The current refugee crisis is the greatest humanitarian disaster since WWII. As “collateral damage” of the Syrian Civil War, nearly 3 million Syrians have found temporary havens inside Lebanon. Half of these families are trapped in camps set up by the United Nations. They cannot go forward. They cannot go home. For them to survive, relief agencies provide tents for housing and daily portions of food and water. These camps are places where hope dies quickly.
Walid’s Fund identified seven camps in South Lebanon where the top agencies once visited but withdrew, making the region an “aid desert.” There are 1000 families in these camps. One half of the residents are children - 40% of which are not attending school. Free schooling is available through agreement with the Ministry of Education of Lebanon – so long as families pay $20 per child per month for bus transportation. Without family income, children remain in the camps, idle.
The situation is grim: adults have little to do but wait for hand-outs from the Lebanese Red Cross. Children are at home, unschooled, playing outdoors. The situation is ripe for exploitation.
Be The Change Program
Productive job skills make all the difference – for the adults and for the children. Adults need skills to improve conditions in the camps and when they return to the Syrian cities, villages and farms they once called home. For some, income from employment will pay for bus transportation for their children – only $20 a month per child. Walid’s Fund provides critical skills training and income opportunities for residents of seven camps in South Lebanon where aid is most desperately needed.
A New Approach
Since 2016 we have worked with the refugees in South Lebanon. In 2017, Dr Willard White (Walid) and Khaled Jurdi founded Walid's Fund - a 501(c)(3), a US-based nonprofit for the purpose of helping Syrian refugees become self-reliant through skills development. In May/June 2018 we trained sixty-seven Syrian refugees in six camps. In December 2018 we trained Eighty-seven refugees in the largest single camp called Marj-Al Khoukh. All participants now have skills they can use and many are using these skills to feed their families. We receive video reports showing skills in use with their families and friends and, for some, as small business enterprises within the camps. The first skills include barbering and sewing/dress-making. See video link below.
Watch this video to see how our program "Be The Change" is helping Syrian refugees become self reliant.
After participating in our first program in spring 2018, eleven families started their own mini shops inside the camps. Two individuals were hired by local Lebanese businesses. This means thirteen families with fifty children now have the means to send their children to school. The community is very proud of the early benefits of our program. With continued support, we are prepared to add three new skills to the training menu. Our goal is to double and then triple the rate of business enterprise in the camps.
Taking the Model to Scale and Adding New Skills: May 2019 (3-weeks program)
1. Replicate the two previous programs and add new skills: carpentry, soap-making, and knitting/needlework.
2. Use the tents, equipment and supplies purchased by Walid’s Fund for the first two rounds of training.
3. Add new skills to our training menu. This will increase the cost of the program. Meanwhile, new skills like needlework and soap-making bring the potential for product sales and income.
For this, Walid’s Fund established a separate nonprofit in Lebanon to handle potential income for the refugees and for our training programs.
Watch this video to see how our first program Be The Change 1 worked in May/June 2018.
How Can You Help
Walid’s Fund brings hope to those living without hope. We have undertaken a project that no one has yet attempted – to tap innate talent and skills to promote self-reliance. Some launch new enterprises within the camps and others choose employment outside the camps. We believe in the power of the human spirit – resilient even amid great suffering.
We raised $25K for the May/June 2018 program. We raised another $25K for the December 2018 program. Now we are seeking $25K in new gifts to expand the program with newly added skills training in May 2019 in the biggest camp in South Lebanon - Marj Al Khoukh.
Results from our 2018 projects encourage continued investments in these 1000 refugee families in south Lebanon. Our vision is to take our training program to the next level: enterprise development to generate income for individuals from within the camps, through employment in the region, and through product sales on the open market.
This video summarizes our second program Be The Change 2 in the largest camp in Southern Lebanon - Marj Al Khoukh – December.
This video summarizes our second program Be The Change 2 in the largest camp in S Lebanon - Marj Al Khoukh - December 2018
Walid's Fund cannot operate without gifts from many concerned and caring individuals. Please consider a first-time gift – or, for many, an additional gift for our 2019 spring project.
For more information and video blogs from the camps, please visit our website: www.walidsfund.org