Our Achievements during 2015-2017 - Report from the Executive Director, Mr. Nassib El Solh, May 29th 2017
Yes, since 1959 - the year Mrs. Mounira El Solh established our centre in Brummana - we keep progressing despite the challenges. Forty adult residents with disabilities are hosted for free at Al Amal Institute for the Disabled in Broummana. They work daily on the manufacturing of our “Winter Sweaters” and the packing of our “Welfare Wheat” grains, among other tasks.
They enjoy a wide range of educational and social activities that include: exchanging visits with school kids, taking tourist trips, visiting art and educational centers. They are happy to watch movies and participate in discussions. New staff specialized in psychology, education, music and entertainment were hired to join our team of experts. Our residents are well-cared for medically and regularly visited twice a week by a Doctor.
The "Sweater & Wheat Relief Program":
Since this program started in 2006, we provided 10,000 Sweater & Wheat Relief Packages to the needy in Lebanon for a total of 10,000 “Winter Sweaters” manufactured at our Center in Brummana; 20,000 soap bars made locally, and 180 tons of five kinds of grains (wheat, lentils, chickpeas, beans and fava beans). The grains were produced by our network of over 300 marginalized farmers. Each farmer works on average 1,200 sq.m of land. Since 1992, our lovely guests have warmed over 200,000 people in need through our “Winter Sweaters” program. Our current average production and deliver of S&W Relief Packages is approximately 1,000 per year, due to limited funds. While it might be surprising, however, we have the actual capacity to produce and deliver 50,000 S&WRPs and reach as many people in need each year.
The “Rock Village” Project:
Mrs. Mounira El Solh, founder of Al Amal Institute, wished for us to build a Center for people with special needs at her land in South Lebanon. Since year 2000, when we regained our land there after the liberation from Israel, through many efforts and the help of a Spanish engineer we were finally able to obtain detailed building construction plans. The engineer designed a 200 sq.m environmentally friendly mud building comprising of a multi-purpose lounge and a central kitchen. Its expected cost is around US$200,000. We already have the necessary licence to build it. We also plan to build a metal warehouse (25m x 25m x 6m) to be used as workshop for people with special needs, and to modify six metallic containers to be used as bedrooms. The expected cost of this is approximately US$40,000. Upon implementation of these plans, we will be able to host 50 persons with special needs.
The “Welfare Wheat Annual Festival":
Since 2002, Al Amal residents and staff spend the month of July at the village of Arnoun, in South Lebanon, as part of the celebration of our “Welfare Wheat Annual Festival". The Lebanese Army lends us tents, beds, mattresses, and a truck, for one month.
The Ministry of Education lends us the local public school for the accommodation and daily purposes required for the summer program, and for the village children who join our disabled residents.
We use the Army truck for transporting grains from farmers to the processing site.
Many agricultural and recreational activities take place daily and are attended by volunteers from various associations that participate in the program.
The "Annual Welfare Wheat Race":
On Sunday May 7th 2017, we celebrated our "5th Annual Welfare Wheat Race" with the participation of 15 schools and 3 clubs. This race is an outcome of our "Awareness & Acceptance Program" which facilitates exchange visits with typical school children. Over 600 school kids between 10 and 18 years old participated in our race to support the cause of individuals with special needs. Our event was meant to sponsor the delivery of 2,700 Sweater & Wheat Relief Packages to 18 welfare centers in Metn that care for as many persons in need.
In 2016, 23 schools participated in the race and over 170 volunteers joined in the oversight of all the roads marked for the runners. Over 150 adults coming from all areas of Lebanon participated in our 5km race for athletes over 18 years old.
Repairs to the old Center in Broummana:
We have been using our premises since 1959 and repairs became necessary. We need to develop our outdoor space, replace the electric network, repair the plumbing, redesign bedrooms and bathrooms, and install more safety systems. The central kitchen and the laundry department are due for a renovation. We need to install an anti-humidity system, and insulate the outside walls. We are renewing all "Winter Sweater" industrial machines, and in the process of building a grains warehouse. To be able to continue our operations during all these renovations, we had to move to a temporary site which we are currently renting.
Important activities we participate in:
Through our "Awareness & Acceptance Program" our residents participate in many joint activities with school kids and university students, during Christmas, Saint Barbara, and Iftars of Ramadan celebrations.
We also celebrate Mother’s day in March with a special event to appreciate all mothers and commemorate late Mrs. Mounira El Solh, founder of Al Amal Institute and holder of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Mother’s Award 2000-2005. All residents join in food preparation, and awesome rehearsals to create lovely dance and music shows.
Our disabled residents also regularly visit arts and cultural centers, such as the Beirut Arts Centre and Beirut By-Bike. They swim in the sea and visit public gardens, among many other activities. These activities develop our residents' appreciation and creativity as well as promote their integration in the community.
Moreover, our residents are also active in public activities, such as participating in the annual "Big Blue", during which they are engaged in the clean up of the Lebanese coastal side. They also take part in demonstrations to defend "Dalia" coast, in the Rawshi area in Beirut, an area of outstanding geological and archaeological importance. These activities help develop their involvement in public affairs and their civic sense and patriotism to help create a better Lebanon.
Nassib El Solh
Al Amal Institute for the Disabled