The OrganizationThe World Rehabilitation Fund (WRF) is an international humanitarian non-profit Private Voluntary (Non-Governmental) Organization headquartered in New York.
Founded in 1955 by Howard A. Rusk, M.D., universally known as the Father of Modern Rehabilitation Medicine, WRF is the pioneer organization devoted to the development and implementation of rehabilitation programs for people with disabilities throughout the world. Ever since its foundation and over the five past decades, the fund has been instrumental in the initiation, implementation and development of programs and activities, in many countries around the world, targeting the needs of persons with disabilities and addressing issues related to prevention of disability, in its various forms, rehabilitation, social integration and social welfare.
WRF believes that all people, regardless of disability, have the right to participate fully in their communities, to attain education and viable employment.
WRF’s mission is to enable individuals around the world with functional limitations and participation restrictions to achieve community and social integration through physical and socio-economic rehabilitation and advocacy; and to prevent disability and reduce disadvantage.
Programs and activities aim at mobilizing, upgrading and organizing native resources and capabilities, influencing priorities, empowering those concerned, affecting sustainable change, and developing the spirit and practice of self-reliance and sustainability.
Initiatives and practices emphasized a modular perspective aiming at rehabilitation and sustainable development within the targeted sectors and fields with no discrimination as to age, gender, ethnic background, religion, political affiliation, or geographic origin.
Programs For LebanonThe programs of WRF started in Lebanon in the early seventies with training activities and material and technical assistance to several rehabilitation institutions.
With time, experience and availability of resources, WRF expanded its programs and activities leading to the creation of a local office in 1987 and registration of the organization by official decree from the Council of Ministers. With support from WRF core staff in New York, WRF–Lebanon works closely with persons with disabilities, care givers, concerned native entities, activists, and consultants to develop culturally appropriate initiatives that address all matters that relate to prevention of disability to rehabilitation and social integration.
Areas and Fields of WorkThroughout its work, WRF has and continues to fulfill its mission by mobilizing resources to initiate and support activities in the following areas and fields of work:
- Provision of direct assistance to address needs of persons with disabilities and their caregivers
- Capacity building of native CSOs
- Community awareness and mobilization
- Community Based Rehabilitation Services
- Creation and development of “Resource Centers”, databases, and information systems
- Emergency Relief Services for the displaced, refugees, and host communities
- Fostering public-private partnerships among all concerned
- Influencing policy change and administrative reforms
- Networking and Advocacy
- Educational and professional training and mentoring
- Promoting democratic practices and good governance
- Rehabilitation and socioeconomic reintegration programs and services
- Sustainable social and economic development
ProgramsWRF has expanded its programs and activities in Lebanon leading so far to a track record of many programs and projects including:
- The Emergency Rehabilitation Program, 1987 – 1997 (USAID funds: US$ 5,000,000).
- Upgrading and Organizing Prosthetics and Orthotics services in Lebanon (The P&O Program), 1991 – 1997 (USAID / Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) funds: US$ 2,000,000).
- Addressing the Needs of Orphans in Lebanon (The Orphans Program), 1993 – 1997 (USAID/LWVF funds: US$ 1,000,000).
- Preventing Landmine Injuries and Managing the Social Burden of Landmines in Lebanon (The Humanitarian Mine Action Program), June 1998 – September 2004 (USAID & LWVF funds: US$ 2,400,000).
- Socio-Economic Reintegration of Landmine Survivors (Four Pilot Projects), October 2000 – 2002 (UNDP funds: US$ 200,000).
- Preventing Injuries from Cluster Bombs, Unexploded Ordnance, and Landmines; and Alleviating the Burden of Disability in South Lebanon (Emergency Project), November 2006 – July 2007 (USAID/OFDA funds: US$ 600,000).
- Expanding Economic Opportunities for Survivors of Landmines and Victims of War in the District of Jizzine – South Lebanon (An Economic Opportunities Project), October 2001 – August 2012 (USAID/LWVF funds: ~US$ 8,750,000).
- The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities among Refugees from Syria and In Lebanese Host Communities (June 2103 – Ongoing - WRF funds).
- Assuming the role of “The Secretariat” of the “Disability and Older Age Working Group (DaOAWG)”. The DaOAWG is formed of a consortium of national governmental, non-governmental (NGOs, CSOs, CBOs, DPOs, etc.) and international organizations concerned and/or engaged with Persons With Disabilities (PWD)s and Older Persons (OP)s among refugees from Syria and in host communities in Lebanon. It focuses its work on advocating for, promoting, and supporting the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons as cross-cutting issues in the humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis in Lebanon. June 2013 – Ongoing (WRF funds).
- Alleviating the Burdens of Displacement on Persons with Disabilities among Refugees from Syria and in Lebanese Host Communities. (An Emergency Relief Project), (November 2013 – May 2014). Funded by the UN Emergency Relief Fund and implemented with support from The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): (UN-ERF funds US$ 500,000).
- Alleviating the Burdens of Displacement on Persons with Disabilities among Refugees from Syria and In Lebanese Host Communities (WRF Emergency Response Project), (March – July 2015). (Funded through private donations to WRF).
- Alleviating the Burdens of Displacement on Persons with Disabilities among Refugees from Syria and in Lebanese Host Communities (An Emergency Relief Project), (June – December 2016). Funded by the UN Lebanon Humanitarian Fund (LHF) and implemented with support from The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): (UN-LHF funds US$ 517,887).
Focus & EmphasisThroughout its work, WRF has focused on addressing needs of persons with disabilities and the social welfare sector with emphasis on:
- Identification, mobilization, strengthening, development and utilization of native human and institutional resources and capabilities.
- Participatory approach in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programs. This has facilitated the identification of needs and the planning of relevant interventions while emphasizing the national ownership of programs.
- Partnership and social dialogue with and among the public and private sectors and non-governmental stakeholders and counterparts.
- Equitable distribution of resources among the geographic areas of Lebanon and their communities.
- Social and economic empowerment of local communities.
- Reduction of gender barriers.
- Reduction / elimination of physical and social barriers for persons with disabilities.
- Preservation and restoration of the environment.
- Integrated multisectoral and multidisciplinary approach to needs assessment, and emergency and development interventions.
- Scientifically sound and socially appropriate transfer of knowledge, skills, practices and technologies.
- Coordination with and among all concerned, including international bodies, in an attempt to optimize the use of international assistance, cut overhead costs and avoid duplication of interventions.
Beneficiaries, Partners and CounterpartsWhile the list of success stories within the framework of WRF programs and activities is rewarding, achievements would not have been possible without the commitment, energy, professionalism and dedication of native community and national beneficiaries, counterparts, and stakeholders. These include:
- Local communities with particular reference to: (i) persons with disabilities; (ii) orphans and children in orphan-like conditions; (iii) children and youngsters with learning difficulties; (iv) children and youngsters at risk of social dysfunction; (v) war victims (mainly landmine survivors) and their families; (vi) refugees from Syria; and (vii) other population groups at risk of impairments and disabilities particularly displaced children.
- Native Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) particularly Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs).
- Economic and financial consulting firms.
- Municipalities and local and national governmental entities.
- Academic institutions and training centers.
- Professional groups.
Some Contributions and/or Achievements in the Social Welfare & Health Sectors In LebanonSince the initiation of its programs, WRF action has focused on the prevention of disability and on the rehabilitation of the target population through an integrated approach that encompasses awareness and education, empowerment and capacity building; nurturing dignity; improving livelihoods, institutional strengthening, exchange of information and economic and social integration of the target disadvantaged population. Achievements of WRF interventions can be reported at different levels.
At the community / target population / beneficiaries’ level:WRF strived to ensure a comprehensive scope for its assistance to persons with impairments and disabilities and other disadvantaged and at-risk population groups that ranges from short-term disaster response perspectives to the long-term sustainable livelihood perspectives.
While WRF made emergency and rehabilitation services more accessible for the target population by providing assistance to concerned institutions (NGOs, CBOs, DPOs, etc.), it focused on social and economic empowerment and integration by providing appropriate knowledge, skills and economic opportunities to help those in need become productive members of the community. This was possible through a comprehensive approach that emphasized the following:
- Providing direct assistance to persons with impairments and disabilities and their caregivers and families with emphasis on out-reach community based rehabilitation services.
Initiation and support to an extensive range of advocacy, community awareness and mobilization activities including meetings, discussions, seminars, workshops and the development and production of awareness materials. These were successful in sensitizing, and directing, policy makers, local communities and public opinion in what relates to the following subjects:
- Injury prevention.
- Impairment and disability.
- Mental health of children.
- Dangers of landmines and their physical, psychological, social and economic burden.
- Human rights.
- Dignity, self-reliance, self-determination.
- Addressing the needs of internally displaced, refugees, and host communities.
- Initiation and support to a wide range of educational, training and mentoring programs and activities including continuing education, illiteracy eradication, vocational training, computer literacy, etc. These were successful in upgrading the knowledge, skills and experience of target groups in fields of work of their interest and in expanding their opportunities to benefit and use their acquired knowledge during their everyday life.
- Initiation and support to economic opportunities including income generating activities and employment. These were successful in expanding the productivity and income generation capacities of the target groups allowing them to assume a productive and empowered role within their families and communities.
- Initiation and support to continuous capacity building and training for the target groups in order to enable them to become self-sufficient and self-reliant where it comes to ensuring benefit and profit from the income generating activities initiated by WRF programs beyond the WRF support.
- Initiation and support to groups of well trained members of the targeted groups involved in the process of transferring of knowledge, capacity building and training of other individuals for the purpose of increasing the population’s awareness regarding their ability to improve their lives.
At the institutions level:WRF focused on strengthening the capacities and resources of local institutions including governmental, non-governmental, academic institutions and training centers in order to carry effective advocacy and community mobilization activities, upgrade service delivery programs, promote the exchange of know-how among them and ensure effective nationwide coordination and networking. This was possible through:
- Initiation and support to an extensive range of capacity building, awareness, and mobilization activities including training, meetings, discussions, seminars, workshops and the development and production of awareness materials. These were successful in building the operational capacity of concerned entities, sensitizing professionals and staff in concerned organizations and institutions to the needs of the social welfare sector and possible alternatives to address these needs particularly in what relates to:
- Impairment and disability
- The mental health of children.
- Mainstreaming of children with disabilities in normal schools.
- Juvenile delinquency and street / working children.
- Orphans and children living in orphan like conditions.
- The dangers of landmines and their physical, psychological, social and economic burdens.
- Social reintegration of disadvantaged groups.
- Human rights.
- Needs in the social welfare sector and available resources.
- Addressing emergency relief needs of internally displaced, refugees, and host communities.
- Initiation and support to a wide range of continuing education and professional training programs and activities targeting the personnel in concerned institutions and organizations, particularly in what relates to:
- Administrative processes.
- Follow-up evaluation, quality assurance and accountability.
- Information systems.
- Community and rehabilitation services.
- Financial system.
- The institutionalization of programs for mainstreaming children with disability in normal schools.
- The development and institutionalization of the role of student counselors in schools.
- The development of extra-curricular programs in orphanages.
- The creation, development and institutionalization of the Technical Unit for Prosthetics and Orthotics in the Ministry of Health.
- The creation, development, and institutionalization of the Landmines Resource Center in the University of Balamand.
At the National Level:More important, the advocacy initiatives and programs of WRF, and the technical and material assistance provided by WRF to all concerned, in the targeted sectors were successful in nurturing understanding and partnerships, and establishing effective information systems and in promoting the exchange of know-how among all concerned thus facilitating coordination and networking at the national level. This surely helped in nurturing common perspectives, objectives, and understanding among all and facilitated effective planning and programing, and effective targeting and prioritization of programs, activities and resources, thus reducing the duplication of efforts and the loss of valuable resources. Major achievements of this national coordination and networking include the issuance of new national laws and regulations related to the targeted sectors and the creation by law of national committees and bodies such as the "National Council for the Affairs of the Disabled" and the "Lebanon Mine Action Center – Lebanese Army".
With support of donor agencies, mainly by the US government assistance program to Lebanon through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Leahy War Victims Fund, WRF has been able to make several contributions leading to and setting the foundations for various achievements in the Social Welfare Sector. These contributions and/or achievements are grouped under the following program titles:
|Program / Project||Years||Funding||US$|
|Jizzine Economic Opportunities Project||2001 – 2012||USAID||~ 8,750,000|
|Emergency Project||2006 – 2007||OFDA||~ 600,000|
|Socio - Economic Opportunities (Pilot) Projects||2000 – 2002||UNDP||~ 200,000|
|The General Mine Action Program||1998 – 2004||USAID||~ 1,500,000|
|Orphans Project||1993 – 1997||USAID||~ 1,000,000|
|Prosthetics & Orthotics Project||1991 – 1997||USAID||~ 2,000,000|
|Emergency Rehabilitation Program||1987 – 1997||USAID||~ 5,000,000|