LAU’s NGO fair and app boost civil society
Over 100 organizations take part in the annual NGO fair as the university launches the LAU-NGO Network application.
On May 21, LAU opened the doors of its Byblos campus to over 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the fifth annual NGO fair held by the Outreach and Civic Engagement unit (OCE) under the patronage of the Minister of Social Affairs Rachid Derbas.
The day-long fair, organized under the theme “Celebrating Cultural diversity,” gave students the chance to familiarize themselves with and join organizations that ran the gamut from anti-corruption campaigns to the promotion of women’s and refugees’ rights, as well as environment-related challenges and animals’ rights, among many others. More than that, the event was designed to be a first step forward, pushing students to know how they can help make a difference through a wide spectrum of internship and volunteering opportunities.
For Hassan Baalbaki, project management coordinator at OCE, this day was an opportunity for the students to deepen their understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better. “We should accept to support and help each other in all our possible ways namely through volunteerism and community service,” he said. And the message was well received: “I didn’t realize the importance and the need for volunteers in civil society and I never really felt the urge to participate in anything until now,” said political science student Mariam Sobh adding, “I’ve signed up for five different NGOs already!”
Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management Elise Salem declared, “In a country where the political and governmental infrastructures are weak, we are fortunate to have a vibrant civil society striving daily in a multitude of ways with one aim: to build a better Lebanon.”
LAU is bringing the components of this “vibrant civil society” even closer together, as NGOs will now be able to network through the LAU-NGO Network app launched at the fair by OCE and the IT Applications and Solutions Department.
The application offers exposure to organizations by listing the NGOs operating in Lebanon and abroad, and providing the viewer with complete and up to date information about their mission, vision, current projects, social media networks, contact information and events.
While the application is open to the public, one feature, presenting internship and volunteering opportunities, will only be accessible to the LAU community of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
For OCE Program Lead Coordinator Dina Abdul Rahman, the application “will help the Lebanese youth stay connected to the NGO field, be more informed and educated on what civil society has to offer them and what they can do to help.”
With more than 100 NGOs currently listed on the application, OCE expects the number to increase now that the app has been officially launched.
“With this application LAU is delivering the right message and encouraging its students to open up and not only be a part of the better society the NGOs are aiming for, but to help create it,” said M.B.A. student Ali Zaydan.
Anti-corruption organization Saker el Dekkeneh representative Nathalie Awaida agreed wholeheartedly, “Hand in hand, we will definitely make this country a better place.”