Monday, April 07, 2008

BASSMA: A Little Bit of Help to Draw an Eternal Smile

A Little Bit of Help to Draw an Eternal Smile
By Cynthia Abou Jaoudé
January 27, 2008

BASSMA (“the smile” in Arabic): a name that spreads joy and security in the heart of every family in need. This organization saw the light thanks to the devotion of a group of young Lebanese. BASSMA is a dream that is coming true. However, with a little bit of support, it will grow much more than you can imagine…What is BASSMA? What are its objectives?

BASSMA is a Lebanese humanitarian organization that saw the light in November 2002. It mainly aims at rehabilitating the most deprived Lebanese families. This apolitical and non religious organization was born to give back hope to young Lebanese who feel emptiness in their daily lives and want to be useful and active in their society.

Why did BASSMA choose to take care of families? Aren’t there any other social categories in need? “Of course there are”, says the founder of BASSMA, “but the family is the root of every society. If the family is in good shape, her members will be at ease in their community”. Moreover, BASSMA chose to collaborate with young people because “they are the main members of our community and the future of our country, thus they must contribute to its rehabilitation after all those years of war”. The members of this organization are all volunteers who live either in Lebanon or abroad (almost 80 members). Each one of them helps this organization according to his capacities.

At the beginning, BASSMA’s action plan was restricted: the first project “Paquet de sourire” was only limited to the distribution of food aid to deprived populations. Little-by-little, BASSMA’s field of action grew and this organization started up with more developed assistance projects at many levels (Education, employment, medical care…).

BASSMA chooses families according to a certain number of criteria. Once the family is selected, she benefits from all the services of this organization. Each family is helped by two volunteers who assist her at all levels (they are in general one father and one mother). The relationship between volunteers and families are personalized and not only based on voluntary and social work. The members organize numerous activities for the families (beach, movies…). They are in direct contact with her and they share her laughter and her pain.

In 2005, BASSMA launched a project entitled « KIDSWAP ». It aims at coordinating between private and public schools by the means of common social activities. The objective of this project is to make young people understand the gaps between the regions of Lebanon, through the activities they accomplish with BASSMA families. This project was approved by the World Bank and five private schools are already part of it!

Moreover, during the war of July 2006, BASSMA established a “War Plan” to help the refugees at all levels. After this initiative, BASSMA who included only thirty-five families, found herself looking after one hundred thirty-five!

How does this little community finance herself? Since 2002, BASSMA has been supported by SGBL. This bank is still a main partner that helps BASSMA in financing all the projects. The ESA (Ecole Supérieure des Affaires) also supported this organization at different levels. In 2006, after the War of July, BASSMA received a donation from BNP-Paris bas (Switzerland), thanks to its great job with the refugees and the homeless families. Furthermore, BASSMA raises funds through the events she organizes (like karaoke nights, beach parties, dinners, and a Halloween party at Sursock that was a huge success). This organization also counts on universities, for they organize exhibitions and cake sales and collect money to help the families.

In December 2007, a dinner took place at Music Hall to celebrate the fifth anniversary of this organization. Everything was great and the collected funds encouraged BASSMA to go further and further. Also, a credit card “SGBL-BASSMA” is being prepared in order to finance the future projects of this organization. The holder of this card benefits from numerous offers.

In addition, according to an old saying, Give a “family” a fish; you have fed her for today. Teach a “family” to fish; and you have fed her for a lifetime: that’s why BASSMA aims at helping the families become financially autonomous and independent after a certain time. “The family cannot depend on us forever, otherwise our work will be incomplete”, says the founder of BASSMA. Therefore, many short-term education and employment projects are being prepared. Professional training seminars will also be organized, in collaboration with INJAZ, to help the family members find a job. Many courses and workshops will be held as well in collaboration with technical schools.

But despite all its achievements, this organization suffers from a big lack of volunteers. BASSMA is still very young. Therefore, it needs moral and material support to make progress…Lebanon needs BASSMA and BASSMA needs volunteers and donators in Lebanon or abroad.

BASSMA urgently needs family parents, coordinators between BASSMA and other organizations like the Lebanese Scouts Association (especially concerning food banks). Regarding employment assistance, BASSMA needs coordinators with technical schools for the professional trainings. It also needs animators for the employment seminars, and coordinators between schools for the project “KIDSWAP”, preferably in the morning.

For more information about volunteering or fundraising, you can contact BASSMA organization:
BASSMA: 03 068519,

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