for Research on Population and Health (CRPH) at the Faculty
of Health Sciences (FHS) launched a study to examine the social context
of health and to provide policy-relevant analysis of the health consequences
of population changes in three neighborhoods in the outskirts of Beirut.
More than a dozen AUB faculty members have been involved in the study.
We have interviewed approximately 3,000 families living in Hay El-Sellom,
Nabaa, and Burj El-Barajneh Camp. I got involved in 2005 as an FHS student
and member of CRPHs Women and Reproductive Health Group, which is
one of the four research teams involved in this study. Based on what we
have learned, we are planning a psychosocial intervention to improve the
lives of married women living in one of the neighborhoods, primarily in
areas related to reproductive and mental health. We will be bringing together
women from the neighborhood and engaging them in relaxation exercises
and discussion groups.
I have really been struck by the deprivation that I have seen. For example,
Hay El-Sellom, which is identified on official maps as olive groves,
is actually the place where an estimated 100,000 people live! It is home
for many Lebanese citizens who moved to the southern suburbs of Beirut
during the years of the civil war.
To ensure effective community involvement from the beginning, we spent
six months in Hay El-Sellom building partnerships with residents and key
people in the community. This sustained contact has given us a more nuanced
understanding of the community and supplemented the survey data. We captured
a lot of information when we administered a general household questionnaire
and then surveyed the elderly, adolescents, and women about reproductive
health and occupational issues. We want to address the needs and views
of the women themselves and ensure that this intervention is sustained
and even increased, not just in this community, but in other places as
"I have really been struck by the deprivation that
I have seen."
Who: Amali Saab, current student (BSN 07)
What: Community Nursing, School of Nursing
As community health nurses, we work in many areas. We work
in the communityin schools, in offices, in community clinicswhere
we have opportunities that we would not have in a hospital. For instance,
a nurse working in an occupational setting is in a position to notice
things that could be done to enhance safety in the workplace. In this
way, you could actually be preventing an accident from happening. You
would also be having a positive impact on productivity and employees
In a healthcare agency, like an outpatient clinic, the community nurse
can promote healthy lifestyle habits by educating patients about what
they can do to prevent disease and to improve their own health. I like
the idea of having the opportunity to prevent disease!
It is the community nurse who conducts house calls and takes
care of a lot of follow-up.
I think Id like to work in community health nursing after I graduate,
particularly in a healthcare agency. I would enjoy working with people
of all ages and from all backgrounds, to educate them about how to deal
with their illnesses whether chronic or acute.
"I like the idea of having the opportunity to prevent
Who: Zeina Abdallah, volunteer and current student (BA
What: Volunteer Outreach Clinic
The Volunteer Outreach Clinic (VOC) was established in October
2001 by a group of volunteers (three medical students, an engineering
student, and a journalist). At the time, I was working at the AUB Medical
Center (AUBMC). I heard about the project and have been involved ever
since. I believe in this project and totally support its objective: to
help those who lack one of the basic requirements for a decent livingadequate
The VOC depends on support from many NGOs and some anonymous donors. Although
we are grateful for the support we have already received, we are always
fundraising and looking for volunteers.
This is an organization that depends on volunteersvolunteers from
many different fields such as medicine and pharmacy and from different
universities, not just AUB. The clinic is open every Saturday from 10
am until 2 pm. We see an average of 25 patients a day. Most of our patients
are people who live in the neighborhood, although others travel great
distances to take advantage of our services. The VOC provides primary
critical healthcare for people who need it, who depend on us. All of the
clinics services are provided for free. Volunteers evaluate the
patients, give them appropriate medication, refer them to AUBMC or to
specialty clinics (if needed), and do lab studiesalso if needed.
Im the treasurer and take care of all the administrative and clerical
work. On Saturdays, I schedule patients and try to keep things running
smoothly at the clinic. I also help organize our fundraising events.
"I believe in this project: to help those who lack
one of the basic requirements for a decent livingadequate healthcare."
Who: Celine Stephan, current student (BArch 08)
What: Saving the Heritage of South Lebanon
Where: Bint Jbeil, south Lebanon
I am a fourth year architecture student at AUB. Usually
3rd and 4th year students take design studios together and are involved
in one project in which each student works on a comprehensive design intervention
to be handed in at the end of the semester. Seventeen of us are involved
in the Bint Jbeil reconstruction project that deals with issues such as
place, memory, and identity.
Bint Jbeil is an old town in south Lebanon, just three kilometers from
the border, which has suffered a lot over the years and was especially
hard hit during the war this past summer. Many residences, commercial
spaces, and a big part of the citys urban fabric were destroyed.
We are trying to figure out which parts of the city should be rehabilitated,
should be savedand to suggest ways that this should be done.
You have to start by analyzingby understandingnot just the
architecture of the city that used to exist but also the social, political,
and economic life of the city. You need to understand how people lived
in that city. You have to understand their lives. Doing this in Bint Jbeila
place that was hit so hard during the warhas been extraordinary.
Walking the streets of Bint Jbeil, I find that I am unable to approach
some of the people who live there and have lived through so much violence
and death, and who have watched others die. One guy came up to me and
begged me to take pictures of the destruction and to report what I was
really seeing with my two eyes. Many people asked us why we were there,
what we were doing, and who we were. We sat with them and explained.
One time when we were doing this, a lady dressed and veiled in black passed
by on the other side of the street. Her name is Karma, they
explained, she lost her entire family, 11 people killed, she is
the only one remaining. We followed her down the street. We had
to speed up to catch her. She stopped and confronted us, wanting to know
who we were. We explained that we were AUB students, that we were asking
everybody about what happened, asking them to share their stories, that
we wanted to understand what the destruction had done to town life, how
fear had invaded peoples spaces and their intimate village life.
She started wailing, her face turned yellow, and was covered with tears.
Her pain cut through us. Her tears kept coming. Standing in front of her,
we didnt know how to react and felt guilty that we had revived these
memories. I put my arm around her shoulder and whispered to her, Im
May God protect you
Slowly, when she could speak again, she turned to us: I cant
even find the houses where my family lived anymore. She explained
how the village had been transformed dramatically from a street/ building
typology to a more scrambled and twisted one. She talked to me about how
people used to live, how neighbors used to interact, how children used
to play together
She also described the Thursday market that used
to take place in the old town of Bint Jbeil and is now taking place in
the new part that was less damaged by the Israeli air strikes. This social
life was so important in Bint Jbeil, she said. Buses filled with people
used to come here. Everyone took part in the social activities that meant
so much for everyone: people with things to sell, shop owners, customers,
visitors, and most especially the inhabitants of Bint Jbeil. We
were so proud of our town, she said. We used to sayBint
Jbeil is the center of the world.
This is our challenge: to reconstruct this city so that it works for those
who live there now while at the same time protecting the urban and architectural
heritage of the city that is threatened by demolition. We think this can
be done but to do so you need to engage with the people who live there,
to listen to them, and to hear their stories.
We used to sayBint Jbeil is the center of the
Who: Rola Yasmine, current student (BSN 07)
What: Community Nursing, School of Nursing
Where: Ataya New School, Beirut
I would like to be the missing link between the patients
discharge to his home and his re-entry into the hospital. The hospitals
in Lebanon are good but often there is no proper follow-up, no home visitations
to assess compliance with the doctors orders, so the
patient ends up back at the hospital.
Of course, community health nurses do much more than ensure that patients
dont need to return to the hospital. We work in communitiesin
schools and community health centers for exampleto promote healthy
lifestyles. I am currently working at the Ataya New School in Beirut where
I am taking care of annual screenings for children, making referrals to
parents if necessary, putting together medical records for the kids, etc.
During the war in July, many nursing students were involved in volunteer
efforts. That was community nursing too.
Not everyone wants to work in community nursing. You need to be prepared
to take decisions independently, be able to solve complex health problems,
and be a self-starter. You need to know a lot before going on these home
visits. Youre not in a fixed environment within a health institution.
You need to be well trained and have some experience before you can become
a community health nurse.
I give a lot of credit to our professorspeople like Professor Arevian.
They do a great job not just in teaching you what you need to know but
also in transmitting their enthusiasm about community nursing, about sharing
with you their excitement about the critically important role that community
health nurses play in a community.
We try to reach different groups in society by involving
students in activities like social work, conflict resolution workshops,
and human rights awareness campaigns
Who: Iman Nuwayhid, associate dean, FHS, principal investigator
What: Understanding Water, Understanding Health: The Case of Bebnine
Where: Bebnine, a coastal town between Tripoli and the Syrian borderand
Our research is centered in Bebnine, a town of 15,000 residents in Akkar.
In 2003, a group of researchers from the Interfaculty Graduate Environmental
Sciences Program began working there because the municipality and many
people were concerned about the quality of water and its impact on their
health. Since then, six AUB faculty researchers and a handful of graduate
students have been working with the municipal council, an advisory board,
and some local physicians, teachers, and school principals who are invited
to participate in our discussions. I lead the effort, which is funded
by the Canadian International Development Research Centre, because the
focus is on health. We jointly defined the project and developed its elements.
We have monitored Bebnines different water supplies (more than 20
source points) for the last 18 months on a monthly basis. We conducted
a door-to-door survey of all households (about 2,400) and developed a
complete digital map of the town. When we found that a major well was
heavily contaminated, the municipality was reluctant to install a filter
for fear of complaints from other neighborhoods, but our powerful evidence
persuaded them. We donated the system, and they installed it.
We also investigated peoples reluctance to connect to the new water
network. Most resist because of the cost of connecting; some lack trust
in a central system; others are simply used to the old system. We argue
that the new system could save money if they figure in the cost of water-related
diseases, illnesses, and lost work days.
I enjoy this kind of meaningful, community-focused research. We listen,
promote awareness, and aim at empowering the community by building its
Who: Marjorie Henningsen, assistant professor of education,
director, Science and Math Education Center (SMEC)
What: Annual Science, Math, and Technology Fair
Where: AUB campus
For 13 years SMEC has reached out to schools all over Lebanon through
its annual Science, Math, and Technology Fair, an event that engages students
from schools around the country in extracurricular science activities.
It also provides a forum for students to share their work with students
from other schools.
The fair is cosponsored by SMEC and the Education Student Society (ESS).
It is a self-supporting project: schools pay to participate. A maximum
number of 25 schools send children from kindergarten through grade 12.
An average of 400-500 kids, parents, and members from the AUB community
attend the fair. We also get a lot of help from AUB faculty and education
graduate students who participate as judges.
I have been involved in the fair for six years. I feel an obligation as
an education faculty member to participate in such events. As educators,
we need to interact with the larger community of teachers and students.
Last year was particularly gratifying for me. It felt great to witness
the increase in the number of female participants. It made me happy to
see a large number of girls winning who had produced excellent projects.
I hope that our criteria for participation in the fair will have some
effect on how students and teachers prepare for projects back at their
schools. That way, students can move away from memorization of material
and start generating their own questions and investigating them. It will
help them develop critical analytic and scientific skills. In the long
run, I hope their participation helps students rise above the average
and makes them good critical thinkers in the future.
I hope their participation helps students rise above
the average and makes them good critical thinkers in the future.
Who: Jacqueline Ayoub, trip organizer
What: Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum
Where: Beirut, the region, and worldwide
I first got involved with the Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum
as a result of a trip that the society organized to Tunisia in 1994. In
June 2000, I was asked to replace Mrs. Maud Khayat as trip organizer.
I hesitated at first because it is a heavy responsibility. It can be quite
difficult to please each and every person even though we are quite a homogeneous
group, but I decided to take on this challenge.
The first trip I organized was to Vietnam. This was a challenge because
the country had just opened for tourism and, as I discovered while doing
research on the internet, it was an area plagued by many diseases. But,
we went and were so surprised by the beauty of the country and its people.
Another difficultand wonderfultrip was the one we took to
Ethiopia on the occasion of the Timkat Feast (Epiphany). It was really
amazing. It felt like we were traveling through time because we came
face to face with the Middle Ages and ancestral religious customs that
are being practiced by the people who live there now.
The Society of the Friends of the AUB Museum is the only group in Lebanon
that offers these types of cultural trips to unusual destinations. Whenever
we can, we arrange to have an expert who knows the history and culture
travel with us. Of course, the museum and the society sponsor many other
activities about archaeology for the community, such as lectures, programs
for children, and the newsletter. In fact, the museum itself is in many
ways a gift to the community. It is such a treasure and especially beautiful
now since its renovation.
Who: Raja Tannous, FAFS professor and principal investigator
What: Business Development Center (BDC)
Where: Bekaa Valley
In the Bekaa, we are setting up one of four Business Development
Centers (incubators) to support Lebanons agro-economy sector (agro-food
industry, agri-business, agro-tourism, and other businesses). I became
involved in this project because I have always believed, while doing my
professional work at AUB, in extending services to the community. In the
past, with others, I helped bring our dieticians to local hospitals; food
scientists to serve the agro-food industries; built community services
at AREC (the Agricultural Research and Education Center) such as a creamery
and a new food processing pilot plant; and established the Lebanese Association
of Food Scientists and Technologists.
Participants in the incubators will be Lebanese graduates, individuals
returning from study abroad, those already engaged in start-up business
projects, and innovative young entrepreneurs. They could be company managers,
farmers, food processors, exporters, food caterers, and IT engineers.
We want to get some brain gain out of the brain drain.
We hope to generate successful companies and speed their growth by providing
them with a variety of business support resources to guarantee financially
viable and freestanding businesses. Recent graduates and executives will
be encouraged to set up their own companies.
The project is operated jointly by AUB, St. Joseph University, and Al-Wafik,
an NGO. Our financial support comes from a grant that the European Union
has made to the Lebanese Governments Ministry of Economy and Trade,
and our human support from a number of experts and consultants who provide
In the short term, we hope to develop 30 new businesses during the coming
year, but in the future we envision ongoing assistance for new businesses
to contribute to the continuing economic growth of the country.
Who: Leila Iliya, president, Womens Auxiliary
What: Womens Auxiliary Nabila Firzli Emergency Fund
Where: Womens Auxiliary Office, behind the Womens Auxiliary
Coffee Shop, at AUBMC
The Nabila Firzli Emergency Fund is funded in large part by the Womens
Auxiliary Coffee Shop. When Nabila Firzli was president, she began looking
for new ways to use our profits. In those days we used to provide TV sets
and other material things for the hospital, but Nabila wanted to do more,
to help the patients themselves.
Eventually she proposed to the 12-member board of the 70-member auxiliary
the establishment of a special fund to help the very neediest patients
financially. We finally agreed on 50 million Lebanese pounds (about $35,000),
and the establishment of the fund was announced at our 50th anniversary
celebration in 2000. The board agreed to name the fund after Nabila.
We help about 400 patients a yearvery, very needy patients who come
to the ER. Many are later admitted to the hospital.
The money for the fund comes from Coffee Shop profits, money from hospital
coffee machines (given to us by the hospital administration), and a yearly
fundraising activity: a brunch, a fashion show, a bridge party, or a lunch.
Friends give us donations too. Once a members dentist husband happened
to mention (anonymously, of coursewe never use names) a case to
a patient who immediately wrote a check for $10,000 to help a 13 year-old
girl who needed spinal surgery. We donate, on average, 40 million Lebanese
pounds per year.
We are hoping the work will go on and on, that we will continue to develop
bonds between AUH and the community of patients we serve.
We help about 400 patients a yearvery, very
needy patients who come to the ER.
Who: Marwa Abou Dayya (MA Public Administration 08),
member and past president
What: AUB UNESCO Club
Where: AUB- both on and off campus
I joined the club in 2004 because I was interested in the type of work
it does and I thought it was important to support its mission. The UNESCO
Club was founded seven years ago to encourage understanding through cultural,
social, and educational activities. We try to reach different groups in
society by involving students in activities like social work, conflict
resolution workshops, human rights awareness campaigns, and by encouraging
people to recognize and talk about ethnic and religious differences. We
have 25-30 active members.
Last year we held a book donation campaign that benefited the House of
Elderly and Disabled. That was one of my best memories of my involvement
with the club. It was touching to see how happy they were to receive these
books, knowing that someone still cares, knows that youre there,
and wants to help. It was so rewarding to see that you can actually draw
a smile on the face of someone who is three years old, or seventy years
old. At that moment, I really felt our message and mission at the UNESCO
Club was being delivered.
I believe that the club will keep on carrying this message in the coming
years. Having freshman and sophomore students joining the club reassures
me that it will remain active and dedicated to a good cause.
Who: Hassan Diab, professor of electrical and computer engineering;
vice president for Regional External Programs (REP)
What: Founding Dhofar University
Where: Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman
REP has been involved in the establishment of Dhofar University (DU) in
the Sultanate of Oman since the project was launched in August 2004. We
provided help in developing its structure as a university with numerous
operating faculties and administrative units.
I have been involved in REP-related projects for many years and took over
as VP for REP on October 1, 2006. Assisting in the founding of DU was
a rejuvenating and challenging job. Despite the fact that we were building
a university using AUB as a benchmark, there were many decisions to be
made, keeping in mind the social and cultural norms as well as the needs
of the country. DU is dedicated to excellence in higher education benchmarked
against international standards, coupled with relevance to local needsboth
present and emerging. A diverse AUB team of 26 members led by former REP
Vice President George Najjar participated in the project. Because DU is
in Salalah, the districts inhabitants now have the opportunity to
pursue higher education close to home. It fills other gaps as well. The
universitys influence has been felt strongly in the Salalah community.
It provides quality higher education in a region where institutes of higher
learning are scarce. In the long term, I expect we will witness significant
development in the community as a result of the presence of an educated
local population. DU has already earned a reputation among private universities
in the region.
REP has extensive experience in assisting with the establishment
and operation of a large number of academic and non-academic institutions
in Lebanon and the region.
Who: Christiane Makarem, Childrens Cancer Center
of Lebanon (CCCL), director of volunteers
What: CCCL Volunteer Unit
Where: St. Jude Childrens Cancer Center of Lebanon, AUBMC
When I came back to Lebanon after 17 years in England, I looked around
for something to do.
Ive always loved children, so I volunteered at the Childrens
Cancer Center in late October 2002. I became director that November. We
now have some 60-70 volunteers, almost 95 percent from universities, most
from AUB, who give a minimum of two hours per week, playing with the children
and keeping them happy while they wait for blood tests, treatment, and
When I started, I realized the children needed the chance to play; we
also entertain them with concerts and musicians. Last year we even had
the Bustan Festival Prague Choir. We bring puppeteers; we bring magicians.
Later I realized the children also need to continue their educationjust
like normal children. Our teachers, especially volunteers such as Hassan
Daouk, run our two-year old education program. We started with the older
children, who have official exams, and now we teach even the very young
The volunteers receive no special funding, but we receive cash donations
and also toys, books, pencils, and crayons. We are supported by everyonethe
management, the Board of Trustees of the CCCL, doctors, nurses, and the
Ministry of Education.
The volunteers help the whole community by demystifying the illness. At
the beginning, some of the parents almost dont dare touch the child.
Then they see the young volunteers treating the children totally normally,
and thats a big accomplishment. The volunteers are not heroes; they
are exceptional young men and women who give their time and affection
to the children... I think the children are the heroes. They are amazing.
The children have a wisdom that we lose with time.
Who: Jala Makhzoumi, associate professor, Plant Sciences, and member
of the project team
What: IBSAR: A Holistic Landscape Approach to Biodiversity Use in Lebanon:
Partnering with Landowners.
Where: Deir Nbouh, north of Zgharta
Wassim Ezzedine, a friend of AUB and an alumni parent, approached the
Initiative for Biodiversity Studies in Arid Regions (IBSAR) in early 2004
asking for a proposal to develop 140 hectares that he owns in the foothills
above Zgharta. Ezzedines aim was to do something that would benefit
the local community while at the same time ensuring the sustainable development
of the environment and its natural resources.
I was a member of an interdisciplinary team of IBSAR academics and professionals
that developed a proposal for a holistic, multifaceted, and community
inclusive three-year project that Ezzedine approved in March 2004. The
goals of the project are to contribute to local livelihoods and private
agri-businesses in marginal landscapes; to encourage the sustainable use
of native plans and natural resources; to protect and revive traditional
rural landscapes and vernacular rural practices; and to promote local
awareness of biodiversity and the sustainable utilization of natural resources.
As a landscape architect, participation in the project has been rewarding
because of the opportunity to apply a holistic, landscape
approach to biodiversity and rural development, which is new to Lebanon.
There has been a recent surge in nature-related tourism in mountain landscapes
in Lebanon. Although commercially viable, tourism needs to be complemented
with initiatives like the one IBSAR developed that aims to revive traditional
agricultural practices while preserving the natural and rural landscapes.
I believe IBSARs project at Deir Nbouh can serve as a successful
model for rural development in marginal areas of Lebanon, one that is
responsive to the natural and cultural heritage.
Who: Professor Mounir Mabsout, former chair of the Civil and Environmental
Engineering Department, founder of the CE Volunteer Camp
What: CE Volunteer Camp
Where: Mishmish, Akkar
Last years CE Volunteer Camp was a pilot experimenta modest
effort to encourage students to dedicate themselves to public service
for eight full days in June 2006. The camp was located in the Akkar. A
group of our civil engineering students stayed in the community of Mishmish,
where they helped people with civil works (namely construction) projects.
Fifteen AUB students were at the site for the whole period. Dr. Salah
Sadek (who is the advisor of the Civil Engineering Society) and I went
a couple of times to oversee their work. What made this such a memorable
experience for me was its true success. All the people involvedwhether
they were students or villagerswere very receptive despite their
differences. The interaction between them was great!
The mission of civil engineering is inherently related to peoples
lives and this project helps to fulfill that mission. Working in Mishmish
gave our students an experience of a different kind. Most of the time
they train in companies that are well funded, but it is seldom that they
get involved in a volunteer project at a disadvantaged site. The students
also volunteered to tutor Mishmish students for their official government
Brevet exam, at the request of the municipality. AUB students also teamed
with a group of village scouts to clean up the forest around Mishmish.
I initiated this project because I am always looking for ways to involve
students in real life projects, something different than the theory we
cover in classes.
Many students are planning to join next years initiative. With more
volunteers, well be able to assist in more reconstruction and environmental
projectstwo areas in which there is a lot of work that needs to
be done in Lebanon.
The CE Volunteer Camp is a joint initiative by the Department of Civil
and Environmental Engineering at AUB through the Civil Engineering Society
(CES) and the Economic and Social Fund for Development at the Council
for Development and Reconstruction (ESFD/CDR).