On Thursday June 20, 2019, the Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy and Applied Care (IDRAAC) held a graduation ceremony at the St. Georges Hospital University Medical Center in Achrafieh for the trained professional caregivers for Alzheimer’s and Dementia. These trained caregivers followed an intensive training program within the “Empowering Women in Lebanon through Vocational Training and Job Creation to Respond to the Needs of Older People” project, which was implemented by IDRAAC with the support of the Australian Government and in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon.
The ceremony was held under the patronage of the Ambassador of Australia to Lebanon, Mrs. Rebekah Grindlay, in the presence of the Deputy Ambassador Mrs. Vanessa Lai, and was attended by representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor.
In his welcome speech, Dr. Elie Karam, President of IDRAAC, addressed the need for care and assistance “not just for dignity and peace but also for what might be very dear to us: love” when the old ship begins to sink and when “our body is crumbling and our brain is no more our ally”. IDRAAC is trying to “help these potential heroes” and believes that “science and love can be good partners”, he said.
The President of the Alzheimer’s Association Lebanon, and senior member of IDRAAC, Dr. Georges Karam, noted in his presentation that “98 percent of people with Alzheimer’s in Lebanon are still living in their homes, posing great challenges to their caregivers.” He also pointed that “some family members have to stop working to take care of the person with Alzheimer’s in their family, while others are unable to deal with caregiver burden and stress, or cannot afford hiring expensive professional nurses.”
He added that “this program aims to avoid all these situations, by training a group of women to become professional caregivers who can be hired at lower rates to care for Alzheimer’s patients at home.”
Dr. Karam explained that the project “contributes to empowering women economically by providing jobs for them and in preventing family members of Alzheimer’s patients from leaving their jobs and allowing these patients to stay in their homes”.
He pointed out that out of 88 applicants, 21 were selected, aged between 21 and 64 years.
In addition, he also announced that the graduates of the program would train other groups in the future.
Deputy Ambassador Mrs. Vanessa Lai
The Deputy Ambassador of Australia to Lebanon Mrs. Vanessa Lai highlighted the “close people-to-people links between Australia and Lebanon” noting that they “provide a strong foundation for our bilateral relationship with Lebanon”.
“Approximately 400,000 people of Lebanese origin live in Australia, while about 25,000-30,000 Lebanese-Australians are based here in Lebanon” she said.
“Australia is a strong supporter of Lebanon’s sovereignty and security and looks to support Lebanese society through humanitarian and small grants support”, she added.
She stated that her country “committed more than $430million to the region, in response to the Syrian crisis – and this includes our most recent three year $220 million package. Through this program, we support both Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities.”
She also added that through the “small grants program, The Direct Aid Program, we support valuable projects which target the most vulnerable members of Lebanon’s community, such as IDRAAC’s project”.
She said: “I am delighted that the Australian Embassy, through its Direct Aid Program, has been able to support IDRAAC to implement their women empowerment project to assist elderly people in particular Alzheimer patients.”
She added: “we hope that this project will improve the quality of life of the patients and will provide a job opportunity for caregivers.”
“This project will have a positive impact not just on the patients or the caregivers but on the whole society.”