Since 2005, JMP–L has developed projects and activities designed to empower communities in the Bourj Hammoud and surrounding areas to find sustainable solutions to local socio-economic problems through the mobilization of internal and external human and financial resources.
Community development does not only include the social and economic realms but also communal, civic, psychosocial, educational, familial, nutritional, hygienic and other realms.
With the aim of achieving long-term results, our community development projects are devised to expand people’s potentials and to create networking and partnership within communities.
Our community development projects are based on democratic principles, to give everyone the opportunity of free expression and active participation. They are characterized by their holistic and results-based approach.
Even though JMP–L works largely with Armenian communities, we encourage families and neighbors to work together to solve problems regardless of religion or ethnic background.
Designing the Program
Before designing the Community Development Program, JMP–L took the following preparatory steps:
- Planning sessions were organized in the beginning of 2002 to exchange ideas and experiences among all stakeholders, including local governmental and non-governmental institutions.
- A social survey was conducted among 759 Armenian households in 2002 to understand the situation of the Armenian population, so that the community development projects meet the real needs of this population more efficiently. The results of this survey were summarized in a book called A Survey of Living Conditions and Social Needs of Armenians in Lebanon.
- The results of the survey were presented to all stakeholders in a meeting held at the Haigazian University auditorium on January 14, 2003. Participants brainstormed by working in groups, and came up with recommendations.
Based on these initial steps, the program’s mission, vision, key issues, target groups, and goals were identified as follows:
- Find and attack the root causes of poverty.
- Achieve long-term results.
- Empower persons and/or groups to become self-sufficient.
- Use participatory approaches to achieve these.
Long-term vision: to enable Armenians living in Lebanon to become self-sufficient, full of hope, caring for their community life, and upholding their Armenian and Christian values.
Development target groups identified:
- Armenians in the regions of Bourj Hammoud, Fanar and Rawda
- Youth between 13 and 18 years of age
- Children of low-income households
- The unskilled and least educated
Key issues identified:
- Insufficient income and unemployment
- School dropouts and child labor
- Women’s issues (ignorance, marginalization, lack of skill, etc.)
- Increase in health problems and lack of medical coverage
- Increase in housing costs and lack of affordable housing
The general goals of the program are threefold:
1) Goals related to the target groups:
- Increase the income of target groups and reduce the unemployment rate.
- Decrease the health problems of the target groups.
- Reduce the rate of school dropouts and child labor in the community.
- Decrease housing problems.
- Increase the number of empowered women in the community.
2) Goals related to JMP–L:
- Have a well-trained and experienced development team (staff).
- Have a development office and facilities for the activities of the program.
- Shift JMP–L programs and services more toward development along the development spectrum.
3) Goals related to stakeholders:
- Gain government support (municipality, Ministry of Social Affairs, etc.) for JMP–L and its Community Development Program.
- Gain community support for and participation in the program.
- Create networks and collaborate with other organizations.
- Approach other national and international donors.
- Lobby for the JMP–L vision.
Community Development Projects and Activities
JMP–L’s Community Development Program started in May 2005 with a pilot project in the area of the Municipal Public Houses in Bourj Hammoud, centered in an office on the ground floor of the Vartan Jinishian (Housing Project I) Building.
As part of the pilot project, several activities were successfully carried out in the community. Over time, cooperation with other governmental and non-governmental organizations opened new horizons and created new possibilities for planning community development projects.
These successes led to the strategic decision at the end of 2008 of expanding the geographical boundaries of the community development area to include the entire Bourj Hammoud area and surrounding neighborhoods, and having projects that impact Armenians in Lebanon in general. This in turn increased the need of having a community development center.
Hence, in early 2009, the Community Development Program offices moved to the Jinishian Center’s extension. The geographic proximity of the new center to the main offices helped enhance the communication and cooperation between the Community Development and other programs’ staff, allowing for the design of joint development projects.
After the Community Development Program’s inception in 2005, the following community development projects and activities were implemented:
Until the end of 2012, the Community Development Program occupied a central role in JMP–L’s work. Since then, JMP–L has concentrated more on medical and social programs and services. However, JMP–L has continued to encourage and collaborate with the Community Development Program’s women’s sub-committee. The committee has carried on with its friend-raising and fund-raising activities, and has contributed from its raised funds toward improvements in the community buildings as well as toward small renovations or repairs decided on by the residents of each building.
Involvement in Other Community Organizations
Besides its Community Development Program, JMP–L has also been involved in various other community organizations.
Coordinating Committee of Welfare Agencies (Governmental & Non-Governmental) in Bourj Hammoud and Sin el Fil
Established in 1993, this committee is a forum for governmental and non-governmental social agencies in the Bourj Hammoud and Sin el Fil areas to discuss social needs in these areas and the prospects of collaborating together where a collective action is needed.
Coordinating Committee of Armenian Social Welfare Agencies in Lebanon
JMP–L plays a major role in organizing the annual New Year and Christmas party for elderly people who receive care from the organizations under the auspices of the Coordinating Committee of Armenian Social Welfare Agencies in Lebanon. The committee has been organizing this annual celebration since 1980.
Union of Armenian Social Workers in Lebanon
In the spring of 1972, a number of social workers serving among the Armenian population came together to organize the Union of Armenian Social Workers. The impetus for this union came from a survey, sponsored by JMP, which studied the social problems and special needs within the Armenian community in Beirut. Titled A Survey of Social Problems and Needs Within the Armenian Community in Lebanon, the survey concluded that greater cooperation among the agencies engaged in serving Armenians would increase the effectiveness of their services.
JMP–L assumed a leading role in organizing the union and continues to act as a catalyst in its programs, such as the “Save a Life Fund” for hospitalization assistance and the ZVARTNOTS Center for Mentally Handicapped Children in Lebanon. Some of the JMP–L staff members are members of this union, which is a legally recognized organization.
Armenian Fund for Health Insurance in Lebanon (AFHIL)
AFHIL was established in 1994 with the joint effort of Armenian NGOs including the Armenian Relief Cross, Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, and the Union of Armenian Social Workers (in which JMP–L social workers and administrative staff are members).
As of 1998, AFHIL is registered at the Mutual Fund of the Ministry of Governmental Cooperatives as a Mutual Fund for Health Insurance. It is a non-profit organization whose income is totally contributed to social welfare projects. It is exempt from government taxes by 30 percent.
AFHIL is affiliated with the Bankers Assurance S.A.L.–MedNet, and provides medical insurance: hospitalization and ambulatory coverage.
JMP–L has one representative on AFHIL’s Administrative Board.