“Let’s go to the Fadaii Center!” AVSI’s house in southern Lebanon becomes a reality

The inauguration of Fadaii was attended by local and international institutions, founding members, private donors and partners who have concretely contributed to the completion of the work over the years, and some families of sponsored children representing the community: it is for them that it exists this space designed by architect Mario Botta.

On Wednesday, July 5th, more than 130 people attended the inauguration of the Fadaii Center, "AVSI’s house" in southern Lebanon.

Participants at the inauguration of Fadaii, AVSI's home in southern Lebanon

Located on the slopes of the Marjayoun Plain, Fadaii is a community center without barriers, where children, teenagers, and adults from different villages and countries can come together to share a unique experience of growth and solidarity. It's a place where a person can find concrete answers to their desires, or simply meet a friend. It's a "neutral space" for dialogue, where local institutions can meet and discuss strategies towards an integrated development of the entire region, not just individual villages.

"The Fadaii Center holds a special value for all of AVSI," explains Giampaolo Silvestri, AVSI Secretary General. "It represents, reflects, and nurtures our way of working. It was born from the intuition of those who work here, who understand the authentic needs of the people and, by connecting different actors such as cooperation workers, local institutions, civil society, religious communities, refugee communities, donors, and professionals, seek new and effective ways to meet those needs. Fadaii was built solely with private resources, which meant asking for money from all our donors: individuals, companies, and those who organized fundraising events. In Italy alone, we received 952 donations. Then we involved our founding partners - specifically those who help us access resources - Support International, AVSI Sudtirol, AVSI USA, and Avaid."

The Inauguration

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Founding partners, private donors, and partners who have actively contributed to the completion of the project over the years were all present at the ribbon cutting ceremony, alongside several families whose children have been supported through our Distance Support Program (DSP). The families represented the entire community, for whom the architect Mario Botta designed this space.

During the inauguration, Juan Carlos Semaan, who used to be a beneficiary of our DSP program in his youth and now volunteers for AVSI, was invited to share his experience. “AVSI accompanied me and continues to do so. These days, I’m participating in the Summer Camp with two Italian footballers from the Italian Footballers’ Association, Marco Ciannavei and Simone Berardi. I’m training to become a coach myself. I’m glad that there will be a space for us young people where we can meet and learn. Many of us dream of leaving here, but today we have one more reason to try and stay.”

Taglio del nastro di Fadaii, casa AVSI nel sud del Libano
Taglio del nastro di Fadaii, casa AVSI nel sud del Libano

The distinguished guests in attendance included Nicoletta Bombardiere, the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Charbel Abdallah, Archbishop of Tyre, and Wissam Jamil El Hayek, Prefect of Marjayoun.

"It's very exciting for us to open the Fadaii Center," says Marina Molino Lova, AVSI Lebanon Country Representative, who followed the process from ideation to construction. "Especially after all the difficulties we have faced, including the pandemic, Lebanon's economic crisis, and the explosion at the port of Beirut, It's even more moving to know that the community has a space like this just for them."

The center will soon welcome 1,300 children and their families, both Lebanese and Syrian, who participate in our Distance Support Program. The program’s activities are mainly focused on educational reinforcement and aim to make up for the lost school years due to the pandemic and the subsequent school shutdowns. They also address the psychosocial difficulties that children and women, in particular, face through group discussions with the help of psychologists. Additionally, the center will host sports and recreational activities, as well as training courses for adults in agriculture and food processing, and -for the first time in Marjayoun - courses in accounting, digital literacy, and quality control.

Fadaii in Arabic means my universe, that is the space where each of us imagines himself with pleasure or in which he would like to be, but which often remains only a wish. The attempt to make this dream a reality is the basis of this project.

Marco Perini, AVSI Regional Manager di AVSI