Young Men’S Christian Association - Lebanon

Last modified: 
12/03/2020 - 4:33pm

Early Beginnings
The YMCA in Lebanon has very early roots. A Christian association was formed in Beirut in 1890. Early services targeted students at the American University of Beirut and other colleges, recreational and medical programs, "Home for the homeless", and vocational training.
YMCA programs were carried out at YMCA centers in the cities of Beirut and Tripoli, and at program centers under the direction of a National Refugee Committee, in Tyre and Sidon. The YMCA Camp Fares at Ras El Matn was the only resident camp in Lebanon. Activities included boys clubs, commercial courses, language classes, social and cultural program, physical education and sports, travel program and camping. In 1969 the Lebanon YMCA reported 1,200 members, 75 volunteer leaders, and 4 professional secretaries. The Lebanese YMCA has been co-operating closely with the World Alliance of YMCA’s in special emergency programs; this cooperation was intensified after the war in June 1967.
An Evolving Mission
In the 1950s, the YMCA of Lebanon began to function much like other YMCAs around the world. It became increasingly concerned with the experiences of youth in the country. To this end, the YMCA of Lebanon developed youth programs that are traditionally associated with the YMCA - such as summer camping, leadership training, health clubs, water safety, aquatics, and gymnastics.
However, it was the outbreak of civil war in 1975 that demanded the most rapid and drastic changes in the YMCA of Lebanon's history. With the increasing chaos, danger, and suffering of war, it became both impossible, and indeed undesirable, to continue to organize recreational and educational activities for the youth. The need for emergency relief was growing exponentially.
Thus, the YMCA of Lebanon was faced with an important choice: whether to suspend all of its activities for the duration of the war, which nobody knew how long it will take, or to fundamentally reorient the organization's mission towards working with the war-affected, the displaced, and the needy. The YMCA chose to work where the need was greatest, and where its experience and expertise could be of most use to the country. It was at this juncture, therefore, that the YMCA of Lebanon repositioned itself as a leading national NGO, and began serving all of the regions and the people of Lebanon.
During the war (1975-1990), the YMCA's committed team of staff and volunteers became actively engaged in carrying out a number of high priority and strategically needed programs in both relief and rehabilitation. An emergency relief program oversaw the distribution of food, clothing, and medicine to the destitute and war affected. Furthermore, assistance was offered to social service institutions to help them repair their physical infrastructure damages caused by the war, and to train their volunteers and staff in more efficient management methods to better meet the overwhelming needs of the population.
The YMCA of Lebanon Today
The YMCA now operates large programs in healthcare, entrepreneurship, environment, vocational training, women's empowerment, and more. With an approach to aid that places no preference on religion or political affiliations, the YMCA has become synonymous with impartiality, reliability and strong program management. The organization works with communities to identify local needs and solutions. This methodology assures that program beneficiaries are receiving the assistance that they need and want to improve their overall quality of life. By serving communities with the projects that they value, the YMCA creates a sense of ownership and gains the trust of beneficiaries, partners, and counterparts in the region.

Organisation Type: 
Local Civil Society Organisation
Founding Year: 
Country of Origin: 
Intervention Sector(s): 
Contact person's position: 
Chief Executive Officer
Contact person's email: 
Contact person's phone number: 
Horsh Tabet
Greater Beirut
Phone: +9611490640
Fax: +9611491740
Greater Beirut
Horsh Tabet
Contact person's name: 
Issam Bishara
ANERA, AMERICARES, AMIDEAST, AusAid, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), CISCO, CDR, Department Fund for Int l Development (DFID)



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