Dear Friends, My name is Charmaine Craig and I am a 48-year-old grandmother of three from Abbotsford, British Columbia and I am passionate about helping our fellow human beings. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a world of where love and tolerance reign. This starts by showing them a good example.
This past year I have been deeply involved with the refugee crisis. Last fall I went to Kos, Greece to help refugees fleeing war who were arriving on the shores of Greece with nothing but their courage and dreams for their children’s future. In the spring, I went back to Greece and then to Lebanon to see another side of the crisis. The Syrian refugees in Lebanon now number approximately 1.5 million, ¼ of Lebanon’s population. While many Syrians could arrive with savings and purchase apartments and start businesses in the cities there are many more who live in abject poverty in the rural valleys. Lebanon refused to let the UNHCR set up formal refugee camps so there are 1400 informal camp settlements located on farmer’s fields in the Beqaa valley. Each family must pay rent or provide labour to the farmer. My purpose on that trip was to work with a local NGO that provided schooling for the children living in the camps. I taught English classes. English is required in the Lebanese school system and is one of the many barriers the children have for registration. But by far the largest barrier to their education was the economic situation. The families, ¼ of them without a father, are placed in such desperate situations that they are forced to send their children to work. The amount of exploitation is astounding. It is estimated that 60 – 70% of Syrian refugee children are working.
Recently I was offered the opportunity that, I think, in time will help alleviate the poverty these families face. I have been in discussions with the grassroots NGO Salam LADC. This is an amazing group who I have followed these past nine months and greatly respect for all the great work they do. They distribute aid such as food staples, clothing, blankets and heating sources, advocate for medical cases in getting the necessary care, supply English lessons and play therapy for children and provide goats to families to help them with income generation. The team at Salam LADC are committed to helping those in need to reclaim their independence.
I have been asked if I could bring my business expertise to help design and implement a livelihood program. I have 26 years’ experience in business management and accounting. I have a Bachelors of Business Administration with a major in Human Resource Management. I will be researching and detailing a plan to provide skills training (ie. sewing and baking), an entrepreneurial training program for basic small business planning and bookkeeping, and interviewing possible candidates for the program. Salam LADC would like to provide participants with equipment and materials to make starting their own business a real possibility. Providing the educational tools and equipment to enable participants to start small businesses is an exciting prospect. I look forward to the challenge!
As Salam LADC is a small but growing grassroots NGO they rely on volunteers and their networks to raise funds for aid distributions. A food bag containing enough staples for a family for one month costs $25 American and 4 gallons of heating fuel costs $11. For the price of a coffee a day a family can be fed and warm. Please help me give comfort to some of these dear people. I would like to raise enough to provide for all the families in at least one settlement camp.
I am very excited for this opportunity to help Salam LADC in their vision of developing a livelihood program for refugees and would greatly appreciate your contribution to support aid distributions while I'm here. It's a very worthy cause.
Thank you again for all of your support.
GoFundMe are an excellent organization, but they do take a small percentage of donations, so if you would prefer, contact me privately for details of my paypal account.