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Partnerships

Lebanon, Middle East

LEB02 - TFF - Mothers and Babies Ministry


Key Partnership Information:

  • Partnership Ref.: LEB02

  • Commenced: 25/02/2020

  • Funding Status: Partially Funded

  • Partnership Type: Orphans & Vulnerable Children

  • Funding Size: $3,000 - $7,999

  • Annual Budget: US$ 6,600


Current Partnership Impact:

  • 90 families are being assisted


Other Partnership Information:


Partnership Overview

tough lifeZahle is the city in the heart of the Be'qaa Valley. This has been a troubled hot spot for many years during the internal conflicts in Lebanon and latterly the war in Syria. It is close to the border with Syria and a natural crossing point. Refugees have been flooding through here for years. For many years it was largely a Christian city. Izdihar and her husband Riad brought their family up here. 

Around 2006 Izdihar became aware that there were many poor families living in the community who were struggling to make ends meet. They were having babies and these babies were not being cared for because the parents did not have either the resources or the knowledge required. This resulted in much infant mortality, malnutrition and chronic illness. So, Izdihar began to visit them and help them. There were so many that she had to use a room at a local Baptist church to care for them and help. This went on for some time and the work grew into a ministry which was officially registered as Together for the Family in 2010. She talked to friends in the West about what was going on and raised support to help these families.  

Then in 2011 the war began in Syria and the first refugees started to come across the border to Lebanon. The wave became a flood and before long a tsunami. The people brought many issues with them so Izdihar began helping and got drawn further and further into other issues besides the care of babies. When BHW first visited in 2019 they were operating the following ministries:

1) Carpentry training: This commenced at the end of 2019. A shipping container has been fitted out with tools and benches to train men and teach them to make little toys and small items. This is for training and for sale. They have hired a Syrian man to do the training.

tough place2) Sewing: There are two locations with 20 students in each course. Five from each course are selected to do a further course in design and they go on to work in a business. The course is accredited. This training is largely preparing them for when they go back to Syria as they cannot legally work for money. They get a sewing machine at graduation and can sew for their family and friends and earn a small amount. 

3) Clinic: A retired doctor is paid to come and give free health clinics three days per week. He is Syrian/Lebanese so is allowed to work in Lebanon. There is also a dental clinic and Izdihar's sister from Damascus comes four days per month to operate it. 

4) Trauma counselling: Around 200 people at any one time are involved in various forms of counselling groups. They do a lot of art therapy. This is the primary intervention and the primary reason for their existence. They also run camps for young people and children and they particularly want assistance with these.  

tough life

5) Mothers and babies: This is the original vision and continues to be a really important aspect of their work. They give training, counselling, food supplements for babies, and medical assistance. Their needs are huge and their living conditions are very basic, especially in winter. 

6) Hair and beauty training for women. 

7) Meetings for teen boys and girls: This starts by helping them to adjust to life in Lebanon and also how to look after themselves living in a camp. They are terribly dangerous places often ruled by radicalized thugs. They do counselling, training and have basketball, music, sports and games for them. 

8) Education for traumatized and children with disorders who struggle to learn: There are 30 children and they use a container as a classroom. One is operating and they are trying to get another one operating. 

9) Music school: They teach children and young people singing, drums and guitar. 

10) Meals: Many of those who come to their programmes do not eat well and are very malnourished. They provide meals from a kitchen for those in most need of extra feeding, especially those who are unwell or unable to care well for themselves or their families.  

As you can see, there is a lot going on in addition to the mothers and babies ministry. However, that aspect of the work has been crowded out and the urgency of all the other work has meant that there are limited funds available to put towards it.   

History of Partnership

BHW's New Partnership Facilitator has been communicating with Izdihar since 2017. Somehow a TFF newsletter was sent to him but Izdihar has no idea where she got his address from! Soon after he received the email, BHW's Middle East Partnership Facilitator was going to visit Lebanon. He went to visit with Izdihar for a day and came back with a firm recommendation that we should follow this up. Communication continued for about 18 months after that visit until in October 2019 BHW's New Partnership Facilitator was able to visit. He spent 4 days with Izdihar looking at all the activities going on at TFF. It was very obvious that these are wonderful people with such passion to care for the vulnerable in their community.  

tough place to live

In January 2020 the BHW Executive approved commencing a partnership with Together for the Family, initially financially supporting their ministry to newborn children.  

Beneficiaries

The newborn children of the poorest women, mainly living in temporary accommodation. There are many of them living in informal camps wherever they can find space, often having to pay exorbitant rents. 

The women and families also benefit from the inputs.   

What We Like About The Partnership

These people are amazing. They are full of compassion and so caring. They spend their lives on behalf of these poor women.
They are already deeply involved in this, it is Izdihar's life.
They have a good team of volunteers.
They keep good records and are good at communicating.
They are working with the desperately poor.

 

Key People

Leadership Profile

Mrs Izdihar Kassis, Executive Director, Together For the Family
amazing ladyIzdihar and her family are Syrian Americans. They live in Zahle, Be'qaa Valley. Their son is a biophysicist in the US and their daughter is studying in Beirut. 

The work began with Izdihar funding it by selling her paintings, she is an artist. The ministry operates out of their house, there are two temporary facilities on rented land and they use converted shipping containers. Every cent given goes to a child, a teenager or a woman in need. Many times they use their own money to meet the needs presented at their door. This is costing them a great deal in many ways. 

Izdihar is a ball of energy but since she became involved in the trauma counselling she carries a heavy burden. The stories she hears constantly has deeply affected her. 

Izdihar's husband is the International Director for the Langham Scholars Program of Langham Partnership and the International Director of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE). Dr Kassis also serves as a member of the international board for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) and was Associate Professor of Old Testament at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Beirut, Lebanon. 

 

Other People Involved

All these people including the Executive Director are volunteers. 

Chairperson of the Board:  Mr Elie al-Kharrat, Lawyer and General Secretary for InterVarsity Lebanon and Syria 

Board Members:
Revd George Kopti, Pastor
Mrs Samer Mshaileh, Educator
Mrs Lydia Awabdeh, Teacher
Mrs Dolly Deeb, Journalist

 

Vision And Annual Strategy

tough life

Vision 

The vision is to care for mothers and newborn babies for the first year of their lives to give them a good start to life. 

Strategy

Over 5,000 families have been helped since the beginning of the work. There are hundreds at any one time being assisted. 

They visit the families in their homes and help by supporting the mothers, helping them with breast feeding and supplying basic essentials. They teach the women how to care for babies and hygiene. They talk about feeding and nutrition and supply supplements when required. They encourage and pray with the women and provide medicines if required. In some cases they supply blankets, clothing and heating in winter when there is snow on the ground. 

In 2019 they helped with approximately 90 babies.   

 

Annual Budget

BHW's annual budget is US$6,600. This is a discretionary fund to go where the need is greatest and will be split between:
- food supplements for newborn babies including infant formula
- nappies, baby clothing and bedding
- medication for babies including vaccinations (because people do not have official papers they have to pay for this)
- ongoing medication and treatment for a few older children who have chronic illnesses 

 

Personal Testimony

Real "Life Change" Stories

tough life

The timing indicated below is at year end, 2019. 

Rahaf is one month old. She lives with her parents and four siblings in a rented tiny apartment. Her dad works as a janitor. The family comes from a village near Hama, Syria. The war forced the family to escape to Lebanon after their house was completely destroyed and Rahaf's uncle was killed. TFF provides Rahaf with formula milk as her mother is unable to breastfeed her.

 

Maria is 20 days old. She lives with her parents, grandfather and aunts in a garage consisting of two rooms, kitchenette and a bathroom. Her dad is unable to work due to terminal health issues. Her grandfather works in farming to earn a living.                       

 

Laura is 10 days old. She lives with her parents, grandparents and two sisters. The whole family arrived in Lebanon 4 years ago. They escaped their small village north of Aleppo due to heavy fighting. Her dad works at a gas station and is hardly able to earn enough money to pay the rent for their small apartment next to the gas station. Her grandmother is paralyzed. One of her aunts tries to offer some help. 

tough place to live

 

Fatima is three months old. She lives with her parents and three siblings. Her father also takes care of two children of his deceased brother. The family arrived in Lebanon 7 years ago coming from Hama countryside. The family lives in a tent in Be'qaa Valley due to the father's work on a farm.

 

Oula is only one week old. She lives with her parents and 4 brothers. They were forced to leave their home in Ephrin, north of Aleppo. They live now in a tent in Karak, Be'qaa Valley. Oula's dad has a disability so he is unable to work. Her mother tries to earn some money by doing cleaning work. A year ago, Oula's 16-year old brother was killed in a car accident near their tent. The family is still traumatized due to this sad incident.                   

 

Ali is two and half months old. His parents were so delighted to have him after 5 years of marriage. His mother suffered several miscarriages due to health problems. The family comes from a Kurdish town near Aleppo. The family lives in one room and is hardly able to survive.     

tough life      

Jana is one and a half months old. She is the fourth daughter in her family. The family arrived in Lebanon 7 years ago coming from Homs. Their area was badly hit and they lost everything they owned there. The grandmother lives with the family in a tiny apartment in Ablah, Be'qaa Valley. Both the grandmother and the mother work, when work is available, in the fields to support the family.

 

Jamal is 40 days old. He was born prematurely so the family was under a huge financial burden to pay for hospital expenses. Jamal's father used to own an old pick-up truck that he used to sell vegetables and fruits but had to sell it to pay Jamal's medical expenses. Jamal lives with his parents, two young sisters and his grandmother. His father works now in farming but finds it very hard to afford the needs of the family along with the monthly rent of US$200. The family arrived in Lebanon 6 years ago after their home near Aleppo was destroyed.                 

 

Alaa is one week old. She is one among 9 siblings. One of her brothers suffers a terminal illness. Her family comes from Der Ez-zour, a city that was badly hit so they had to flee to Lebanon 5 years ago. Alaa's dad is married to two wives and they all (12 persons) live in a tent. The tent's rent is US$100 per month. Alaa's dad does not work, but his two wives work in the fields to earn some money.                 

tough life

  

Nourhan is 15 days old. She lives with her parents and a sister. However, the family lives with an extended family of 12 persons in a tent. Nourhan's family arrived in Lebanon 4 years ago after their house in Hasakeh, north of Syria was badly bombed and their married son who was a soldier had been killed leaving behind 4 daughters. Nourhan's dad does his best to find a job to earn a living but this has been very difficult. 

 

 



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