“Mostafa is a sport volunteer in the Real Madrid Foundation’s programme with children aged 10 and 11. He has been involved in Fratelli since the project started in Rmeileh and still attends the vocational training and English courses we organise. Mostafa sees his volunteering as an opportunity to give back what he has learnt over the years. The children, for their part, see in him someone like them, who speaks their language and understands what they are experiencing. At the same time, Mostafa is a role model for them. Children and young people see in him what they will be able to do one day when they grow up: give to others what they have given to them.”
The Fratelli Project started its activity in Lebanon in 2015 in Bourj Hammoud, an area around Beirut. It was the first step of an idea that had emerged between the Institutes of the Lasallians and the Marist Brothers, responding to the call of Pope Francis to go to the peripheries. Brothers Andrés Porras, a Lasallian, and Miquel Cubeles, a Marist, gave shape to this call from the two Institutes. One year later, the activities began at our centre in Rmeileh.
We are now in the eighth year of this project which aims to insert refugees and asylum seekers into the society through school and employment; to provide psychosocial support to children, young people and adults who participate in our activities; to train our beneficiaries through sport, personal and social skills; to build bridges with families, other entities and society to help live outside Fratelli what we live inside.
We have around twenty programmes for children, young people and adults, especially women. They can be divided into three types: educational, psycho-social support and vocational training. Among the educational programmes we have a pre-school section, a basic education section for those who have been out of the school system or have never entered it, a school support section for those who are already in school, and a section for Arabic, English and computers for young adults. In the psycho-social area we have groups for women, boys, girls, children, sports programmes, training for motherhood. And in the vocational training area there are courses in hairdressing for men and women, cooking, electricity, mechanics and sewing. Every year about 1200 people pass through Fratelli between all our programmes (some of them have several cycles). Our aim is to enable them to go to school or to find a job, as well as to provide them with tools to face life and its difficulties. It is nice to hear from the people who participate in the Project that beyond all this, attending the groups and courses helps to regain the dignity of being a person.
Omran is a 14 year old boy who lives very close to our centre in Rmeileh. His families, composed by 6 people, is living in a house no more than 40 square metres in size. It is located in the middle of a field where they grow – for the owner of the land – various vegetables according to the season. A few days ago I met him and he told me that he always works (he helps his father with the work in the fields). But what made me happy is that I often see him passing in front of our centre with his father who takes him to school. He was in Fratelli for several years. Now he is in the official school. But he also comes to the sports programmes, to the afternoons activities we open for football and to the summer camps. Mostafa and Omran are just a few examples, like Mahmoud, Seifedin, Yamamah, Rama, Malak, Mariam… and so many others. When we see their lives and believe that they have the tools to build their own future, we realise that all the effort that so many have put into Fratelli Project since its inception makes sense.
Juan Carlos Fuertes
Project Manager of the Fratelli Project