Join HCI in helping the displaced women and children of Syria, tens of thousands need your support

 Children, Current Emergency Appeals, Emergency and Transition, Featured Stories from the Field, Lebanon  Comments Off on Join HCI in helping the displaced women and children of Syria, tens of thousands need your support
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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HCI is continuing its Relief Work with Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

 Emergency and Transition, Featured Stories from the Field, Lebanon  Comments Off on HCI is continuing its Relief Work with Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
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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Syrian Refugee Crisis: HCI’s work in Lebanon

 Emergency and Transition, Featured Stories from the Field, Lebanon  Comments Off on Syrian Refugee Crisis: HCI’s work in Lebanon
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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HCI’s New Children’s Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp

 Children, Featured Stories from the Field, Health and Sanitation, Lebanon, Youth  Comments Off on HCI’s New Children’s Clinic in The Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp
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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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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Supporting Marginalized Children through Positive Engagement in Lebanon

 Education and Empowerment, Featured Stories from the Field, Lebanon  Comments Off on Supporting Marginalized Children through Positive Engagement in Lebanon
Nov 172011
 

For decades HCI has been promoting interaction and the sharing of ideas and resources among children in marginalized communities and their peers from different areas as a “discrete” tool that eventually leads to greater understanding of the other, which addresses the bigger headlines of coexistence, tolerance, pluralism and nonviolence.

Using its years of cumulative experience in this field, including its recent similar work in El-Nabaa area north of Beirut and in Amman and Zarqa in Jordan working with Iraqi refugees and their Jordanian hosts, HCI is now working with the children of the Shatila refugee camp and its surrounding areas to address these same issues through the implementation of a series of activities that stimulate them to become more positively engaged with their surroundings, build bridges among the different factions of the camps’ communities and communities from outside the camp and improve their psychosocial wellbeing.

The inhabitants of the Shatila refugee camp are among Lebanon’s most marginalized communities, they face a number of problems ranging from lack of social and civil rights to no access to public and social services, from very limited access to hospitals and schools to lack of safe spaces for children to play in.

HCI’s activities are bringing together children from different backgrounds between the ages of 9 and 14 to participate in a series of tailored activities, such as celebrating relevant internationally recognized days, highlighting special national causes, participating in community gatherings, and learning new information and skills.

The benefits of these activities are manifold; first, they serve as a means of awareness and education, where the children are stimulated to become more positively engaged in their surroundings. Secondly, these activities serve as a form of psychosocial support, giving them a chance to engage in “fun” activities, improving their mental and emotional health. Thirdly, and most importantly, they expose the youth to people of all backgrounds and communities, and encourage them to interact and share. Firsthand contact encourages the youth to see those with different backgrounds as fellow human beings, and not simply as “others.” Numerous studies have shown that increased contact between communities, sharing of resources and knowledge, and working together for one cause can serve to break down divisions, reduce the potential for conflict, and increase social cohesion.

Simultaneously, HCI’s intervention aims at tackling “discreetly” the issue of children at-risk by involving them in the project activities as the main target participants, be it working children, children on the street, street children, victims of abuse, children who live below the poverty line and others. More focus is given on children living in families considered to be “extremely poor”, particularly since children who grow up in families with low incomes are significantly more likely to experience a wide range of problems and poor developmental outcomes than others. Research has shown that there are significant associations between poverty and children’s health, cognitive development, behavior problems, emotional well-being, and problems with school achievement. Studies have shown that 8 percent of the children in Lebanon live on less than $2.40 a day and 9 percent of young people aged between 6 and 19 in the Palestinian camps live on less than $2 a day, while victims of child labor in Lebanon are estimated to be around 7 percent of the children. The aim is to promote at-risk children’s right to care, health, safety and education and to help return to some sense of normalcy to their daily life through interaction, sharing, fun and learning with their peer children.

One of the first activities HCI sponsored was the celebration of world environment day, the diverse group of children started the day by planting trees in the dusty play area of their local community center, in the hope of transforming this barren urban area into a green space full of trees (more trees were later planted in several locations all over the camp.) After much digging and watering, the children were treated to an educational and fun trip far away from their overcrowded environment at a wildlife reserve in the Shouf Mountains to enjoy and learn about nature, while interacting and sharing all the way, from the planting of trees to the hiking in the vast lush green landscape for hours while learning about the importance of protecting the environment. The children went swimming in a natural spring to cool off and were provided with a delicious and nutritious lunch before heading back home.

Another activity the children participated in was a community iftar during the month of Ramadan, Ramadan is traditionally a time when individuals, families and communities make an effort to bond and spend time together. Hundreds of impoverished children from the camp were invited during Ramadan to participate in a community iftar in another related activity, which allowed them to get to know each other better and enjoy a healthy meal and fun activities, strengthening contacts with other members of the community, and hopefully building friendships that will last long after the project has ended.

More activities have commenced, including a photography and image related workshop and exhibition for the children. The theme of the exhibition “interaction and sharing“ and the images captured and exhibited will also serve to stimulate a greater, more tangible understanding of these concepts among the children and the community in general. The implementation of this activity will be participatory from the start, bringing artist photographers, development practitioners, volunteer workers, community leaders, and a very diverse group of children together to design and implement the activity, working together, while learning, interacting and sharing along the way, all themed around interaction and sharing, which addresses the bigger headlines of coexistence, tolerance, pluralism and nonviolence using photography as means to an end.

HCI will also join 50 of the above children to run together as part of the Beirut Marathon this month to promote healthy eating habits and exercise among children which has been a major theme at HCI for the past 3 years as well as the development of healthy eating manuals, school kitchens, health-related publications and series of events as part of the same program.

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Undergraduate Support; HCI Supports University Students in Rural Lebanon

 Education and Empowerment, Featured Stories from the Field, Lebanon  Comments Off on Undergraduate Support; HCI Supports University Students in Rural Lebanon
Nov 142011
 

HCI Supports University Students in Rural LebanonAbout 5 years ago it came to HCI’s and its partners’ attention that many of the high school graduates of Lebanese villages were dropping out of university despite the fact that many of them had great educational potential and very good grades, because they were unable to afford the tuition fees.

Many of these students eventually become a burden on society relying on charity, others find work that doesn’t provide enough money for a decent life, some wait for a chance to follow their relatives to Canada, the USA or Brazil, and others end up as delinquents.

More and more, their younger relatives that are still in elementary school are starting to drop out at an earlier level and younger age because they know that they will eventually be unable to afford continuing their education. It is perceived as hopeless case for many because they know that they will share the same fate as those before them that struggled to get through school, only to find they are unable to afford university.

HCI, along with its grassroots partner The Bekaa Youth for Development and Free Education NGO, decided it was time to do something about it, so the program started by helping meritorious students unable to afford university fees by providing a very small number of them with a small monthly grant, which contributed to easing the financial burden off their shoulders. The program helped 4 students the first year, the next year we had around 10, and then 11 and then 14 students.

HCI Supports University Students in Rural LebanonAfter a short break due to restructuring, the program was re-launched this year with much improved scale and scope and a better more systemized process, including more adequate funding. We now no longer provide monthly payments; instead we give payments per semester per year directly to the university, complemented with several social and educational activities for the same students and for others. A new screening and selection system was developed and introduced this year to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the project. A new monitoring and evaluation system was also introduced.

This year we have around 36 students, 15 of which are females and 21 males. More than two thirds of them attend Bekaa valley universities; the others go to Beirut universities. All of them with no exception are in a great need of tuition support to be able to continue their education, and around 50% will be obliged to drop out if our help stops. All of our students are undergraduate students; we don’t assist post-graduate students at the moment.

Additionally, the program also implemented various social and educational activities for non-university students such as health and first aid training, and we are preparing to start a one month class to teach people how to use computers.

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Health and Sanitation in 2010, the HCI Way

 Egypt, Gaza Strip, Health and Sanitation, Lebanon  Comments Off on Health and Sanitation in 2010, the HCI Way
Apr 122011
 

Health and Sanitation in 2010Health 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. There are many in the Middle East with little or no access to healthcare, with women suffering the most from neglect and gender biased traditions. HCI is conscious of this fact and is always working to help improve access to healthcare in communities all around the region.

Our work to build healthy communities, families and individuals is at the heart of HCI’s vision for social change. By collaborating with a range of partners, from village health committees to government agencies, we help build the means to improve maternal, newborn and child health, ensure proper nutrition and combat infectious diseases. HCI’s field teams provide long-term health and nutrition services to communities in need by operating clinics and training health workers.

Health and Sanitation in 2010In 2010, HCI worked to improve the mental and emotional health of distressed children in Gaza and the West Bank by providing them with focused psychosocial support to help them deal with emotional trauma, especially those who had lost family members, children with a new physical disability, children who live in women-headed households, and in families that have lost their livelihoods as part the Psychosocial Support for Children project. Meanwhile in Gaza, as part of the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project, vulnerable families received health and sanitation related items such as essential medication and essential appliances that contribute to accessibility, mobility and a capacity for independent living, among other things.

HCI provided The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt with financial support valued at $25,000 in recognition of the hospital’s achievements and vision in 2010; the hospital serves all Egyptians, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay. All the necessary treatment and medication are provided free of charge if a family lacks sufficient financial means. Additionally, it provides support to families as they struggle to cope with the stress of a cancer diagnosis for their child. Furthermore, the hospital has inaugurated the country’s first school program for hospitalized children, to ensure that they are given the chance to succeed once they have completed their treatment. The hospital is committed to sustainability, and we are certain that no dollar will be wasted. It is money that will be used to help the hospital to expand, bringing its life-saving treatment, education, and message to ever larger numbers.

Health and Sanitation in 2010In April 2010, HCI team members headed to Dubai to participate in the largest humanitarian event in the Middle East; the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference (DIHAD). The theme for 2010 conference was “Global Health Challenges of Tomorrow: Impact and Response”. The team was invited to share HCI’s experiences in Palestine and Lebanon in a special event with the rest of the attendees which included members of several key international agencies such as The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Water is essential for life, good health and economic development — HCI provides water and sanitation programming, giving communities access to clean water, decreasing the incidence of communicable diseases, and improving the quality of life. In 2010 HCI built on the results and findings of the water and sanitation country analytical report for Sudan developed a year earlier, by designing and developing water and sanitation community projects in two settlements South and North of the Capital Khartoum.

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Mar 312011
 

Sudanese Refugees in LebanonMillions of individuals in the region face discrimination, persecution, and even violence solely because of their ethnicity, beliefs, language or social class. Their path out of poverty is especially challenging. HCI helps them to be heard and recognized so they can exchange oppression for opportunity.

In 2010, HCI built the capacity of a diverse group of underprivileged youth from an ethnically and religiously diverse suburb in Beirut, Lebanon to recognize and address the needs of internally displaced people, refugees and other marginalized members of their community.

HCI’s approach to civil society development emphasizes cross-cultural understanding and empowerment of vulnerable and under-represented members of society and pays equal attention to existing social tensions, and conflicts including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race. The rights of women and girls are a critical issue in this sector, and are incorporated in many of HCI’s programs.

Raising Awareness of the Plight of Migrant Women Workers in LebanonHCI also focuses on rights of people with special needs, refugees, displaced people and migrant workers. Our approach aims to build and improve societal relations based on the principles of peaceful coexistence, accountability and participation.

In 2010, HCI joined in raising the awareness of the plight of migrant women workers in Lebanon. Also, HCI continued its work in support of Iraqi refugees in the region, internally displaced people in Sudan and new settlers in Lake Nasser in Egypt.

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Mar 092011
 

Education is the foundation of progress, but it is often interrupted by extreme poverty, war and other crises. As a result, individuals and their communities often can’t reach their full potential. HCI works to bring access to education to women and men of all ages and economic groups to help ensure a better future for all. HCI programs include a wide range of activities: teacher training programs, building libraries and Internet centers, providing books and classroom furniture to under-resourced schools, and promoting equal access to education.

HCI helps mobilize youth to influence a better tomorrow, while also offering education and job training to give them a place in the changing global economy. HCI programs empower youth through service learning and leadership training to become active in their communities and act as agents for change. As a result of this, in 2010 young orphans in Sudan benefitted from HCI’s entrepreneurship training workshops and real life “business for a day” programs, and young entrepreneurs with disability in Darfur, Sudan, received coaching in micro-business management. Meanwhile in Gaza and The West Bank, HCI also provided people with special needs with vocational training, coaching, and business development services.

In 2010, orphans in Sudan 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, giving them real, relevant instruction on how to build a successful and sustainable business as part of the Today’s Orphans Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs project

Education is vital to the social and economic integration of future generations. HCI places a significant focus on this sector to ensure that children affected by conflict can continue to pursue their education. HCI works with communities to shelter and nurture children through innovative education, health and nutrition programs. In 2010 hundreds of orphans from the poorest communities of the Middle East were able to have their basic education, healthcare and nutrition needs met through HCI’s Child Sponsorship Program. In the same year HCI worked with several kindergartens in Gaza, supporting health services and nutrition programs targeting underprivileged children and HCI also supported the Human Concern Kindergarten that was launched in 2009; the kindergarten is located in Bethlehem and targets children with special needs, particularly those with hearing impairments.

Women are the foundation of every society. Yet for many women in the world’s poorest regions, life is extraordinarily difficult. Through innovative health, agricultural, business and education programs, HCI builds on the courage and resourcefulness of women to help them realize their potential and improve their families and communities. In 2010, Sudanese widows in the settlements around Khartoum, Sudan were able to set up small businesses with the financial support of HCI’s revolving microcredit funds, young girls in low income suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon are now able to design and implement community oriented development interventions and female social workers in Gaza had their capacities built in individualized needs assessments and breast cancer awareness with the help of HCI.

HCI aims at breaking down the sense of dependency of the local community on HCI, as a result, our projects are community-managed from the start. HCI programs are participatory and at the same time integrated development projects. Qualified community leaders are identified and trained on management and development issues relevant to the project. In this way project sustainability, particularly institutional sustainability, is ensured through handing “ownership” of project activities to the local community, this simultaneously empowers the community and ensures the sustainability of the project’s activities. In 2010 HCI built the capacities of several of its local partners in both Lebanon and Gaza as part of the Youth Impact Project and the Reviving Lives and Livelihoods project respectively. Giving them further training and tools that will help complement the important work that they do.

Many of poverty’s root causes can be found in conflict over resources, philosophies and goals, and societies are more peaceful and prosperous when citizens are actively involved in decision-making. In 2010, HCI created safe spaces where a group of young men and women from a low income suburb of Beirut from different religious, ethnic and political backgrounds came together to discuss and debate the choices that affect their lives and communities. HCI believes that engaging potential adversaries in productive dialogue can lead to mutually beneficial solutions for change. Conflict resolution today can help avoid tomorrow’s wars and other crises.

The 2010 Youth Impact Project also provided these Lebanese youth with developmental training and tools which led them to work together to produce a report mapping the challenges faced by their community and gave them an in-depth socio-cultural understanding and analysis that pays equal attention to existing social tensions, and conflicts including but not limited to gender, religion, sect, and race.

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