI’s blanket distribution centers in the Bekaa area where the deadly cold has already claimed the life of a young child. In addition to blankets HCI has been distributing bread, bedding materials and life saving children’s winter clothes while working in coordination with local groups, other relief agencies and village councils.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonAbu Khaled is one of the many Syrian refugees that has been living in extreme poverty in the Bekaa valley, a small hut is what he and his family call home, for several months, “we’re living without electricity, without water, without anything” Abu Khaled told us as we provided his shelter with insulation material “With this harsh weather I was afraid we would freeze to death”. In addition to the insulating material, HCI also made sure to provide Abu Khaled with extra blankets and provided his children with warm winter hats and scarves.

Thousands of similar cases have been supported by HCI to this date, but ten of thousands are still on the waiting list pending the availability of funds. That is why we are making this special appeal for help.

Please donate generously and help HCI help Syrian families stranded in Lebanon survive. PLEASE CONTACT US NOW IF YOU WANT TO DONATE. You can also donate online at HCI Canada website by clicking here.

HCI follows a strict monitoring and evaluation system, which involves more than one long-term partner organization. Some of these partners provide supervision from within; others offer logistical support while others are responsible for designing and assisting in the implementation of HCI’s projects. Thus, transparency and accountability are ensured through a complex multi-level monitoring and supervision system. HCI only choose partners that have been thoroughly scrutinized, monitored, evaluated and verified in meeting our strict criteria. We value the support of our donors and every effort is made to make sure that every penny you donate goes to those who need it the most.

(Note: real names were changed to protect the privacy of the people involved)

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Nov 252012
 

Gaza Strip Refugees

Human Concern international is making an urgent appeal for emergency donations to help support the people of Gaza after a deadly eight-day bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Military.140 Palestinians were killed and 1,202 were injured in the eight days of conflict since 14 November 2012, when the security situation deteriorated.

The medical infrastructure in Gaza is heavily burdened by the overwhelming numbers of casualties and in addition to limited medical supplies, shell shocked civilians are also suffering from a lack of basic essentials such as food and sanitation items. Shops are running low on stocks with long queues for basics such as bread. There are restrictions on the amount of fuel that people are allowed to purchase and regular power cuts.

Over 1,500 targets were hit by the Israeli military; some of the structures destroyed include residential buildings, schools, and the offices of key Ministries such as the Ministry of Interior and with them the machine running civil life in Gaza. While most of the populations’ records had been digitalized, the department governing births, deaths, taxes, passports and drivers licenses now no longer exists.

The recent events have also had a significant impact on the psychological state of Gaza’s civilians and high levels of trauma are emerging, especially among children that have been directly exposed to life-threatening experiences that cause constant fear, shock and trauma. Many people have not been able to leave their homes or shelters for several days.

While emergency aid has started trickling in, supplies of basic foodstuffs and fuel, and the provision of medical, water and sanitation services remain critical. The long-term implications of this most recent conflict in terms of recovery and development are mounting. The livelihoods and assets of thousands of civilians have being systematically undermined through the destruction of productive resources such as shops, orchards, and basic industries.

Families that already lived in fragile conditions prior to the latest conflict find themselves today facing a new more difficult struggle to survive and rebuild their lives in the aftermath of yet another devastating military siege. The predictable dire economic conditions consequently will lead to many other problems within the single household affecting health, education and hygiene. Of particular concern is the long-term psychological impact of the conflict on children, who make up over 50 percent of the population of Gaza.

HCI Activities

HCI has already started to act on the ground, assessing the immediate needs of the population; a post-conflict emergency and recovery plan has been drafted by HCI and its partners to be implemented immediately. The plan includes interventions related to emergency assistance for the vulnerable segments of the population, particularly women, elders and children people with special needs; people who have been internally displaced or lost their homes; and families who have lost their breadwinner.

In the following months HCI will focus on helping re-establish basic services, such as health, education, household economic revival, and psychosocial support including the provision of food and non-food supplies.

It is worth noting that HCI only targets and deals with organizations and individuals that have a long and known history in the field of relief and development and are known for it, locally and otherwise. On the organization level, we scrutinize the organizations past experiences using them as benchmarks to determine and guarantee their accountability and integrity. HCI has established a list of pre-identified criteria, which every potential partner must fulfil prior to selection. Some of the most fundamental pre-requisites that each and every one of our partners adhere to are non-political affiliation, a diverse and solid membership base, a proven history of technical and institutional capabilities, and financial transparency.

In order to further guarantee the transparency of our operations, HCI currently refrains from channeling funds into Gaza. We do however provide for in-kind support in the form of physical materials. For example, in the past beehives were offered to farmers who had lost their farms and equipments during the war. Also, equipments for home-based businesses such as sewing machines for women and widows can be provided. HCI would also assist in backyard food production through the distribution of cattle, chickens, rabbits, and seeds to families most in need. Training for young entrepreneurs and the provision of technical assistance falls under this category.

Work-for-assistance projects are also supported whereby temporary employment is secured to those who have lost their breadwinners. In this case the renovation tools offered by HCI to rehabilitate kindergartens would also involve labourers from the aforementioned category thereby extending the assistance to include income-generating activities through temporary employment.

Supplies are either transported from outside of Gaza through the Egypt, West Bank or Jordan or may be provided from within Gaza by local suppliers in agreement with HCI.

HCI is already taking action on the ground, and there are very few funds available for us to increase our programs or to launch new ones. That is why we are making this special appeal for help.

Please donate generously and help HCI help ordinary people of Gaza rebuild their lives. PLEASE CONTACT US NOW IF YOU WANT TO DONATE. You can also donate online at HCI Canada website by clicking here.

HCI follows a strict monitoring and evaluation system, which involves more than one long-term partner organization. Some of these partners provide supervision from within; others offer logistical support while others are responsible for designing and assisting in the implementation of HCI’s projects. Thus, transparency and accountability are ensured through a complex multi-level monitoring and supervision system. HCI only choose partners that have been thoroughly scrutinized, monitored, evaluated and verified in meeting our strict criteria. We value the support of our donors and every effort is made to make sure that every penny you donate goes to those who need it the most.

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Sep 142012
 

Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley

We have stepped up our efforts and provided hundreds of relief items specially tailored to cover what these families are most in need of.

HCI is continuing its relief work with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, reaching out to more and more stranded Syrian families.

Together with our local partners, we have stepped up our efforts and provided hundreds of relief items specially tailored to cover what these families are most in need of, basing our work on an extensive needs assessments which has already encompassed over six thousand refugees nationwide, giving single mother headed families, the elderly, people with special needs, infants and children priority shelter support.

In recent days, HCI’s relief activity in the Bekaa Valley has increased to provide hundreds of new refugees with housing and shelter support; we have been distributing mattresses, blankets, pillows and food items among others, to the most needy families; for those barely able to afford the cost of food, shelter and medication, acquiring items such as bedding and other essential household items is just not feasible. By improving their housing conditions HCI’s intervention is helping to ease the suffering of these refugees and restore a humane level of comfort and accessibility, which in turn contributes to better physical and mental heath and independent living.

Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley

The Distribution Center.

Oum Ahmed, a widowed single mother with 3 children was one of the refugees we spoke to at our strategically located distribution point in the Bekaa Valley. She told us that she has been in the country for months, living in a small rented storage space, and surviving on occasional charity. Oum Ahmed’s family left Syria with just the clothes on their backs and some meager savings. “Every day is a struggle; our future is uncertain, we have no comfort in our lives or in our homes; we sit, sleep and eat on the floor”. HCI’s housing and shelter assistance has helped Oun Ahmed’s family and others like them to restore a sense of comfort and normalcy in their lives.

The main bulk of our work so far has been in the North and in the Bekaa valley, as well as in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut.

Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley

We have been distributing mattresses, blankets, pillows and food items among others.

Our relief interventions have been centered around meeting immediate needs for the poorest of the poor, such as providing formula and diapers, distributing life saving chronic disease medication, providing essential food and non food items such as hygiene kits, accessibility items, and bedding, encouraging environmental health, personal hygiene, and sanitary living conditions among others. HCI is working in tandem with other CBO’s and organization to avoid an overlap of services and to ensure that every area of need is covered.

Hundreds of cases have been supported through this program to this date, and hundreds will be helped in the coming days, but thousands are still on the waiting list pending the availability of funds. That is why we are making this special appeal for help.

Please donate generously and help HCI help Syrian families stranded in Lebanon survive.

Syrian Refugees in in the Bekaa Valley.(Note: real names were changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.)

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Sep 072012
 

Syrian Refugees in LebanonNadia, is a 55 year old who suffers from diabetes, she is a mother of 3 children and wife of a 65 year old cancer patient; Hanaan, is a 31 year old refugee with 3 young children, including an 8 month old infant; Salma, is a 55 year old single mother of 3 children; the list is endless. Nadia, Hanaan and Salma, and many others have quite few things in common: They have fled the violence in Syria with their family and have taken refuge in Lebanon. No money. No house. No access to health services. Living on sporadic charity if it is available… etc. They also have one more thing in common, along with hundreds of other refugees like them: They have been helped by HCI through its Syrian refugee assistance program in Lebanon.

Since 2011, the violence in Syria has forced thousands of people from their homes. As of mid July, the security situation worsened for the people of Syria and as a result thousands of people have been fleeing the conflict and heading to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. In August, the number of registered Syrian refugees increased to 180,000 in the countries surrounding Syria, including an estimated more then 60,000 refugee in Lebanon. This does not include the many tens of thousands who are not registered as refugees. It is worth noting that more than 90,000 are children and around 35,000 are children below the age of five.

They have been arriving in cars, trucks, buses, and on foot. The crisis is getting much bigger than anyone expected and the number of refugees continues to grow; the number of registered refugees in Lebanon almost doubled in early August. The majority, 55 percent, is in north Lebanon, with 42 percent in the Bekaa Valley, and the rest are residing in Mount Lebanon, Beirut and the south of the country.

Many Lebanese families that were poor to begin with are trying to host refugees; it is not uncommon to see a Lebanese family of eight that live in a two bedroom apartment squeeze themselves into one room so that a Syrian refugee family can stay in the other. Some of the refugees are staying in schools, some have put up tents, some are sharing derelict houses or small rental spaces with other stranded families previously unknown to them and others live in makeshift prefabricated housing in the grounds of collective shelters where the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure is non-existent or non-functional.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonWith no foreseeable near end to their unfortunate situation in sight, these families’ resources are fast dwindling. Rampant unemployment and sporadic insecurity around areas like Tripoli are compounding the already dire situation these refugees face. Additionally, high summer temperatures that can reach up to 45 degrees (in the Bekaa especially), a lack of proper shelter and ventilation are making already fragile individuals such as those with chronic illnesses and special needs requiring medication and care more vulnerable. The children of these refugees are also suffering; they continue to face the threat of under nutrition; limited access to basic services and psychosocial distress caused by experiencing violence and displacement.

These children also face an interruption of schooling; the new school year is around the corner, and even though the Lebanese government will probably allow Syrian children to go to government schools, most Syrian families will not be able to afford registration fees (tuition is free in public schools but there are various registration fees involved). Another added challenge is that the Lebanese school system is different from the Syrian one; the curriculum is different, and the language of instruction is in multiple languages, unlike the curriculum in Syria where everything is taught in Arabic, which will oblige these children refugees to take catch-up classes.

It is in this dismal setting that HCI mobilized itself to bring quick relief to the families most in need. At the offset we developed an in-depth family-level needs assessment platform especially for this campaign and its anticipated large-scale yet tailored intervention. Vulnerability criteria were developed for this purpose which include family income; productivity and employability of family members; vulnerability of family members; priority expenditure; health conditions/needs; schooling needs; access to relief support; availability of skills and assets; housing conditions; support groups; etc. This platform has been developed and tested by HCI tested in similar conditions especially in an urban refugee context in the Middle East.

Syrian Refugees in LebanonBased on the needs assessments, an intervention plan was drafted taking in consideration the priority of needs, availability and feasibility of the support, and available funds to provide such support. Such approach is a tailored approach as opposed to a “one size fits all” approach. Our needs assessments outreach has encompassed over 6000 refugees nationwide, with single mother headed families, the elderly, people with special needs, infants and children being the priority recipients of HCI’s aid. The main bulk of our work so far has been in the North, the Bekaa valley and in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut, where more and more families are moving into, as living expenses are significantly more affordable there.

Our intervention has been centered around meeting immediate needs for newborn children, and dependent others such as providing formula and diapers, distributing life saving chronic disease medication, providing essential food and non food items such as hygiene kits, accessibility items, and bedding, encouraging environmental health, personal hygiene, and sanitary living conditions among others. In order to ensure that there is no overlap in services and to maximize the efficiency of our initiatives HCI is working in tandem with other local community-based groups and relief organizations. HCI’s intervention is not just relief or welfare; the medication, bedding, kitchenware and other relief items provided, contribute to a better lifestyle, better housing conditions and independent living as illustrated in the following cases:

In the case of Nadia, a 55 year old mother who suffers from diabetes, she is a mother of 3 children and wife of a 65 year old cancer patient. Nadia and her family live in a small unfurnished and unfinished utility room in a building in Abi Samra, Tripoli. The few belongings they now possess came to them through the kindness of strangers. But this help was sporadic. The living condition of this family required immediate improvement and on many different levels as indicated by the at home needs assessment. Thanks to the tailored design of HCI’s project, this family was able to receive exactly what they were lacking, HCI offered them cooking utensils, a food package and bedding materials, making their home more inhabitable and their lives more bearable.

Hanaan and her family live under extreme poverty. A small, vacant rental shop space is what they call home. For months she has been struggling to find work since they took refuge in Lebanon to support her three young children. In these unfortunate times the family has mainly been surviving on charity. The youngest daughter is 8 months old and is in need of formula, diapers and clothing. HCI’s intervention could not have come at a more opportune time; after needs assessments were implemented by HCI’s specially trained social workers, Hanaan’s family is receiving a baby care package and food that will contribute to a better and healthier standard of living for their infant.

Hundreds of similar cases have been supported through this program to this date, and hundreds will be helped in the coming days, but thousands are still on the waiting list pending the availability of funds. That is why we are making this special appeal for help.

Please donate generously and help HCI help Syrian families stranded in Lebanon survive. PLEASE CONTACT US NOW IF YOU WANT TO DONATE. You can also donate online at HCI Canada website by clicking here.

(Note: real names were changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.)

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Mar 062012
 

Supporting Entrepreneurship in EgyptMohamed is a father of two daughters aged 17 and 10. He has two prosthetic feet and he is now the owner of an expanded shop that sells spare parts and accessories for three-wheel motorcycles also called “tok-tok” commonly used for the transport of people and goods.

Nagah is a 65 year old widow suffering from chronic chest allergies and high blood pressure, a mother of one daughter who is in her last year at school, previously living on charity and now a new owner of a sewing business selling clothes to her neighbors.

Ramy is a 26 years old living with Hepatitis C and the sole provider for his family supporting his wife, his daughter and his elderly mother, previously living on charity and now the owner of an expanded business in Imbaba selling men’s cloths.

They are few of the many beneficiaries of HCI’s project supporting micro businesses in the poverty-stricken suburbs of Cairo implemented in partnership with the local NGOs, Gozour Foundation and Resala NGO. These beneficiaries are mainly the sole breadwinners of large families, predominantly living on charity. Most of them are either physically challenged or with special needs but now they are successful small entrepreneurs operating new or expanded micro businesses with the technical and the financial support from HCI and its local partners.

Mohamed, Nagah and Ramy and many of HCI’s other beneficiaries live in poverty-stricken and overcrowded neighborhoods like Boulaq El Dakrour, which is the largest informal settlement in the Governorate of Giza near Cairo with a population of almost 1 million. Residents live in illegally built dwellings on privately-owned agricultural land. Population density is extreme. Streets are narrow and buildings reach 6-8 storeys. There is virtually no open space for the provision of public services and practically no community facilities exist. Residents suffer from environmental pollution, particularly from uncollected and ever accumulating solid waste. Unemployment is estimated at 20%, reaching 50% for those under 20. A lack of trust between stakeholders in the area hinders sustainable development.

Supporting Entrepreneurship in EgyptMohamed’s previous job involved selling lamps; however, a tragic accident left him with two prosthetic feet and the inability to work as a lamp salesman. He then found an alternative occupation that accommodated his condition while supporting his family. Mohamed’s monthly expenses reach LE 1,000 while the family only received a meager monthly income ranging between LE 250- 500 from charity and his wife’s income. Mohamed received in-kind donation and spare parts and accessories as part of HCI’s project with a net worth of approximately LE 5,000 to help support his business. The feasibility study conducted for Mohamed’s business estimates monthly sales to reach LE 750-1,000 with a net profit of LE 350 during the first few months of operation.

Nagah is a 65 year old widow, and has one daughter who is in her last year at school. Nagah and her daughter live in the basement of a building in a small room that is barely big enough for both of them. Nagah suffers from chronic chest allergies and high blood pressure, and is thus unable to work. Nagah and her daughter survive on charity from the neighboring mosque or by charity from people in their neighborhood. However, these donations never exceed LE 250 every month, which is barely enough to cover their monthly expenses as well as Nagah’s medication.

Nagah resorted to one of her neighbors to teach her how to sew and with HCI’s support; she now owns a sewing machine and materials worth LE 2,000 which she used to start her own business. Nagah is expected to sell clothes to her neighbors and other community, members worth LE 1,000 every month, and earn LE 200-300 of net profit.

Supporting Entrepreneurship in EgyptRamy is 26 years old and is the sole provider for his family. He supports his wife, his daughter and his elderly mother. Ramy used to work at a store selling fish until he was injured in one of his arms. He underwent emergency surgery and came out of the hospital Hepatitis C positive. His illness prevented him from working for a while, after which he started working at a clothes’ store where he remained for five years.

The financial burden of supporting his mother after his father’s death has added to his monthly expenses now reaching LE 750. With his low income and inconsistent charity received from relatives he is unable to make ends meet. For the past couple of months, Ramy was unable to pay his rent and electric bills and is now in debt for approximately LE 2,000. With the help of some relatives he recently started his own business selling men’s cloths and he rented a small shop at the Muneira Tunnel in Imbaba. Ramy received a grant from HCI as part of the project worth LE 3,000. This gave his business a significant boost. According to the feasibility study conducted for Ramy’s business, he is expected to sell products worth LE 2,000-2,500 every month, making a net profit of LE 750-1,000 every month to support himself and his family.

The resources and skills offered through this initiative will definitely enable these entrepreneurs to develop their business opportunities and enhance their livelihoods, which will ultimately lead to more stabilization and an improvement in livelihoods in targeted areas. As a result of HCI’s intervention these men and women have a better chance of coping with the economically debilitating situation on the ground; and having being offered the means to rebuild their livelihoods they will be able to get their lives and the lives of their dependents back on track. It is also worth noting that by empowering entrepreneurs in general, HCI is also aiding the community as a whole; the increased employment and income generated by vocational training, on-the-job support, business development services and financial support give communities an economic boost, and serve as a positive example for others.

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Feb 082012
 

Emergency Medical Relief Assistance to the People of LibyaThe recent turmoil in Libya pushed the healthcare system beyond breaking point; many hospitals, clinics and ambulances were destroyed, others were not sufficiently equipped to cope with the demand for medical care and medical supplies were running out.

As the events evolved the hospitals were overwhelmed by the large number of casualties. According to official statistics, more than 15,000 people in Central and Western Libya were wounded and journalistic estimates put the number of death around 30,000.

In June 2011 HCI shipped a container of medical equipment and supplies from Canada to Libya’s Benghazi port with the help of the British Columbia Campaign for Libya. Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city had become a regional hub for health and medical supplies. Furthermore, many of the war-injured were brought to the city for treatment.

Emergency Medical Relief Assistance to the People of LibyaHCI’s ground-team worked in coordination with local committees, local hospitals, tribal leaders, as well as with local and international aid agencies to make sure the medical supplies were distributed quickly and efficiently where they were most needed.

The medical equipment included an autoclave, four ultrasound monitors, a dental film processor, two digital water baths, an automatic battery charger, astand for an x-ray film processor, a blood glucose meter and one screen among others. The medical supplies included catheters, surgical gloves, urinalysis kits and gauze among others. In addition, technical specialists were brought in to help install and operate the equipment.

The shipment also included 300 family packages for children including clothes, toys and blankets, 83 wheel chairs (15 among them are electric chairs), and a child’s bed. The items were distributed mainly in Benghazi, Misrata, and Sabha cities.

Emergency Medical Relief Assistance to the People of LibyaThe medical supplies HCI made available helped prevent the hospitals from running out of simple but essential supplies such as gauze and cotton.The supplies were used to treat thousands injured with cuts and bruises as well as in surgical procedures for those suffering from more severe injuries from gun shots, shrapnel and other intensive treatments.

In Benghazi city, the medical supplies and equipment were distributed in the Al-Jalaa and the Al Hawary hospitals. The wheelchairs were delivered to local disability-focused NGOs to be distributed to cases most in need. 100 vulnerable families in Benghazi also received packages of children’s clothes, toys and blankets.

HCI also supported Misrata city which was suffering from shortages of medical supplies; together with our partners we shipped medical supplies and equipment as well as family packages containing children’s clothes, toys and blankets by boat to Misrata.

Emergency Medical Relief Assistance to the People of LibyaHCI supported Kasr Ahmed, Abbad, Al Hikma and Central Misrata hospitals in Misrata in addition to distributing 100 packages of children’s clothes, toys and blankets to displaced families living in the camps around Misrata city.

We also succeeded in reaching Sabha city which is in south-central Libya, 784 km away from Benghazi and inhabited by 7.8% of the Libyan population where we also distributed 100 packages of clothes and toys to children of martyrs.

HCI’s assistance has already reached thousands of people inside and outside the country however, many more Libyans are in need of our help. A large percentage of Libya’s 6 million strong population is recovering from a major humanitarian crisis.

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Feb 072012
 

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampIn the first few weeks since it opened its doors, 280 underprivileged children under the age of fourteen received access to health services at HCI’s recently launched Children’s Clinic in the Nahr el Bared camp. The clinic is managed by our local partners the National Institution of Social Care & Vocational Training organization. HCI fully equipped and staffed the clinic enabling it to provide the necessary health services to the children of the camp, thanks to a Canadian Medical Doctor that is a former resident of the camp.

Health is widely recognized as a cornerstone of human development because it underpins the gamut of human functioning. But health is also essential to human security, since survival and protection from illness are at the core of any concept of people’s wellbeing. The health of children in particular is at risk in the Palestinian camps where the availability of health care access to refugees is very limited. 95% of Palestinian refugees rely on assistance from the UNRWA, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and a myriad of informal civil society networks, in order to access healthcare. Palestinian healthcare in Lebanon is underfunded and chronically unfit for the needs of the refugee population.

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampAccording to a survey conducted in 2010 by the American University of Beirut and UNRWA, two-thirds of Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon live below the poverty line. The inhabitants of The Nahr Al Bared camp in particular are even more marginalized; where five years after the 2007 conflict, the nearly 27,000 Palestinian refugees from the camp are still largely displaced in temporary accommodations in the nearby Beddawi camp, and in the NBC adjacent areas.

Much of the community remains predominantly reliant on international aid for survival. The refugees that have returned to the camp and those in adjacent areas have been profoundly affected by the prolonged displacement and depressed economy. A single case of acute illness can plunge a family deeper into poverty. Furthermore, a third of Palestine refugees living in Lebanon are known to suffer from chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension or cardiac diseases.

HCI's New Children's Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee CampUpon reviewing the situation, and as part of the ongoing effort to rebuild the Camp that commenced in November 2009 which involves the reconstruction of 5,223 homes and 1,969 commercial units,and the very recent return of the first batch of displaced families to the Camp, it was clear that HCI needed to intervene in the field of children’s health services. Our previous experience working in this field in the north of Lebanon was an asset to us; in 2008 we set up the Happiness Center Clinic, an early detection center for hearing imparities among children in public schools in the north of Lebanon, and before that we provided the Al Mona School for children with special needs children in Tripoli with much needed equipment.

In January, the most common ailments documented by the clinic were respiratory tract infections, gastro intestinal problems, and ear, nose and throat diseases among others. Out of the 280 visits, 241 were new patients and 39 were repeated visits. The resident doctors also refer patients to other free specialized health service providers when needed. The clinic is open Mondays to Thursdays from 8 am to 2 pm.

To date it is estimated that over 500 families that have recently returned have access to the Children’s Clinic and as more families return to reside in the camp (estimated of 1,100 families will return before the end of this year,) there will be an overwhelming need for health services, making our contribution even more invaluable. Our work to build healthy communities, families and individuals is at the heart of HCI’s vision for social change. By establishing this clinic we are helping build the means to improve child and newborn health, ensure proper nutrition and combat infectious diseases.

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Feb 072012
 

Iraqi Children - Building Bridges and Bolstering PluralismOver a hundred Iraqi and non-Iraqi children, Christian and Muslim, from disadvantaged backgrounds were brought together by HCI in Jordan for a gift distribution party on Christmas day. Similar to HCI’s activities during Eid El-Adha and the Holy month of Ramadan, this activity encouraged these children coming from very different environments to share an exceptional experience together; they were given an opportunity to interact with each other in a safe and fun space, challenging the stigmas and the complex dynamics that commonly exist between refugees and their hosts, building bridges of understanding and mutual respect among each other and simultaneously having their needs addressed.

Iraqi Children - Building Bridges and Bolstering PluralismJordan hosts thousands of Iraqi refugees the majority of which are children and youth below the age of twenty four. A large number of them are known to be physically, psychologically, and/or economically vulnerable. In the poor neighborhoods of Amman deprivation and the limited availability of resources create tensions between low income Jordanians, poverty stricken Iraqi refugees and other refugees. This dynamic often leads to the stigmatization of these Iraqi refugees, complicates community ties and makes their struggle to survive even harder. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative mental health outcomes and general social disadvantage that may result from this.

Iraqi Children - Building Bridges and Bolstering PluralismHCI always takes into consideration the social fabric of any community and/or society when designing and implementing any initiative. Whether the project directly tackles the question of social cohesion or integrates it as an inseparable component of a project and HCI always makes it a point to include as many components of society as possible including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race. Pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all of civil society in recognizing and celebrating diversity.When it comes to working with children, HCI’s projects that have been themed around pluralism, gender equality and non-violence usually include activities that promote interaction and sharing of ideas and resources. Our seasonal projects for example expose children to others from different backgrounds, religious sects and nationalities encouraging them to interact and to learn more about each other; this encourages them to see those with different backgrounds as human beings like themselves, and not simply as “others.” In the poverty-stricken and overcrowded Shatila Refugee camp for example, our 2011 activities brought together children from different nationalities and religious sects to share a collective Iftar and participate in recreational activities; the children played games together, prepared the meal together and ate side by side. HCI believes that these kinds of activities stimulate children on various levels; from becoming more positively engaged with their surroundings to building bridges among the different factions of their society, from improving their psychosocial wellbeing to learning more about the world in general in a collective and safe environment away from the problems that plague their environment such as the lack of social and civil rights, limited access to social, educational and health services, and violence among others.

Iraqi Children - Building Bridges and Bolstering PluralismHCI invests in the role that increased contact among different factions of society can play to break down divisions, reduce the potential for misunderstanding and conflict, and increase social cohesion. Accordingly by implementing of seasonal projects such as the celebration of Ramadan, Eid Al Adha and Christmas, we are not only a celebrating the role that these traditions play- they serve to strengthen community ties and embody important ideals such as generosity and helping the needy- we are also taking the opportunity to sow the seeds of dialogue, promote understanding and facilitate social cohesion.

Iraqi Children - Building Bridges and Bolstering PluralismWithout dialogue, a functional diverse and pluralistic society is non-achievable, and without respect for diversity, dialogue is useless. Celebrating diversity means not only discussion among communities, but also includes all positive and constructive inter-cultural relations with individuals and communities which are directed at mutual understanding and enrichment. Dialogue, therefore, means a witness given and received for mutual advancement on the road taken by everyone for the elimination of prejudice, intolerance and misunderstanding.

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Nov 302011
 

Supporting Young Entrepreneurs in the Middle EastEntrepreneurship is becoming increasingly accepted as an important means and a useful alternative for income generation in young people, particularly in the developing world. As traditional job-for-life career paths become rarer, youth entrepreneurship is regarded as an additional way of integrating youth into the labor market and overcoming poverty.

Throughout our long history of working with the marginalized, Human Concern International has sought participatory and empowering approaches, rather than building dependence on charity, we seek to foster self-reliance, and success. To do so we have often use business development approaches, helping to empower through the building of self-esteem, positive risk taking, and problem-solving.

In Egypt, HCI’s “Supporting Youth Micro-Businesses Afflicted by the Political Crises in Egypt” program economically empowers underprivileged youth in low income urban areas of the Cairo governorate that have been adversely affected by the recent unrest through self-employment, putting them in charge of their own income-generating projects; the selected youth’s micro-businesses are provided with an innovative system of tailored micro grants, affordable microcredit and technical assistance. The program is being implemented along with HCI’s long-term local partner Gouzour NGO. The program’s approach is based on mentored ownership.

After the success of the first phase, HCI expanded the scale and the scope of the project to include another Egyptian grassroots organization having a long history of charity work, with the aim to transfer the knowledge gained during phase one to the new organization, at the same time providing the new organization with tailored capacity building activities to guarantee sustainability and increase local knowhow.

Also in Sudan, HCI has been working to empowering Sudan’s youth generation through entrepreneurship and business development, both in Darfur area and in settlements around Khartoum. HCI’s initiatives touched on the economic aspect of the lives of the disabled youth first, then young orphans, and now on the disadvantaged youth in general. The beneficiaries received coaching in micro-business management and eventually developed and implemented small income generating initiatives such as a home based cafeterias and workshops which HCI funded using a combination of grants and loans.

In 2009, The “Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs” program implemented in Sudan was specifically designed by HCI to empower orphans and to prevent them from getting drawn into a passive cycle of receiving charity and relying on the kindness of others. As part of the activities, a group of orphans received the training and materials necessary to embark on their own business ventures. They were also given the opportunity to test their ideas under real-life circumstances, and took part in the “Business for a Day” program, in which they designed and operated a small business service for one day. The Project also included the setting up of and funding of an investment club run by the orphan entrepreneurs.

In 2010, HCI built up these young entrepreneurs’ knowledge of investment by further developing the investment club managed and run by orphans, a space where more orphans received hands-on investment training and a positive attitude towards investment entrepreneurship was created. They were given the opportunity to be able to test group investment ideas under realistic circumstances and get a deeper understanding of running an investment business. This investment club is a legal entity that is able to attract and absorb more orphans and serve as an “incubator” for future group investments.

Later on, the project also built up the developmental capacities of the youth and put them on the path to become active philanthropists by increasing their public awareness, promoting youth involvement, increasing local contributions, contributing to greater accountability, enhancing transparency in decision-making, and promoting good governance based on active citizen participation among the young club members. The group learnt how to better organize themselves, identify and link with established CBO programs and services, design and implement youth-oriented fund raising activities, develop a grant-making/monitoring mechanism, and organize youth volunteers in support of foundation activities as well as those of local CBO partners. This transition to active philanthropy boosts their self confidence and empowers them as they are giving back to the community which took care of them for many years.

More recently, HCI broadened its focus to empower underprivileged youth in low-income urban settlements around Khartoum. The beneficiaries received coaching in micro-business management and were assisted to develop viable micro businesses, which included micro-business ideas generation and business training.

The activities carried out in Egypt and Sudan have given these youth real, relevant instruction on how to build a successful and sustainable business and will build the groundwork for the development of a new generation of young entrepreneurs eager to take action and improve their situations. The resources and skills offered through HCI’s initiatives will definitely enable them to further develop their business opportunities and enhance their livelihoods, which will ultimately lead to more stabilization and an improvement in livelihoods in targeted areas.

As a result of HCI’s intervention these young men and women have a better chance of coping with the economically debilitating situation on the ground; and having being offered the means to rebuild their livelihoods they will be able to get their lives and the lives of their dependents back on track. It is also worth noting that by empowering young entrepreneurs in general, HCI is also aiding the community as a whole; the increased employment and income generated by vocational training, on-the-job support, and business development services give communities an economic boost, and serve as a positive example for others.

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Nov 212011
 

Each year HCI makes it a point to honor and celebrate the traditions of the communities we serve; understanding the culture and living conditions of the local communities we work with is part of HCI’s philosophy while serving these communities, especially at times such as Ramadan and Eid Al Adha when great importance is placed on celebrating the traditional aspects of local culture. In addition, these traditions serve to strengthen community ties and embody important ideals such as generosity and helping the needy.

As the month of Ramadan approaches, families all around the Arab world prepare themselves for a month of fasting, a month of spending more time together, and a month of helping the needy. For over twenty years HCI has honoured this tradition by working around the Arab world to make Ramadan a month of hope for the families that need hope the most; families struggling to survive, families affected by conflict, families headed by widows and families where the breadwinner is disabled or chronically ill.

This year, the condition of many in the Arab world has further deteriorated as a result of the overall regional unrest, instability and turmoil, making HCI’s Ramadan program even more relevant. Assisted by its regional network of local partners and volunteers, HCI distributed hundreds of much needed food packages and provided hundreds of freshly cooked highly nutritional traditional meals to help ease the economic burden off some of the most desperate households in the Arab world and to spread some good will and optimism as well.

The program was implemented Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan (with Iraqi refugees) where families of the poorest communities received food packages directly from HCI’s team or had them delivered to their doorstep in some cases. The food packages contained a wide variety of basic food items such as flour, rice, beans, oil, sugar and dried fruit among others. It is worth noting that this intervention is particularly relevant since the holy month of Ramadan is also a time when food prices skyrocket.

In Gaza, HCI’s volunteer team went door to door to the poorest districts and personally delivered food parcels while making note of each family’s problems for future interventions. In the West Bank HCI’s team distributed hundreds of food packages to low income families with persons having special needs in the Central District of the West Bank. Female-headed households and families where the breadwinner is disabled were selected as front-end beneficiaries.

In Sudan, HCI and its local partners organized several Iftars in many refugee settlements in the south, north and west of the capital. In addition to distributing hundreds of food packages as well. HCI’s team made it a point to be active in communities that contain refugees from Darfur.

In Egypt, HCI’s team, in coordination with local NGO’s “CDC” and “Gozour foundation” distributed 350 Ramadan food packages to the poorest households in the marginalized new desert settlements of Garf Hussein and Kalabsha in the Aswan Governorate west of Lake Nasser.

In the Jabal Al Qusour and the Al Jubiheh area, one of the poorest areas of Amman where Iraqi refugees live, HCI’s team distributed over hundreds of food packages to marginalized and mostly widow headed Iraqi refugee families assisted by Family Development Association, a women-headed grassroots organization. HCI’s long term local partner, New Development assisted in the screening and selection of final beneficiaries, as well as in the procurement of food items in close consultation with HCI’s team.

In Lebanon, HCI distributed food packets to underprivileged widow headed families in the northern city of Tripoli, in addition to organizing an Iftar in partnership with the Charitable Islamic Women’s Society for 120 orphans and their families, this group included the beneficiaries of HCI’s orphan sponsorship program in Lebanon. In the Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut, HCI together with local NGO “CYC” organized a traditional iftar for over 100 children.

Another tradition that HCI honors is the Eid Al-Adha or the “Feast of Sacrifice” celebration, where meat is distributed to the needy and poor. It is a rewarding spiritual act for Muslims. Every year, Human Concern International (HCI) carries out the Adahi Meat Distribution Project among the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Middle East region.

In 2011, similar to the distributions during the Holy month of Ramadan, families of the poorest communities in Gaza, the West Bank, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan received meat packages directly from HCI’s team, or through the help of our local partners.

The goal of the Adahi Meat Distribution project is to enable poor and vulnerable families to cover their basic need for animal protein; inflation of the prices of meat usually occurs during this season, which reduces the purchasing capacity of many families, especially poor ones. Many families also cannot sacrifice their own livestock because they need their animals for the production of milk, cheese and other dairy products, and to work in the fields.

The project has three main objectives: relieving poor families who cannot afford the high price of meat during this season; forming links with local communities to address the needs of poor and vulnerable families, and complementing HCI’s overall relief and development initiatives in the region. HCI’s selection criteria directed distributions to low-income, large, and single-parent families, particularly if the single parent was a woman or person with special needs.

In Gaza, HCI’s team made up of tens of volunteers went door to door and personally delivered the parcels containing meat portions. They listened to and made note of each family’s problems so that this information could be used for the next needs assessment and distribution project. Hundreds of families benefited from the distributed portions. The distribution was implemented in Sheikh Rdwan in Gaza city, Ezbat Abdrabo in Jebalia, Al Zaytoon neighberhoods, and Shajaeya in Al Shatae refugee Camp.

Neighborhood committees and the local volunteers helped in the distributions. The Shahada family, one of the families benefiting from the Adahi packages told the volunteers that they literally hadn’t tasted meat in months, as did another family from Ezbit Abd Rabo, who were extremely thankful for the meat they received, without which their Eid would have been miserable.

In the West Bank, HCI’s team organized the distribution of hundreds of meat packages to low-income families with special needs persons in the Central District of the West Bank.

Female-headed households, and families where the breadwinner is disabled, were selected as front-end beneficiaries. Local women’s groups and village councils assisted in the identification of beneficiaries. HCI’s local partner, the Vocational Training Workshops for Girls NGO in Palestine contributed additional parcels that were distributed to additional families. The slaughtering took place at the premises of the NGO, as did the distributions. Families arrived early morning of the first day of the Eid to get their Adahi. The project provided direct support to the families surrounded by the West Bank Wall or by Israeli settlements. Local newspapers reported on the distributions. One of the families benefiting from the Adahi packages told the volunteers that they literally hadn’t tasted meat in months, as did another family, who were extremely thankful for the meat they received, without which their Eid would have been miserable.

In Sudan, HCI along with local partners, organized and implemented this year’s Adahi Distributions in many refugee settlements in the south, north and west of the capital. The Adahi Project targeted all those who reside in these communities, focusing on single mothers and orphans. Targeted beneficiaries where identified in association with local partners. The slaughtering and distributions were done according to the Islamic traditions. Every family received one package. The project targeted the poorest families, especially widows, orphans and families with no income. HCI’s team made a point to be active in communities that contain refugees from the Darfur region and from southern Sudan.

In Egypt, HCI’s team distributed meat packages to the poorest households in the marginalized new desert settlements of Kalabsha El-Jedida, Bashayer el-Kheir, New Tomas and ‘Afia village located west of Lake Nasser.

In order to guarantee a proper exposure to the HCI, banners, stickers and bags with the HCI logo were printed to be used on the day of distribution, so that people from the villages would recognize that the event was an HCI initiative. HCI’s local partner, the Center for Development Services, contributed additional parcels bearing the logos of HCI and its partners that were distributed to additional families.

In Lebanon, the distributions were conducted at the premises of HCI’s partner in Tripoli, the CIWS where hundreds of beneficiaries, mainly single mother headed households, received meat packages. HCI’s team supervised and monitored the entire process from the procurement of the supplies to the packing, as well as the organization of distributions and the selection criteria for beneficiaries in order to ensure the highest and best efficiency. Beneficiaries have commented positively on the distributions, and have sent greetings and best wishes to HCI, and to the people who made their Eid possible.

The Adahi project is designed to deliver immediate relief to the poorest families in the communities we work in. It is important to continue implementing this seasonal project every year, as poor families can’t afford meat portions in their diet due to its high costs. The Adahi project promotes sharing and caring values especially in times of need, as well as in times of feasts. The project promotes the good will of HCI and our commitment to working and alleviating poverty in the Arab region. It enhances HCI’s relations with local partners who implement these projects, and the communities in which we work with.

The Adahi project as an immediate relief project supports other development projects that HCI is implementing in the region by exhibiting HCI commitment to poor communities need. It demonstrates the quick response and delivery of the HCI’s projects while working towards longer and sustainable outcomes through our other specialized projects.

HCI’s seasonal projects for 2011 are not over yet; in December HCI will continue its commitment to celebrate the traditions of the communities we serve by organizing Christmas activities for marginalized children, children at risk and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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