Happy 1st Birthday VFL!
September 29, 2016, marked the first anniversary of VFL being awarded its علم وخبر and therefore becoming an official organization recognized by the Lebanese government. One could say that VFL’s history started in 1998 with the establishment of the Association for Volunteer Services, since much of the collective knowledge and experience that serve as the foundation for VFL come from the 14 years that AVS supported volunteering in Lebanon. AVS really constitutes VFL’s track record and its historical depth, even if that is not officially acknowledged. These include six Volunteer Directories, six Volunteer Opportunity Fairs, two books (both in Arabic and English), 11 years of coordinating Global Youth Service Days, a regional conference with attendees from 14 Arab countries, consulting services in many different Arab countries, countless presentations and workshops throughout Lebanon, interacting with a huge network of schools, universities, NGOs and government agencies.
Volunteer For Lebanon itself started with an email Patricia Nabti sent to Margaret Jabara on November 13, 2014 in response to a Facebook page Margaret had established called Voluntivity and which has become the Facebook page for Volunteer For Lebanon. Since neither Margaret nor Patricia checked Facebook for messages very often, it took until January 2015 to actually meet. Zeina Saab joined them in April to reach the required minimum of three to establish an NGO, and on April 29th the three founders of VFL submitted the required documents to the Ministry of Interior only hours before Patricia publicly announced the establishment of Volunteer For Lebanon at a presentation she gave on volunteerism an event at the Grand Serail to promote volunteering hosted by Mrs. Lama Tamam, the wife of Prime Minister Tamam Salam.
Some time after receiving our علم وخبر we formed a group called the VFL Development Team to discuss how to move VFL from a group of three founders to the point of having a membership and a legally elected Board that would take administrative responsibility for the organization. In our first year we held a number of public meetings – at AltCity and Arcenciel, we established a website, coordinated the first National Youth Service Week, formed an official Board, and decided on revisions to our Constitution and By-Laws. We also became Lebanon’s National Representative to the International Association for Volunteer Effort. And we are now working on a number of important efforts, including Projects For Lebanon and the second National Youth Service Week to be held in April 2017.