Founded in Lebanon in 1979, in a country torn by civil war and foreign invasions, the secular NGO Amel Association runs today for the Prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Covering the areas of Health, Education, Child Protection, Rural development, Gender and promotion of Human rights; Amel has now established more than 23 centers and 6 mobile clinics. The success of Amel was possible thanks to the exceptional service of Dr Kamel Mohanna who dedicated his life to help the displaced, the sick and the abandoned.
Born in 1943 in Khiam, Southern Lebanon, in family of cattle merchants, Dr Mohanna was able, thanks to his commitment to challenge the feudal system and benefit from an advanced education in science in Beirut, then in Medical Studies in France.
There he met the woman who became his wife. He survived the “Nakba”, the Palestinian exodus, at only 5 years old. This event marked his adult commitments. Dr Mohanna was very active culturally for the Lebanese through the student community in France “I decided to work in what I believed in through my profession, but also by writing letters, launching demonstrations and traveling for the radical left to promote secularism,” he explained.
“I didn’t belong to any party and came back in 1973 in Lebanon to open my pediatric practice in the Greek Orthodox hospital, but also as a volunteer doctor in the Palestinian camps and deprived areas of the country.
Then the war broke out in 1975. In 76, I got stuck in Tel al-Zaatar as the only doctor, then was joined for a month by Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières with Bernard Kouchner.” Following these incidents, he founded the NGO Amel Association in 1979, driven by the great shock he felt at the time of the war.
The real start of Amel however occurred in 1982, with the opening of 27 centers, the launch of 30 ambulances and the evacuation of 1,200 injured. “Since then, we have developed internationally, always linked in particular with Doctors Without Borders and Doctors Of The World, but keeping our independence to make internal decisions. Now we have 24 centers, 6 mobile clinics and 800 people working full-time in all areas of Lebanon, whatever the confession of those who need help.
And even Ersal, where locals have protected our center against Daesh! We are also active abroad, and intend to develop this network very soon. Today we are candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize through our support to Syrian refugees that we associated with the Lebanese in need.”
The slogan of the NGO sums up our core values: “Positive thinking and permanent optimism.” “We apply some very important values, such as having principles and doing everything to implement them in a practical manner through strengthening the relationships with our friends and raising awareness.”
In this context, Amel works with a budget that is non-affected by the aid of major international institutions, and provides services that helped building trust with local communities: “developing with them and not for them”, as well as pushing forward education, healthcare while also empowering women to participate in public life.
Partners of AMEL:
It is also the Humanitarian philosophy that Dr Mohanna constantly questions: “Many NGOs talk about democracy and social justice, but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer! We believe it is possible to work with the North as equals, not in a spirit of subordination, in particular through the work of local and foreign volunteers. Our vision of Humanitarian action is to work with vulnerable sections of society, to act for a just cause, for the people, fighting against double standards and exclusion as well as promoting the fair distribution of wealth in the world through the actions of states concerned with social justice.”
To Follow AMEL : twitter @amelngo
Kamsyn, July 2016