Rachiine citizens note that their town feels livelier and that local businesses are performing a bit better after USAID installed LED lights all along the town’s streets.

Be it in crude physics or in metaphysics, light is an element that holds a significant and profound value. This seemingly monarchic status given to light irrespective of whether it is mentioned in an empirical or in a theoretical discussion is easily justifiable. Throughout history, night has been a very intimidating and menacing period of the day during which many innocent wanderers could easily fall victim to lurking predators or to unperceivable hazards due to how limited human vision is in pitch-black darkness. Naturally, in a slightly poetic form of expression, being our one and only weapon against what lurks in the dark abyss of night, light, through an evolutionary social pathway, as many evolutionary biologists now agree, provides us with a feeling of safety, courage, and power. In Rachiine, RMF under the BALADI program funded by USAID installed 355 LED (Light-emitting diode) streetlights benefitting 4820 residents, counting 43 members owning 39 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES). Bearing the aforementioned characteristics of light, it was natural that these 39 MSMES reported increased business activity, as local folk felt safer going for late-night purchases and groceries. Mayor Jerjess Zaouk estimated this increase to be at around 20% at peak activity, with slight fluctuations depending on multiple factors that are beyond the control of the locals, such as weather conditions and general economic stability. Municipality member George Tannous said: “the lights are not only powerful and bright, they are also very energy-sparing. While most of the residents only care for the added value of having an easier time wondering about at night, the municipality itself benefits a lot, as these lights save us quite a lot of money in comparison to those we previously had installed, going from a monthly $5000 to just $2600.”

Citizens like local resident Tony Mosallem praised the implementation by RMF funded by USAID for its precision and immaculate quality, hoping to see more developmental projects implemented by the agency to assist the town in the future.

USAID Inaugurates Rural Tourism Project in Douma

The Building Alliance for Local Advancement, Development, and Investment (BALADI) program celebrated the inauguration of a community development project to promote rural tourism in Douma (Batroun district).  BALADI is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented by the René Moawad Foundation (RMF). USAID provided $199,592 to establish a hostel for tourists at the existing sports club premises in Douma and to rehabilitate its football and basketball facilities. The municipality of Douma and Douma Club contributed around $33,000 in rehabilitation work and equipment.

The event was attended by USAID Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, RMF executive director, Michel Moawad, the Mayor of Douma, Joseph Maalouf, the President of Douma club Mrs. Sabah Maalouf, heads of municipalities of surrounding towns in Batroun district, and members of parliament, community members, and other local stakeholders.

The project, developed by the municipality and community of Douma, will promote eco-tourism in the village and will increase the revenues of 25 women-owned businesses that sell home-made jams, preserves, and handicrafts during festivals and events.  At least four long-term jobs and two seasonal jobs will be created at the center  The project is expected to annually host 600 visitors at the new dormitories, and attract 2,000 youth from the region to the sports fields.

The USAID BALADI project assists municipalities in implementing needed community development activities, especially those most responsive to local host community needs.  This support improves municipalities’ capability to work in an inclusive way with its citizens to accomplish local development activities and improve public service delivery.  Such activities meet community needs in several sectors, including: solar electricity generation; irrigation and access to potable water; equipment for public schools and community health clinics or social and sports centers; and income generation through rural tourism, agro-processing, entrepreneurship, and skills training.  Since 2012, BALADI has supported a total of 87 projects in 22 districts throughout Lebanon, engaged with more than 140 municipalities.

More information on the BALADI program can be found on

Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag visits the René Moawad Foundation

Dutch diplomat and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, visited the René Moawad Foundation (RMF) in Mejdlaya in the Zgharta district accompanied by Dutch Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans on the 11th of July 2018. This visit was also attended by the Executive director of RMF, MP Michel Moawad as well as the owner of Master Chips, MP Michel Daher.

The visit comes within the framework of a project funded by the Dutch Embassy and implemented by RMF concerning Lebanese potato farming and its export for the first time to European markets this past May, as a ban had previously been imposed on Lebanese potato which had prevented its export to EU markets. Approximately seven years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture sought to lift the ban through the establishment of a program that surveyed cultivated land and ensured the eradication of diseases that had previously infected the Lebanese potatoes through an agreement allowing Lebanon to annually export potatoes to the European Union provided that they meet European specifications. However, Lebanon was unable to achieve this step at the time.

Within this framework, and only a few months short of the agreement’s expiration date, RMF worked to achieve the goal of introducing Lebanese potatoes for the first time to EU markets in cooperation with the Dutch Embassy in Lebanon and Dutch companies and experts.  As part of its constant effort to keep every Lebanese on his land and bring social stability to farmers so that they may live in dignity and social justice, and its trust in Lebanon’s produce quality transferring it to all parts of the world, RMF carried out the project “Growing the potato and leafy green value chain for improved livelihoods”, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy in Lebanon, in cooperation with the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) in Abdeh, Akkar.

The project aims to improve the cultivation techniques of potato and leafy green vegetables in the Akkar district and to facilitate the export of Lebanese potatoes to the European markets, especially in light of an agreement that allows this.

The René Moawad Foundation concludes its project: “Enhancing access to education for Syrian refugees and Lebanese girls in Northern Lebanon”

The René Moawad Foundation organized a ceremony for one of its implemented projects that was funded by the Swedish Broadcast Foundation in cooperation with Plan International, under the title “Enhance access to education for Syria refugees and Lebanese adolescent girls (aged 12 – 17) in Minnieh–Dennieh, Tripoli and Zgharta Districts in Lebanon affected by the Syrian conflict through quality non-formal education opportunities”. The closing ceremony took place in the Antonine University Auditorium on Friday, June 29 in Mejdlaya and was attended by Plan International’s regional programme director Colin Lee and programme director Marianne Samaha as well as René Moawad Foundation’s general director Nabil Moawad and representatives from local and international associations.

The ceremony commenced with a documentary highlighting some of the success stories behind this project followed by a speech from René Moawad Foundation’s Dr. Hasna Tanios, stating: “If man was the maker of civilizations, then education and protection are the makers of man. And how about if this human being, regardless of his religion, language, race, and nationality was the core of the work of the René Moawad Foundation? And so we meet today to conclude this project, which has had a remarkable impact on more than 500 female beneficiaries, through their acquisition of life skills, and our presence today is indicative of its success. And it should be noted that this project has been implemented in several areas spanning Minnieh–Dennieh, Tripoli and Zgharta, with thousands of cases requiring support in all forms. Within this context, this project came about to provide a range of activities, such as linguistic and accounting support, educational support, awareness raising sessions on positive parenting and community initiatives, in addition to recreational activities. ”

On the other hand, Mr. Colin Lee talked about the Organization’s experience in Lebanon and about cooperating with the René Moawad Foundation by stating: “we work in Lebanon with local organizations such as René Moawad Foundation in all areas and with all individuals regardless of nationality, race, or religion, and with Lebanese and Syrian girls alike within this programme.” And he added:  “There is no doubt that the Syrian crisis had an impact on Lebanon and on girls especially, therefore we chose to work in cooperation with the René Moawad Foundation in the North Lebanon region because we both share the same objectives and principles, particularly with regard to girls’ education and empowerment. It should be noted in this context that the implementation of this project was made possible thanks to the work of the René Moawad Foundation and its team and to the support and financing of the Swedish Broadcast Foundation.” And he concluded by saying, “I wish the girls present here today the best of luck in the near and distant future.”

The ceremony concluded with the distribution of certificates to the project’s beneficiaries, followed by a small reception.

The René Moawad Foundation and the Dutch Embassy in Lebanon are exporting the Lebanese potato for the first time to EU markets

The René Moawad Foundation celebrated the export for the first time of 20 tons of Lebanese potatoes to the EU markets in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Beirut and in coordination with the agricultural cooperatives in Akkar. The ceremony was held in the conference room of the management and investment building of the Beirut Port, in the presence of the President of the René Moawad Foundation, former MP Nayla Moawad, General director of the Ministry of Agriculture Louis Lahoud (who was representing the Minister of Agriculture Ghazi Zeaiter), the Kingdom of the Netherlands Ambassador to Lebanon Jan Waltmans, General director of the Agricultural Research Department Michel Afram represented by Michel Issa El-Khoury , General director of the Ministry of Economy and Trade Alia Abbas, General director of Customs Badri Daher (represented by Colonel Adel Francis), General director of the René Moawad Foundation Nabil Moawad, FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Ambassador Maurice Saadeh, Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Lebanon Raphael Debbane, Chairman of the Lebanese-Dutch Businessmen Association Mohammad Sinno, Head of Beirut port authority Hassan Koraytem, and Ms. Virginie Cossoul representing the European Union in addition to the presence of security forces, the heads of agricultural cooperatives in Akkar and a gathering of businessmen and farmers.

The ceremony began with the Lebanese and Dutch national anthems followed by a speech by former MP Nayla Moawad, expressing her pride and joy in this achievement, which has led to the export of high-quality Lebanese products that conform to European standards, in close cooperation with the public and private sectors on one hand, and the farmers and cooperatives, and the Dutch embassy on the other hand. Moawad confirmed that “The main objective is the dignity of the farmer whom we want to help keep on his land so he can live in dignity. And in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy, ​​we worked for the first time in Lebanon on potato varieties found in EU countries in cooperation with the Agricultural Research Department and farmers. And this project was successfully completed after we adopted many practical steps and overcame many obstacles, but only with the help of all were we able to achieve the desired goals.” She expressed her pleasure at the success of this project which is beneficial first to farmers and then to the national economy.

Then a speech on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture Ghazi Zeaiter was delivered by the Ministry’s General Director Louis Lahoud, who welcomed the audience and praised the role and work of the René Moawad Foundation. Lahoud spoke about the importance of this project, which aims at developing Lebanese agricultural products and further enrooting farmers in their lands, thereby reflecting positively on the agricultural situation. He highlighted the role of the Ministry of Agriculture in supporting such projects that contribute to the modernization and development of agricultural products. “We went through several stages before the export to the EU was approved, and then we started the most difficult phase of preparing the Lebanese farmer to work on the specifications,” he said. And in this regard, the René Moawad Foundation was a pioneer in implementing the specifications with farmers.”

Then the Ambassador of Holland to Lebanon, Jan Waltmans, said: “The Kingdom of the Netherlands is the fifth largest donor to Lebanon. Indeed, we support Lebanon in addressing the impact of the Syrian crisis through economic development and job creation (the Socio-Economic Fund for Development, the Agrotech Agricultural Technology Program, and FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the rehabilitation of technical schools and the green project), and in human rights, stability, peace and security and finally, to work with young people. And these are only a few examples of what the Netherlands is doing in Lebanon. ”

And he added: “With the René Moawad Foundation, we took it upon ourselves to demonstrate that the European market is open to Lebanese products and that European standards can be met if the farmers in Lebanon receive the proper support and the right approach to achieve these goals.” And the René Moawad Foundation has worked closely with farmers in Akkar, seed suppliers, and Dutch traders. As a result, Lebanon today is exporting the first 20 tons of potatoes to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. I would also like to mention the Syrian refugees who were allowed to work on the lands, thus contributing to this success in turn. And the entire potato output has been sold even before its shipment. This is why I am very pleased with this achievement today and I hope it will serve as a model for all farmers in Lebanon to replicate this experience and open up new markets. ”

He concluded with: “We all know that in the event of failure, it is easy to point the finger at whom is at fault, whereas in achieving any success, the winners and the heroes suddenly identify themselves, but in this case, the Moawad Foundation, the farmers, peasants, experts from the Netherlands and from the Agricultural Research Institute in Lebanon; they are the only ones who played an efficient role and nobody else. I am sure that this development will encourage the Ministry of Agriculture and the Lebanese authorities to promote similar initiatives in the agricultural sector.”

Then the technical director of the project at the René Moawad Foundation, Engineer Imad Riachy, presented a technical explanation about the project’s execution and the difficulties that accompanied it. After that, the participants inspected the volumes exported at the container terminal at the port of Beirut.

RMF Launches a New Project with Municipalities Funded by USAID BALADI CAP

“Improving Internal Governance, Financial Management and Communications of Select Lebanese Municipalities”

 RMF launches its new project “Improving Internal Governance, Financial Management and Communications of Select Lebanese Municipalities”. The project is funded by USAID BALADI CAP.

 To ensure sustainability and best practices, BALADI CAP has engaged five service providers who will ensure that local CSOs and municipalities work hand in hand for the welfare of their communities on issues that will have a positive impact on the citizens. The providers were Rene Moawad Foundation (RMF), Association for Forests, Development, and Conservation (AFDC), ArabiaGIS (AGIS), For Development, C.C., Quick Solutions Company (QSC).

A launching event took place in a launching event on Dec 8, 2017, at the Padova Hotel, Sin el Fil to introduce the service provider teams with municipalities. These service providers are currently working under municipal capacity building component and have met with representatives from BALADI CAP’s 38 partner municipalities, 25 of whom attended with two unions of municipalities.
RMF had the opportunity to present its team that includes two administrative judges from the Lebanese Court of Audit (responsible for oversight of municipalities): Judge Rosy Sader, and Judge Wassim Abou Saad, retired senior expert in municipal financial management and organizational development: Mr. Hussein Hallal, senior communication Expert: Mr. Fares Harfouche, senior development planning expert and senior gender expert: Mrs. Sawsan Mehdi. as well as the work and Capacity building on 1)Organization development and financial management, 2) Strategic planning for local development and 3) Advocacy and Outreach/Communication to 38 Selected Municipalities throughout Lebanon as part of this project component, and in coherence with each municipality’s action plan. A brief Q&A session followed each presentation.

As a firm supporter of democracy, the Rene Moawad Foundation believes in the importance of empowering all citizens to enact meaningful change in their own communities. In accordance with this, RMF has chosen to focus on empowering Local Authorities across Lebanon to implement projects to benefit their communities. RMF will leverage its significant experience in the past years specifically in decentralization activities in order to implement “Improving Internal Governance, Financial Management and Communications of Select Lebanese Municipalities” program.

Ms. Nadine Roumieh, RMF BALADI CAP project Manager thanked USAID and MSI for their trust in RMF to implement the project that holds promising results to municipalities in Lebanon.

RMF-USA holds its two Annual Gala Dinners

The Rene Moawad Foundation – USA (RMF-USA) held both their Annual Gala Dinners in the US in the fall. The benefits of these galas go for supporting RMF’s numerous projects and activities in Lebanon.

The first gala took place in Miami. It was organized and chaired once again by Rima Otrakji, board member at RMF-USA and President of the Foundation’s Chapter in Florida. The event took place on the very exclusive Fisher Island which is accessible only to members and cannot be reached except by a special ferry boat service.

Attending the event, the Mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine, (who is a potential future governor!) was delighted by the presence of – not only American citizens from Lebanese origins who are very deeply attached to their mother country – but also by the cream of Miami’s high society!

The whole audience applauded RMF decision of honoring Nadim Camille Ashi, who is a renowned and successful Miami businessman of Lebanese origin. Ashi, who received the ‘RMF Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award’, acts as CEO for a number of companies. He is also very active in real estate, business development, and the management of companies. The Four Seasons Hotel is the last gem in his collection.

Jacques Nasser, former CEO of Ford Motor Company and presently board member of 21st Century Fox and member at the International Advisory Board of Allianz, introduced the Honoree and offered him the prize.

As for the second Gala Dinner, it was held in Washington DC at the Mandarin Hotel. This Gala was the 24th Gala organized by RMF in the US capital. The large and enthusiastic crowd present at the event welcomed the honoring of two highly deserving ladies. Two women of whom Lebanon is very proud.

The first honoree was the late Mamdouha El-Sayed, wife of Elmer Bobst, a highly successful NY businessman. Mamdouha was the heart and soul of the very popular and respected Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation. This Foundation created the Bobst Library at the New York University. They also have been immensely generous with Princeton University, the American Cancer Society and the American University of Beirut.

The Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation supports also a number of Lebanese active NGOs from Tripoli, including RMF’s center in Bab El Tebbaneh that cares for around 200 working children yearly. Randa Haffar, Mamdouha’s niece who presently oversees the foundation’s activities, received a posthumous ‘RMF Outstanding Community Service Award’ dedicated to her late aunt, from the hands of Carol Mandel, Dean at the New York University.

The second honoree was Juliette Kayyem a very well-known figure in the American political circles as a frequent on-air National Security Analyst for CNN, with a responsibility at the ‘National Security Council’ as well as a lecturer at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, amongst a long list of other distinguished activities. Juliette received the ‘RMF Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the hands of Christian Marrone which allowed most of the presents to learn that He is also of Lebanese origins.

Nick Rahall, the president of RMF-USA, gave an address at the event in which he urged those present to provide help to Lebanon, especially during the delicate times that the country is passing through today…

The evening allowed many guests to discover the wonderful and world renowned Lebanese Soprano Tania Kassis. The Lebanese-American singer and pianist Leila Milki, entertained the whole evening.

At both events, RMF’s president H.E. Nayla Moawad, gave a keynote speech in which she first thanked the American people for the support they provide to USAID (United States Agency for International Development). She explained that the USAID is doing a lot in Lebanon and that RMF is their implementing partner in the ‘BALADI Program’. BALADI works all through Lebanon, enhancing Local Authorities who present their needs in Development.  Mrs. Moawad announced proudly that, in the forth coming prorogation, RMF would be their only partner for the whole Lebanon.

And, to conclude, she stressed again the goals of the Foundation: Human Development – mainly through Education and different training programs – accompanied by a fair Economic Development which is the main prerequisite for a ‘United and Harmonious Lebanon’.

More trainings under the EU CSO project

Under the EU funded Project “Enhancing CSOs in the North and Akkar area for sustainable development”, RMF in collaboration with USJ organized different coaching sessions on Managerial Policies, Project Design, Advocacy and Fundraising events, to various Civil society organizations in Tripoli, Batroun, Zgharta, Dennieh, Kousba and Akkar.

More than 2,500 visitors at Kousba Public Garden and Events Venue.

In 2016 the USAID-funded BALADI project implemented by Rene Moawad Foundation provided $243,000 to help Kousba Municipality construct and equip a park and events venue to create jobs and increase the income of Kousba residents through the various activities that are organized annually in the venue. For the spring season 2017, Kousba municipality along with the CPC and Kousba Al Ghad Association organized 2 events at the USAID supported park during the months of April and May, 2017. The Spring exhibition took place for two days on April 29 and 30, 2017 and was visited by 2,500 persons. 9 MSMEs participated and in two days sold local products worth more than $4,000.Another event was held at the park on May 7, 2017 to celebrate “International Laughter Day” in collaboration with Caritas Lebanon – Koura Branch, where 300 visitors participated.

RMF at the four thematic seminars held in Tunis.

RMF General Director Mr. Nabil Moawad attended the four thematic seminars held in Tunis last month, as a key expert speaker on the Youth challenges and employ-ability, in preparation of the Civil Society Forum Neighborhood South (10-12 July in Brussels).
In continuation of the EU effort to deepen its engagement with civil society, the 2017 edition of the Civil Society Forum – Neighborhood South took place through preparatory seminars for regional CSOs in April, and then, a multi-stakeholders Forum will be organized in Brussels in July. The 2017 Forum has been organized by European Institutions, the South advisory group of Southern CSOs (designated during 2016 Forum) and a team of civil society experts. Under the umbrella theme of “Youth and Resilience”, the 2017 forum provides a platform to raise pressing issues faced in the Euro-Mediterranean area, with the objective to enhance a constructive dialogue.