Beit Al-Yateem

Organisations

Druze Orphanage - Aabey
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Since

Located in the village of Aabey, Beit al-Yateem – the Druze Orphanage – began as one man’s vision to provide less fortunate children with security and education.

More than 75 years later, his vision and legacy continues and strengthens – the work of Beit Al-Yateem is known and revered worldwide.

In the late 1930s, Aref al-Nakadi – the distinguished humanitarian, philanthropist, writer and historian – was overwhelmed by the large number of orphans and abandoned children in Lebanon. His dream was to build an ideal home and establish an environment where children could find security, care and a high standard of education.

In 1939, Aref Al Nakadi launched an appeal to the Druze in both Lebanon and Syria, and to those who immigrated to the four corners of the globe, inviting them to contribute financially to establish an orphanage. Donations came, in small and large amounts, until enough money had accumulated to rent and furnish a small house in Beirut to accommodate a small number of children and a matron. The first orphans were welcomed in the academic year of 1940-1941.

Expansion to

With the increase in the number of orphans and donations, development became a necessity – in 1955, Beit Al-Yateem moved to Aabey, where many buildings were rented and a piece of land was bought for the development of a new building.

On this plot, which is adjacent to the most holy Druze shrine of Abdullah Tannouki, construction began in 1963.

Aref Al Nakadi signed a contract with the Social Welfare Services, which offered one third of the funds, and he took responsibility for providing the remaining two thirds by putting his own private properties as collateral for the bank loan.

The inauguration of the orphanage in Aabey took place in 1968.

The three story U-shaped building was designed to accommodate 400 students and staff, but no sooner was it finished than it was filled.

Shortly thereafter, close-by houses were purchased and remodelled and new buildings were constructed to accommodate the increasing number of students that reached at one time more than 1000 children.

A succession of developments marked this era and the late Aref al-Nakadi once said: “We begin our year by thanking God and the donors, especially the emigrants who have recognised the importance of financial support to help establish these buildings, and as a result, keeping a memory in the minds of our fellow citizens without the need to ask for favours.”

Growth &

After constructing the Main Building, many accomplishments followed in this era:

• Equipping the main building with all necessary tools for sheltering, clothing and teaching the students.

• Buying a nearby building and developing the first part of it so that it can be ready for housing and educating the children.

• Constructing an office building.

• Prefacing the establishment of a technical school by buying a plot of land to be built on.

The late Aref al-Nakadi continued to establish, renew and develop Beit al-Yateem until his death on March 23, 1975. All that was achieved was with thanks to the benefactors who co-operated with him then, and are still contributing today, especially the expatriates who, despite having emigrated from Lebanon, continued to support their homeland.

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Shakib

The era of Shakib Al-Nakadi (1975 – 1991)

This was the era of consolidation and continuation in which the late Shakib Al-Nakadi wanted to relieve the worries that the Druze community had as a result of the death of Aref al-Nakadi.

Despite the drastic events that Lebanon witnessed and that influenced the Druze orphanage, Shakib al-Nakadi led a period in which he exhibited a magnificent consolidation during the two-year war 1975-1976, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (1982), the displacement and the destruction that followed in the events of Al Shahhar (1983), and not to forget  the events of 1989.

The two-year-old war period (1975-1976)

Although most of the educational institutions and charity establishments in Beirut and Mount Lebanon suspended their activities, Beit al-Yateem continued to welcome orphans and children from broken families, and continued to apply its humanitarian role at its best. In addition, Shakib al-Nakadi recommended opening the doors for a larger number of people affected by the war and welcomed them to stay in Aabey. Housing was insured for them and assistance was offered to those who did not have good financial standing.

The period of the Israeli invasion and Al-Shahhar events (1982-1983)

This period was one of the most difficult phases that the institution had been through it because it was displaced and its equipment was destroyed or looted. This motivated Shakib al-Nakadi in 1983 to ask for assistance from the Islamic orphanage to house temporarily some of Beit al-Yateem’s children, and through this arrangement Beit Al-Yateem continued to secure shelter and education for its orphans.

The period of 1989 events

Beit al-Yateem welcomed some displaced families in the mid-70s, providing them with safe shelter, the same happened in 1989, proving that the orphanage is not just a centre of care for needy children, but also a shelter for citizens in need.

The accomplishments of the era of Shakib al-Nakadi include:

• The regaining of confidence in the Druze Orphanage and its consolidation.

• The completion of the nearby building which was bought by the late Aref al-Nakadi, and equipping it.

• The completion of the vocational school.

• Restoration of the Main building after it had been damaged in 1982-1983

• The completion of almost all of the works in Shakib al-Nakadi Typical School (named after his death).

• Focalisation on the intellectual legacy of the late Aref al-Nakadi.

With the death of Shakib al-Nakadi on February 15, 1991, a fruitful period came to an end and the period of the Board of Trustees began.

Achievements related to this era include:

• Completion of the Shakib Al-Nakadi Typical School

• Construction of a theatre hall for the orphanage recreational activities

• Completion of a building including apartments for rent in order to generate more income for the orphanage

• Construction of the building adjacent to the main building embodying student dormitories

• Construction of a public library and equipping it with books

• Establishment of a winter stadium

• Equipping a dental clinic and the renewal of the infirmary

• Renovating and equipping a special suite for the kindergarten

• The development of education by finishing the labs of science, electricity and electronics

Board of

Today, the Board of Trustees includes – Sami Nakadi (President), Kamal Harmouch (Vice-President) and Hayat Nakadi (Executive Director).

The school provides teaching and training in general electricity, electronics, accounting, computer science, marketing, cooling and heating and nursery education. Its main languages are Arabic and English, with French as an additional language taught to the students of Business Administration. The school provides assistance to its graduates to find employment.

The Druze Orphanage and Aref al-Nakadi vocational school rely entirely on donors’ contributions, and some assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs (covering 28% of the running expenses), and some philanthropic organisations.

In the interests of transparency, all contributions (whether in cash or by another other means) are listed monthly, in Beit al-Yateem’s magazine – Al-Mithak.

"Raising children is not only for enlightening their mind but also for cultivating their soul."

Aref Al-Nakadi – Founder, Beit al-Yateem Druze Orphanage

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Aims &

Beit al-Yateem’s objectives include:

• Implanting basic moral principles in the minds of students: the sense of fairness, truthfulness, and proper social behaviour.

• Assisting students to appreciate good social relationships

• Assisting students in logical reasoning and encouraging them to express their opinions

• Providing students with general knowledge and acquainting them within natural environment and with a view of protecting it

• Assisting the students to understand this social environment and encouraging them to help in solving its problems

• Implanting civic values such as respect for others, and the prevailing of social standards

• Respect and appreciation of menial work

• Emphasis on the value of planning and encouragement to participate in plan execution

• Emphasis on the value of cooperation and on priority of the general good versus personal interest

• Respect of individual variants irrespective of gender, color or creed

• Training in the practice of democratic principles within the group and in social life

• Development of the traits of leadership, and drilling in following the leader

• Encouragement of the individual to hold his or her rights courageously

• Emphasising the value of leisure time and it’s appropriate use.

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