In March 2020, in response to the economic crisis and the lockdown due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the AUB Neighborhood Initiaitve launched the Al Jar Lil Jar campaign to support needy families in Ras Beirut with our AUB faculty and staff members. The initiative coordinated with the local makhateer as well as some neighbors, to compile a list of needy families in Ras Beirut who have been severely impacted by the crisis. We identified 125 families (85 in April and 40 more in May) in dire need living around campus: many had lost their jobs before the Covid-19 crisis, many used to work on a daily basis and have lost their income due to the lockdown. Some have not paid their rent for months, many are elderly people living alone or with unemployed family members, but all desperately need support to buy food, medication and basic needs.
We are very thankful for the faculty members who have committed to a monthly contribution so we can sustain this campaign for the coming difficult months. We are connecting every contributing AUB community member to one family, anonymously, with a brief account of the state of the family they are helping so that the campaign is more impactful and hopefully more sustainable.
In April, we arranged for the first set of vouchers that were used at any COOP to get food and supplies, except for tobacco and alcohol. We distributed the vouchers at the Moukhtars' offices, supporting 85 families, each with 2 vouchers to cover their very basic needs for the month.
In May we received a bigger amount of donations, which helped us reach even more families. This time we were able to help 125 families with cash donations.
In June we extended the call to our neighbors and many responded with great appreciation and support, which allowed us to reach 144 families that month.
With the generosity of our donors - faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and neighbors - we were able to support 177 families in July and 124 families in August. In September 2020, we collaborated with Moukhtar Ahmad Shatila and Moukhtar Ramadan Ghalayini to assist 201 families – half of whom included elderly people; more than a quarter were families with children under the age of 18. In November, we were able to support 209 families. As of December 2020, we had raised and distributed a total of 182.8 million LBP.
In March 2021, we were contacted by Moukhtar Abdel Bassit Itani with a list of needy elderly people, mostly widowed women, who were living in Ras Beirut and in dire need, so we reassessed our list to include them and others who were especially vulnerable.
As of May 31, 2021, we have distributed donations totaling 343.8 million LBP to 209 Ras Beirut families.
The mukhtars Michel Bekhazi and Wafiq Shehab, who are helping us in the distribution of the funds and in identifying new needy families, have sent a thoughtful note (below) to thank all those who supported this initiative.
As Dr. Huda Zurayk wrote supporting this campaign: "AUB is helping its needy neighbors and that is a significant part of the human role of AUB".
We hope that more contributors will join so we can expand our campaign. We are sure the number of needy families will increase as the crisis continues and more jobs are lost. Any extra money will go to help some families pay part of their unpaid rent. A few families are threatened with having to leave their homes, and we recently started to have homeless people, once Ras Beirutee residents.
To facilitate the process, we have allocated a white box with our logo inside the main gate next to the security guard booth where contributions can be dropped in an envelope with the name of the contributor on it. Contributors will be updated monthly by email on the progress of the campaign.
It is heartbreaking to see the challenges many of our neighbors and others all over the country are facing. But it is truly heartwarming to see the AUB community coming together to support our Ras Beirut vulnerable community. We are in this together and only together can we overcome these difficult times.
This too shall pass.
Makhatir Thank you notes