Last month, Charles Feghali, Education and Opportunities for Lebanon board member, was interviewed by the Young President's Organization's Peace Action Network and he focused on EOL's mission in Lebanon. "I believe peace is tied to action," he explained.
from the YPO Peace Action Network : 18 June 2018
Charles Feghali, YPO Gold Washington DC-Baltimore and PAN ExCo member, shares how he is making a difference in the world.
1. A little about you...How long have you been a member of PAN, and why is being a member of PAN important to you?
I’ve been a member of PAN since the beginning. I am one of the original team members.
I was born in Lebanon and have witnessed too much conflict. I believe life doesn’t have to be this way. PAN provides the power of the group – individually we can do many things that have a positive impact, but when we come together we can accomplish more than the sum of the individual parts. We are not helpless and can impact change.
2. How are you making a difference in the world and striving for peace in your community? What are your day-to-day peace actions?
Over ten years ago I got together with a group of people to explore ways we could help Lebanon. After meeting with various entities including diplomats, business leaders, social workers, etc. we founded Education and Opportunities for Lebanon (EOL). We believe that education and socialization are the most powerful ways to transform society and promote a peaceful future. Lebanon’s population is approximately 4 million (although it now hosts over 2 million refugees – including, Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis.) The number of students is small enough for us to have a significant impact – especially in areas where there is tension. We believe that if a child is given the freedom of thought and values that emphasize acceptance and openness for all, then progress will be made in the country and eventually the region.
There are basically three types of schools in Lebanon: the private (too expensive for the average family), the government (poorly rated and attended) and the parochial (located throughout the country and attended by children of all religious faiths). We realized we would have the most impact assisting the third group of schools.
We had to figure out how to help the largest number of students in the most efficient manner. To save costs, we decided not to become a 501(c)(3), but would instead direct the funds we raise through tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. EOL selects the schools and projects. We monitor all monies and visit the recipients in Lebanon. We are a completely volunteer-run organization.
To date, Education and Opportunities for Lebanon has helped over 12,600 students in 67 schools in every part of the country. They have benefited from scholarships, computer labs, science labs, safe play areas, warm classrooms and capital projects.
Among the fellow PAN members who support EOL are Bobby Sager and Dick Simon.
To learn more about how we are making a positive change, please visit the EOL website:www.edopleb.org
3. What's an example of a peace-based initiative that you have seen or are doing that could be replicated in other communities?
Do not think in terms of “reinventing the wheel” but rather explore the possibilities of building upon existing structures. Quite often the pillars are in place but need shoring up. Besides being a cheaper yet very effective option, one can benefit from those who have had “on the ground” experience.
"I believe peace is tied to action."
Bonus Question: Who is your favorite thought leader on topics related to peace?
I believe peace is tied to action – there is definitely a thought process and philosophy/belief system to spur the action. Peace building does not have to always come in obvious conflict zones but can come through showing love and concern for the less fortunate. I have always admired Dan Stevens the founder of Mercy Ships. He serves as an example of how one person’s dream can impact the lives of many.