LAU hosts first annual NGO fair
Nearly 70 NGOs from across the country participated in the fair at the Byblos campus, exposing students to the culture of community activism.
Dr. Ahmad Saad (left), member of the Volunteer Outreach Clinic, talks about the organization's role in society as LAU President Dr. Joseph Jabbra (right) and Dr. Selim El Sayegh (2nd from right), Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs, visit booths.
Dr. Jabbra (4th from left) and Minister Selim El Sayegh untie the ceremonial ribbon to officially launch the first annual LAU NGO Fair. From left: Elie Samia, Byblos Guidance Office Director; Sheikh Sami Dahdah, President of the Lebanese Red Cross; MP Hagop Pakradounian; Dr. Abdallah Sfeir, LAU Provost; and Dr. Wassim Shahin, Dean of LAU's School of Business in Byblos.
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Nearly 70 NGOs participated in the first annual LAU NGO Fair — setting up stands across the Byblos campus on May 21 — in an effort to expose students to the culture of community activism.
Representatives from the NGOs engaged with students throughout the day, encouraging them to volunteer and support causes ranging from human rights to environmental protection.
“We wanted to encourage humane work to serve the [community] through cooperation with civic society,” says Elie Samia, director of the Byblos Guidance Office, which organized the event.
“This is a historic event,” said LAU President Dr. Joseph Jabbra during the launching ceremony. He praised the university’s “close cooperation” with NGOs, which he described as “the root of change in society.”
Dr. Selim El Sayegh, Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs, also spoke during the opening ceremony, where he described how the partnership between LAU and the NGOs could serve as a model for the country.
“We should go beyond the university for the nation,” El Sayegh said. “This partnership creates the possibility [for the ministry] to implement actions and plans in Lebanon.”
The event brought together some of the most prominent NGOs in the country, such as the Lebanese Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as lesser-known organizations such as animal rights activist group BETA.
Members from the Volunteer Outreach Clinic, an organization founded in 2001 by American University of Beirut medical students and faculty members, were scouting for potential recruits to help staff their medical clinic in the Shatila Refugee Camp. The clinic is open from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. each Saturday and offers free and low-cost services to the camp’s residents.
“Student participation benefits us both. It gives the students experience working in a clinic,” and helps the clinic reach out to more people, said Dr. Ahmad Saad, a 2009 LAU Pharm.D. graduate and VOC member.
Some nature lovers drifted toward the Lebanese Green Party stand. While technically a political party, LAU student and party supporter Youssef Ghoustine staffing the booth explained that the organization does not deal with political issues in the traditional sense, but rather exists as a voice for the environment.