BEIRUT: Customers of restaurants, cafés, night clubs and bakeries in Lebanon can assist disabled children by including a $1 donation to their final restaurant bill, as a part of an initiative launched Thursday.
“In foggy days like these, there is no bigger joy than the smile on a child’s face after we all contribute to their future, even if it’s with only one dollar,” said Paul Ariss, President of the syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafés, Night-Clubs and Pastries in Lebanon.
The Happy Treat campaign -- a collaboration between the ORCNP syndicate and local NGO SESOBEL, a local charity for the welfare of Lebanese children -- was launched at a news conference at Al Falamanki restaurant Thursday.
The initiative announced that leading restaurants like Mounir, Casper and Gambinis, Duo, Em Sharif and thirty other institutions will provide the option of adding the $1 voluntary charge to the customer’s final bill.
“Every year we [ORCNP] choose an organization and this year we have chosen SESOBEL, because we believe that they are doing great work,” the syndicates Secretary General, Tony al-Rami, told The Daily Star.
“I mean they are even training some of the kids in hospitality and management, and because of them, these kids may one day join our syndicate,” he added.
President of SESOBEL, Fadia Safi told The Daily Star that the 38-year-old NGO employs a holistic approach towards aiding children with physical and mental disabilities, including children with autism.
“The money will help provide educational, medical, and psycho-emotional assistance for six hundred and fifty kids,” she said.
Despite the negative impact the deteriorating security situation has had on restaurants and night clubs in the country, al-Rami expressed hopes that things will get better, adding that “it is our job to persist and stand by NGOs.”
“The Lebanese government is going to break its back with the aid allocated to Syrian refugees, so it’s our job to stand next to organizations like SESOBEL, so they can provide assistance to the forthcoming generations,” added Ariss.
SESOBEL provides assistance to disabled youth through vocational rehabilitation services, such as chocolate factory work, sewing, horticulture, laundry, mechanical aid, sale of products made at SESOBEL and graphic design.
The local NGO also offers special education programs tackling learning difficulties by emphasizing oral and written language education, while also providing medical services such as diagnosis, medical consultations and examinations, assessments, evaluation and even surgery.