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Volume 6, No. 3WINTER 2003

Meals, school supplies making a
difference for Lebanese children

Leila, the youngest of three children, is doing better in school since she started receiving daily lunches and school supplies through IOCC’s education program in Lebanon. Photo: IOCC-Lebanon

IOCC's education program in Lebanon provides food for 35,000 children in 180 schools each day, as well as lessons on good health and hygiene, school supplies and school equipment. Here is the story of one Lebanese family that has benefited from the school program, as told to IOCC staff member Naila Ghosn.

Beirut, Lebanon (IOCC) — “Hard times in Lebanon have meant hard times for my family,” said Jamal, who lives in a two-room apartment with her disabled husband, Youssef, and their three children, ages 7, 9 and 10.

“I am running the grocery store previously operated by my husband, who, in order not to stay idle at home, makes gadgets and simple toys that we sell at the shop. This is still not enough, taking into account the high cost of living and the stiff business competition.

“My three children are registered in a public school near home. Their school performance is good, which makes me happy. My children like going to school. Their school achievements have always been above average. But since the beginning of IOCC’s school lunch program, my children are much happier and their grades have improved steadily.

“First, they are delighted with the food they receive. I know that I would have never been able to offer them the same quality, quantity and variety of food on a daily basis. Furthermore, they feel equal with their peers. Some of their classmates used to bring food items that we couldn’t afford. But thanks to the IOCC initiative, my children and even other children feel the same.”

“The school supplies, along with the curriculum, offer a great deal of support for us as parents,” Youssef said, “not to mention the happiness of my children when they receive the supplies. It is like a gift for them. It was always a burden for us to buy materials for three children.”

Jamal and her husband have three children enrolled in IOCC’s education program in Lebanon Photo: IOCC-Lebanon

“IOCC is very well organized,” Jamal said. “Food is always distributed on time. I had the chance to talk with an IOCC monitor on several occasions at my children’s school, and he is very nice and helpful.

The program has made a difference in our lives. Our children are performing better at school; they are well equipped with adequate materials they use in the classroom.

“Furthermore, hygiene is now respected at school after repairs were made by IOCC to the water system and to the restrooms. The parent committee had asked the school director on many occasions to do these repairs, but he always replied that there was not enough money in the budget. I’m glad this is changing.”

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