Letter from the Chair

Dear Community Members,

Rabih Aridi, ADF Chairman

I am pleased to share with you our upcoming plans for the Foundation. I strongly encourage you to provide us with your ideas and feedback. We are always eager to listen to the aspirations and needs of our community and try to the best of our ability to accommodate them.

Firstly, I would like to start by welcoming our 2020 class; Rashal Baz (Chicago), Omayma Awar (Wash. D.C.), Omar Wahab (Miami), and Ramen Chmait (Los Angeles). We are honored to have such accomplished individuals play a role in building additional blocks to help us reach new heights, enabling us to expand our network, resources and community support.

As you are well aware, the latest events in Lebanon have drawn the attention of every Lebanese. The ADF realizes the volatility of the situation, especially the impending economic depression. We are currently in the process of executing a massive aid plan to help alleviate some of the burden that has already started to impact people. Community involvement will be crucial to ensure success. We have identified non-profit groups in Lebanon to partner with. This includes The Safety Net Foundation (an NGO-registered in the US and Lebanon), representative from the Mashaiekh, the Majlis Al-Mathhabi (to ensure duty free clearance of goods), The Farah Social Foundation (established aid distribution centers)  and the Ain-Wazein Foundation (licensed facility to receive, store and distribute medicine to other hospitals and clinics).

The plan involves establishing about 10-15 food banks and distribution centers in the Maten, Alley, Shouf, Hasbaya and Rashaya regions.

On the US side, the following 9 committees will be formed:

  • A steering committee overseeing entire mission consisting of leaders of various committees below.
  • Corporate soliciting for canned food donations: Committee to work on contacting major canned food manufactures in the US and Canada for food donations. This committee requires a large network across the country.
  • Pharmaceuticals, soliciting for essential medicine: Committee will be comprised of physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals.
  • Logistics Committee: In charge of local transporting, warehousing and collection of goods, product consolidation, and overseas shipping.
  • Development Committee: Fundraising to manage costs of the above. Most donating companies might require that we pick up donated merchandise from their warehouse, which involves expenses. The same applies for collections, palletization and shipping to Lebanon, etc.
  • Coordination with overseas team and recipients: This committee will act as a liaison between the US and the team in Lebanon.
  • Communications committee: Ensure community is aware of our work and progress and communicate on-going needs thru our website and direct emails to community members.
  • Group coordination committee: Work with other organizations and community groups, including different ADS clusters, youth, and professional groups.
  • Household outreach committee: Coordinate direct donations of goods by families (check below).

Our aim is to ship a substantial number of containers of food and medicine in year 2020.

Given the magnitude of this project, we plan to recruit between 100-150 volunteers to serve on the above committees and turn this endeavor into a success. If you would like to join this noble mission, please email your details: name, phone, and address. Also, if you wish, let us know if you have any special interest or experience. This will help us with committee placements. We can be reached at: volunteer@americandruzefoundation.org.

The ADF plans to raise $500,000. For each $100K raised, the ADF will contribute $25K. Once the goal of $500,000 is met, the ADF would have contributed an additional $125,000 reaching a total of $650,000 .This will be used to fund the ADS support initiative outlined above, and to fund the purchase of  urgently needed medicines and food. According to the Farah foundation, 3500 families have been identified to be in extreme need and are incapable of securing their daily bread. The ADF will ensure that funds are fully used for the purpose intended and in strict accordance with guidelines set.

ADF activities prior to the latest developments

Over the past year, the ADF Board has embarked on the following projects:

  1. Global digital library on the Druze. This project will involve three phases. Phase one (almost complete) involves creating a Druze digital bibliography. Phase two involves digitizing published books and articles. Phase three involves scanning and storing rare or out-of-print publications and manuscripts for online access. The digital library will be under the custodianship of ADF and Georgetown University. Topics will encompass all aspects of non-religious publication on the Druze.
  2. Develop a Census on American Druze. Many share the belief that our current lists of community members do not encompass more that 50% of the Druze in the US. The plan is to uncover others and encourage them to get involved with the community whether through the ADS, youth groups, or professional clusters. The Census will also help determine the different experiences, resources and skill sets available for mutual support and benefit.
  3. Given the interdependence of Druze communities worldwide, the ADF board voted to form an International Advisory Board (IAB) to be co-chaired by Ghassan Saab and Rabih Aridi. The purpose is to create a global independent body that addresses common Druze issues and needs. The Board will be composed of individuals residing in countries with significant Druze population. As this is still work in progress, details on the charter of the IAB will be communicated in due course.
  4. As most of you know, in 2018 The ADF raised $75,000 to support the Swaida crisis with another $50,000 from the ADF for a total of $125,000. After contacting different reputable and trusted community members and organizations in Swaida, we were made aware of the availability of short-term aid for the surviving victims, and a concern for their tremendous long-term needs. As a result, we adopted a long-term plan of sustainable aid with closely monitored micro-grant program for deserving families towards income-generating projects. In the next few months we will be rolling out a pilot phase to establish operational procedures and assess the value of this method to those in need. We will keep you updated.

In closing, I wish you a great year filled with peace and happiness. We look forward to your support.

Warm regards,

Rabih Aridi
American Druze Foundation