Beirut – Lebanon, June 11, 2014: Under the auspices of H.E. the Minister of Telecommunications Boutros Harb represented by his wife Mrs. Marlene Harb, and as part of the “Alfa 4-Life” CSR program,a press conference was held to announce the launching of the “Lebanese Art Academy”-the first academy of its kind in Lebanon for teaching artsto people with special needs. This initiative falls within the continuous cooperation between Alfa, managed by Orascom Telecom, and the Lebanese Autism Society (LAS).
Thepress conference, which was held at the Sacré Coeur school in Gemayzeh,was also attended byAlfa’s Chief Communication Affairs officer,Mrs. Aline Karam, the director of the Lebanese Autism Society, Mrs. ArwaHalawi,interested stakeholders, and media representatives.
After the Lebanese national anthem was played, Mrs. Halawisaid in her speech that “through this academy, the Lebanese Autism Society will help people with special needs, especially gifted ones,followart lessons with specialized professors to develop their talents in order tobecome active members of society”. She pointed out that “this is the only academy in Lebanonthat will provide people with special needs a chance to enhance their artistic talents”.Mrs. Halawi thanked Alfafor sponsoring the Academy, and the Sacré Coeur schoolfor hosting it in its premises.
Mr. Joseph Hawa, representingthe administration of theSacré Coeur school, which offered its premises to the Academy, said: “We highly appreciatethe cooperation for the launch of this initiative,” adding that “each person with special needs has a hidden talent, which is what we saw through our active cooperation with The Lebanese Autism Societyduring the past years”. He pointed out that “the school looks forward to strengthening this cooperation in the future in order to build a generation that will accept the other”.
This was followed bythe testimony of the young autistic artist Ali Tlais from the Lebanese Autism Society, whose talent was discovered through the “Alfa 4-Life” program. Ali’s words reflected his love of art and hope of living a normal life and practicing his favorite hobbies just like any other member of society.
For her part, Mrs. Rita Moukarzel, the head of the Union of Graphic Design and Illustration in Lebanon and Alfa consultant for art therapy, noted that “the importance of this Academy lies in the fact that it represents a treatment for children and people with special needs by teaching them various arts such as drama, dancing, singing,and cooking”,adding that”art therapy is a way of enabling these people to automatically express themselves and communicate with others,thus leading them to have fulfilling lives.”
Mrs. Aline Karam noted in her speech that“this initiative comes to complementother initiatives we launched with the Lebanese Autism Society, with constant support and encouragement from the Ministry of Telecommunications”, adding thatthrough its“Alfa 4-Life” CSRprogram,Alfa has supported for eight years children with special needs through its cooperation with relevant associations,including children and adults who suffer from deafness, blindness, physical disability, and mental and social problems.
She said that “children and adults with special needs are entitled to be fully integrated into the community.These children have special ways of expression, and we consider it our duty and our role as a socially responsible companyto help them unleash their talents in order to benefit from them and benefit the society at the same time”.
Mrs. Marlene Harb, representing H.E. the Minister of Telecommunications Boutros Harb, began her speech by congratulating Alfafor this initiative and said: “I wish Life for Alfa so that you can continue to fulfill your role in society and successfully serveits various constituents, knowing that this role should be played by the state”.
Mrs. Harb hoped that “these initiatives and projects will set an example for everyone to play a similar role”. She pointed out that “disability has no religion and is not a political party”,adding that “these initiatives show that there are people who work together in order to reform society and help people with special needslead a normal life with dignity”.
She also hoped that “we will all emulate your efforts in launching this initiative in order to unite and reach a country with a proper society”.
The press conference featured a short film highlighting the most important stages of the cooperation between Alfa and the Lebanese Autism Society, and it was concluded by a cocktail party.