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Volume 9, No. 1SPRING 2006

Lebanon school receives help following attack
By Rachel Zoghbi Azzi, IOCC-Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon (IOCC) — As the new year progresses forward, many Lebanese communities are still reeling from the effects of last year’s political and economic instability. Especially devastating were the more than ten explosions targeting populated commercial and industrial sites in Greater Beirut.

Mr. Maurice Bou Habib, Director of the Public School of Antelias, was in his office on July 12, 2005 preparing for the start of the new school year. Suddenly, less than 50 meters away, an explosion targeting Lebanon’s Minister of Defense shook his school, blowing out most of the windows and doors. The Minister, his escorts and others were injured, a civilian was killed, and the immediate area suffered massive destruction.

Luckily no one in the school was hurt, but the buildings were left badly damaged.

The Public School of Antelias is composed of three four-story buildings that house 36 classrooms. “No glass, no windows or doors; nothing stayed the same… I just thanked God for keeping us alive, a few scratches were not a problem,” replied the director when asked about his reaction after the explosion.

“But after realizing the size of the destruction, I automatically thought that my school will have no future; no one will be able to recover all the damage before the start of the school year … and my students will not have the chance to attend classes anymore. It was the end of the world for me. I was so desperate. But, something triggered me to call IOCC saying to myself maybe they can help,” said Habib.

The IOCC team rushed to the school, assessed the damage, and within three days the rehabilitation work was ready to start. After thirty-five days of continuous hard work, all of the windows and doors were fixed or replaced.

“We are very grateful for the effort done, and if IOCC did not intervene, we wouldn’t have been able to resume our school year as scheduled,” expressed Mr. Habib. Words of thanks were not limited to the director or the management of the school, but students also wanted to say, “thank you” to IOCC in their own way by painting a picture of children saying “Merci IOCC.”

The Public School of Antelias is considered one of the premier schools in Lebanon for excellent student performance, despite its poor building and infrastructure. It has also benefited from IOCC’s School Feeding and Education program for the past two years.

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