The Executive Director of the René Moawad Foundation, MP Michel Moawad, conducted an inspection tour in Jezzine, accompanied by the Foundation’s General Director Mr. Nabil Moawad and a delegation from the Foundation. They were briefed on a series of projects the Foundation has implemented in the region since 2015, and others currently under implementation. These projects are part of the “Baladi” program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program has contributed to the creation of more than 35 job opportunities in the district of Jezzine, benefiting about 11,000 people. In addition to “Baladi”, RMF is also working on the program “Promoting Lebanese fruit and vegetable exports to European and regional markets” funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is active in regions across the country, including Jezzine.
During his Jezzine tour, Moawad also signed a memorandum of understanding with several southern municipalities to begin new development projects for water pumping, solar energy electricity production, and rural tourism. In addition to this, a memorandum of understanding with the White Land Foundation was also signed within the framework of the “Ma’an” (“Together”) program. RMF launched this program to stand with the Lebanese people in the face of the tragedies seen in several Lebanese districts because of the difficult economic situation and the spread of COVID-19.
The projects implemented in the Jezzine district include setting up an olive processing center in Roum, equipping Labaa, Qattine, Hadab, and Mashmoush with solar water heaters, establishing an industrial kitchen to manufacture local products in Bikassine, promoting ecotourism in the Jezzine region by establishing a public park and a playground, and establishing a chocolate factory in Qaituli. In addition is the project to boost Lebanese fruit and vegetable exports to European and regional markets in Al-Harf, Bisri, Al-Mathafa farm, Saffari, Anan, Karkha, Kfarjra, Jensnaya, Wadi Ba’noudin, Labaa, Marah Al-Habas, Kfar Falous, Baysour, Al-Maharebia, Majidil, Wadi Al-Lemon, Qituli, Arai, and Wadi Jezzine. Last but not least, RMF is working on a pioneer project aimed at building strong partnerships with the Federation of Jezzine Municipalities and local unions and associations to increase access to and guidance in Lebanon’s business registration and licensing process.
Ain Ed Delb
The tour began in Ain El-Delb at the new branch of the René Moawad Foundation, which is responsible for southern regions and serves as a starting point for several upcoming projects in collaboration with the municipalities of Asnar, the Nabatieh district; Arzoun, Tyre district; Al-Abaseya, Tyre district; and Qsaybeh, Nabatieh district. The Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the heads of the aforementioned municipalities to produce solar power, improve electricity networks, and establish initiatives that promote rural tourism.
During the meeting, the heads of the municipalities discussed their conditions. Moawad briefed them about the concerns and problems from which the municipalities suffer, in addition to the agricultural situation in each town. He stressed the importance of food security, especially amid the country’s current economic conditions, and the importance of partnering with local authorities – that is, the municipalities. They are essential partners in the process of development and growth, marking the start of a long-term cooperation between institutions and these municipalities that is based on transparency, professionalism, and sound implementation.
For this occasion, Ansar mayor Salah Samih spoke about the importance of the project that his municipality signed with the René Moawad Foundation as part of the Baladi Program. “We thank the René Moawad Foundation for the generous gesture and the initiative that it has taken to help us during this difficult economic crisis the country is going through,” Samih said. He pointed out that the solar energy project for Well No. 4 in Ansar would provide power to about a third of the area, or about 7,000 people.
As for the mayor of Arzun, Hussein Sharif Al-Husseini, he thanked the Foundation for its support to the municipality and the alternative energy project in light of the massive power outages and the high cost of living. He indicated that this project aims to reduce the burdens off of the townspeople’s shoulders.
The mayor of Al-Qusaybah, Muhammad Yassin, thanked the Foundation for equipping the town with an artesian well that works on solar energy. This saves the town the cost of operating a diesel generator, especially in light of these difficult economic conditions.
The head of the Al-Abaseya municipality, Ali Musa Ezzedine, also praised the distinctive gesture made by the “René Moawad Foundation” and its standing by the municipalities. He said: “The project to establish a rural tourism zone in Harj Al-Abbasiya will create job opportunities for its people, and the region will be a tourist destination for all Lebanese who can come enjoy its stunning views.”
Moawad and the accompanying delegation then visited the Monastery of Our Lady of Machmoucheh, where he was received by Professor Amal Abu Zaid, Father Bassam Habib – head of the Monastery of Our Lady of Mashmousha, Jezzine – and a number of monastery’s patriarchs and residents. The meeting was an occasion to discuss the monastery’s affairs and its history. The delegation also toured the monastery and got to know its departments.
Afterward, Moawad and Abu Zeid headed to Machmoucheh’s municipality building, where they were greeted by the mayor and a crowd of people from the area. In Machmoucheh, the René Moawad Foundation had implemented a project to install solar water heaters within the Baladi program in partnership with the municipality. The mayor gifted Moawad a traditional sword from Jezzine as a token of gratitude and another to the General Director of the Foundation, Nabil Moawad. He also gave a speech, saying: “This is one of the best projects to have been implemented in the town. About 36 houses and families have benefited from it, and it has contributed to alleviating the financial burdens suffered by citizens and to securing a clean environment thanks to the low consumption of electricity.” He thanked the René Moawad Foundation and USAID for their efforts.
Moawad also went on an inspection tour of a public park in Jezzine, the establishment of which RMF had contributed to. He was received by Mr. Amal Abu Zaid and the mayor of Jezzine, Khalil Harfoush, who said “I thank the René Moawad Foundation, its President and the MP Michel Moawad, Professor Nabil Moawad, and all their teams. They worked hand in hand to ensure the success of this project, which has benefited 10 families directly and thousands of families indirectly. We are proud of this cooperation and hope for more in the future.”
On his part, Moawad said, “I am honored, today, to visit Jezzine, the region whose history is rooted in Lebanon’s history, a region which has paid the dear price of occupation, which severed its ties with the rest of the country, and the price of post-occupation neglect, which made this region a place where we can accomplish a lot. The developing partnership between RMF and Jezzine is neither new nor sudden. Rather, it started in 2015, when we carried out several projects in Jezzine as part of the Baladi Program funded by USAID. We have implemented seven projects in the district, and soon we will implement new projects. In addition, Jezzine has a share of the project “Promoting Exports Lebanese Fruits and Vegetables to European and Regional Markets” funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and implemented by the “René Moawad Foundation” on all Lebanese lands.”
He added: “I undertook my tour in the region today for three reasons: The first is the need to conduct a field visit of the projects that are nearing completion to ensure their smooth operation alongside the municipalities and residents. Secondly, we are about to launch an array of new projects in the region. The municipalities of Ansar, Al-Abbasiya, Arzun and Al-Qasiba, our office in Ain El-Delb, and 35,000 people will benefit from those projects. In Jezzine, where we were able to secure 35 jobs through our projects, in addition to benefiting 11,000 people, and, in the south in general, we reached a total of 16,000 people.” He spoke about four projects related to pumping water, solar power production, and rural tourism. They are part of 15 comprehensive projects that the Foundation will carry out in the south, benefiting 35,000 people, over the next two years, specifically in the districts of Tyre, Nabatieh, and Marjayoun. “As for the third reason, we signed a strategic agreement with the White Land Foundation, which comes under the “Ma’an” (“Together”) program that RMF launched to confront the spread of the COVID-19 virus on the one hand, and on the other to stand by our people in more than one Lebanese region, including Jezzine, as they go through the tragedies facing them. This strategic partnership, which we hope will gradually expand, will start from the “Ma’an” project and will include 3 main aspects: “First, food security and providing food aid for the people of Jezzine that reaches about a thousand food rations per month. Secondly, medicine and medical protection; and thirdly, undertaking agricultural projects for farmers and families in need, providing them with a sustainable income.
He added: “We have allocated up to 700,000 thousand dollars to this project, which will be divided between the René Moawad Foundation and the White Land Foundation. We provided 20% of the funds and the White Land Foundation provided 80%. That is, for every dollar invested by RMF, the White Land Foundation will invest four dollars, which will allow us to expand the number of beneficiaries in Jezzine. He added: “We will launch this project immediately in the hope that our collaboration will grow to include other sustainable development and agriculture initiatives.
Moawad also stopped by the White Land Foundation, where he and the head of the Foundation, Naji Abou Zied, signed a memorandum of understanding on ensuring food security by providing aid to the people of Jezzine with around one thousand meals a month, providing medicine and medical protection, and launching agricultural initiatives to help micro agriculturalists and families in need earn a sustainable income. The occasion was also an opportunity for Moawad to meet and talk to the people of the area who had been waiting for him.
For his part, Naji Abu Zeid said: “We are proud to launch this collaboration between the White Land Foundation in Jezzine and the René Moawad Foundation, which will benefit between 1,200 and 1,500 families in Jezzine. He also added: “This memorandum of understanding is the fruit of the White Land Foundation’s hard work serving the region since 2009. Thanks to the efforts we have made, we have reached a position that enables us to add to our partners, whereby they include international and local institutions, which allows us to serve the community of Jezzine. This is especially significant amid the difficult circumstances we are currently facing.
He added: “We will officially launch our collaborative initiative with RMF next week, and we will focus on three central objectives over the next four years: food security, healthcare, and sustainability in domestic agriculture and the husbandry of poultry and other animals.
Moawad also visited Al-Aaichyeh, where he met the head of the municipality Jean Afif and discussed ways in which they could collaborate. Afterwards, a lunch was held at Mr. Charbel Aoun’s residence.
Qaituli was the last stop on Moawad’s tour. There, he visited the municipality and met the head of the municipality Antione Al-Mosin. Mr. Mosin told him about the condition in the municipality and the needs of its people. He then took a tour of the USAID-funded and RMF-operated chocolate factory. He then met the director of Jazz, Charbel El Hage.
Mr. Mosin thanked RMF saying: “this project aims to keep the people of the town here, and it will provide 18 people with employment.”