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The Story of “B.Balady Eggs”: A Remarkable Success

With funding from USAID/Leahy War Victims Fund, the WRF launched in October 2001 a program that aims at expanding economic opportunities for war-affected families and individuals through establishing income generating agricultural and food production programs. By March 31, 2007, 194 grants were provided benefiting more than 1,560 war victims and landmine survivors as direct beneficiaries.
One of the major income generating programs of the COOP has been “The Poultry Raising for Egg Production Program”. This program assists war victims and landmine survivors in raising a small number of egg layers (200-300) in a “natural” way, in their backyard, using the “free-range” technique where the layers are fed with natural feed (free of any chemical or animal additive and based on international norms for such types of rearing) and have free access to an open air area where they can roam and feed on herbs, vegetables, minerals, and other natural products to produce “free-range” eggs. In addition, the farms and layers are also followed up regularly through veterinary control and quality assurance visits and the farmers are provided with all necessary rearing tools and techniques.
The produced eggs have been marketed under the brand name “B.Balady®” (a brand designed and owned by the COOP). Since its launching in the Lebanese market, B.Balady® egg has gained an expanding market share of the (very competitive) premium quality “natural” egg market. Currently, B.Balady® is believed to be the number one brand selling premium (natural) eggs in major supermarkets and special stores in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and South Lebanon. B.Balady® egg is also currently sold at the highest price among similar products.
Within this context, and in spite of all the challenges that faced the sector during the last two years, particularly the bird flu scare of 2005 and the effects of the war of July 2006, B.Balady® egg sales increased from a weekly average of 1,900 6-egg packs (distributed in 102 market outlets) in December 2005 to a weekly average of 3,700 6-egg packs (distributed in 182 outlets) in December 2006. Moreover, and during the last week of March 2007, B.Balady® egg sales maintained a weekly average of 3,620 6-egg packs in spite of the Easter fasting season, while at the same time expanding the market to around 200 market outlets.
A major factor in the success of the Poultry Raising for Egg Production Program is the record ‘farm-to-shelf’ time that B.Balady® eggs take to reach the consumer. In spite of the fact that the currently producing 48 farms are scattered all over the district of Jizzine, with all logistic challenges, the COOP has succeeded in minimizing the farm-to-shelf time to 2-3 days, including collection, cleaning, packaging, labeling, and delivery; thus, ensuring the freshness and high quality of the B.Balady® egg.
This is believed to be a major achievement of the Project and the COOP, which is mainly due to: (i) good planning and systems development, (ii) appropriate capacity building of all concerned, (iii) strict follow-up and quality control and assurance, (v) effective marketing and sales, and (vi) appropriate crisis management.
This program is currently ensuring income to more than 48 war-affected families with more than 350 beneficiaries with an average additional monthly income of $319 per family. It also generates additional income to the COOP and provides several job opportunities.

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Landmine Survivor Expands Economic Opportunities: Story of Naja Dagher

Naja, a 40-year-old father of four, lives with his wife Laurette and four children Nadine, Elena, Gilbert, and Maribelle in Mrah El-Habbas village in the District of Jizzine, South Lebanon. In 1984, Naja survived a landmine blast that affected his life physically, psychologically, and economically. Eighteen years after the accident, Naja became a beneficiary of the “Herb Cultivation Program” within the context of the Project “Expanding Economic Opportunities for Landmine Survivors in the District of Jizzine” implemented by the World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Leahy War Victims Fund. Moreover, Naja became one of the first members of the Development Cooperative in Jizzine, the partner of WRF in this Project.
With continuous technical and material support from WRF, Naja succeeded in initiating and developing his own Herb Cultivation activity on a piece of land secured by him and his brothers near his house in Mrah El-Habbas. An in-kind grant from WRF allowed Naja to plant five thousand herb seedlings after preparing the land and installing an irrigation system. With evident success, Naja has become more involved in agriculture season after season. During the season of summer-autumn 2004, Naja harvested around 400 Kilograms of high-quality dried oregano, exceeding the harvest of any other Herb beneficiary since the initiation of the Project. This secured a seasonal income of more than US$ 2,650 to Naja and his family.
 


Naja working on his field

Today and after 3 years from receiving his grant from WRF, Naja expanded his involvement and investment in agriculture and established three green houses, where he planted organic tomatoes, cucumber, eggplants, and other vegetables. “I would have not been able to achieve what I have without the experience gained through the technical training program and the support I received from WRF and USAID”, says Naja gratefully. He will soon be fulfilling his dream of expanding his agricultural business by establishing four additional green houses through a loan from KAFALAT; thus, making use of the experience he has gained from the Project and investing the money he has earned from herb cultivation.
Naja says that, being a beneficiary in the Jizzine Project and a member in the Development Cooperative in Jizzine has given him a new hope in life. He added that his success in the Project has motivated him to dedicate all his and his family’s efforts and time in agriculture, which will secure a productive life for him and his family’.

 

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The Story of Mohiba

Mohiba was 15 years old when she became a victim of a landmine explosion that took away the fingers of her right arm and maimed her left arm. This incident did not only affect her physically, but also psychologically, socially, and economically. For years Mohiba faced difficulty in working, taking care of herself, and coping with her surrounding.

In 1991 Mohiba got married. “My husband is mute and deaf, and communicating with him was quite complicated”, Mohiba says, “yet I lived with him a simple and happy life”. Today, Mohiba is the mother of a girl and twin baby boys.



Mohiba and her children

During the past few years the economic situation of Mohiba’s family drastically deteriorated. “There were times when I could not afford to buy milk for my baby boys”, Mohiba says, “so I contacted Caritas, a Lebanese NGO, and when they knew I was a landmine survivors they referred me to WRF”.

Upon learning about WRF’s Jizzine Economic Opportunities Project, Mohiba was interested in the Poultry Program; however, she did not have land-space to build a henhouse. Nabil, a good man from Mohiba’s hometown, provided her with a piece of land and hired a worker to assist her in taking care of the hens. With this Poultry Program grant, Mohiba has a secure monthly income for her and her family.

 

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THE YOUNGEST BEEKEEPER AND HIS FATHER
 
Bshara, a landmine survivor, lost his left arm and had his other hand maimed as a result of a landmine explosion in 1987. Since then, Bshara’s family has been facing the complexities of life, especially the financial ones, owing to the difficulty for a person in his condition to find a job that secures a steady source of income.
 

The youngest beekeeper and his father

With the launching of WRF’s Jizzine Economic Opportunity Project, Bshara became one of the beekeeping beneficiaries. However, with time Bshara’s physical conditions hindered him from taking care of the beehives. Samuel, his 9 year old son, started helping him in this mission after attending special training sessions related to beekeeping given by experts in the field.

Every weekend, Samuel wears a special suit, which was specifically ordered and provided to him by WRF, and accompanies his father to check on the beehives. “My son is the left arm that I lost”, Bshara says, “Without this big beekeeper I can not take care of the beehives on my own”. Today, after almost one year of receiving the beehives, and with the efforts of Samuel, Bshara has achieved the highest honey yield among all beneficiaries.

“Day by day I get more fascinated with how bees work and make honey”, Samuel says with a smile on his face. Samuel dreams of the day when he will be old enough to take care of the beehives on his own. Meanwhile with the start of the academic year, Samuel plans to help his father take care of the beehives during his play-time.

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PAUL AND HIS BEES



Paul Elias, born in 1969, is a construction worker from the small village of Ain-Majdalayn in the District of Jizzine-South Lebanon. Prominent in his profession, Paul enjoyed a good income and a peaceful life with his wife, daughter, and baby boy.

Never to Paul’s imagination would his journey to pick snails from a familiar field tragically change his life and that of his family forever. While searching diligently through the bushes, he accidentally stepped on a landmine which obliterated his left leg. Trying tirelessly to exit the field to safety, Paul again stepped on another mine which rid him of his right leg, leaving him lying hopelessly on the ground.

A man passing nearby saw Paul’s unfortunate accident and immediately called the Lebanese Red Cross for help. An ambulance soon arrived to the scene to transport Paul to the nearest hospital. Paul’s status was very unstable and according to doctors, Paul was near-death due to his excessive bleeding.

Luckily Paul survived; however, was now left to deal with the fact that he lost both of his legs and his job. Moreover, he was incurring huge financial blows to cover hospital care. Paul was fortunately able to purchase prosthetic limbs to support him in his new job as a backyard farmer, for he was no longer able to practice his old profession in construction. However, he could not help but worry about his increasing expenses and responsibilities. Despite the help of his brothers, Paul was still encountering financial difficulties.
 

Paul Elias and his bees


Now, with the support of
WRF’s Jizzine Economic Opportunity Project, Paul’s self-confidence and financial situation have improved and his hope for a better future has been reinstilled. Paul now is a trained Beekeeper and a member of the Development Cooperative in Jizzine. He can again support his family from the proceeds of the sales of honey and honey related products.

A “STAR” IS BORN

Sixteen year old Laurice Khalil, also known as Laura, grew up in a small village in the district of Jizzine-South Lebanon with her parents and siblings. Being the oldest child in her family, Laura was used to taking on early responsibilities and working under pressure. Her dream was that one day she will make it “big” as a famous actress or a successful film director.

One day Laura and her family were devastated with tragic news, her father passed away through a close encounter with a landmine. However, Laura found support through WRF disadvantaged Adolescent Girls Project, funded by UNDP. This mentoring program lifted her spirit and associated her with a new role model Mrs. Claudine Asaad, a social worker who volunteered to help her.

Although a bit hesitant at first, Laura and Claudine’s relationship grew strongly and the bond between them would never be broken. Upon the learning of Laura’s passion for film directing and acting, Claudine made her contacts and presented Laura with a marvelous surprise. Thanks to the project and Claudine “a star is born”: Laura was offered a full university scholarship to study film acting in Beirut and to fulfill her dream.

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