I just returned from Lebanon

The purpose of my recent trip to Lebanon was two-fold; my aunty Faheema Abou Nassar passed away at the age of 98, and I wanted to pay my condolences to her son and grandchildren. And to visit and meet with our new students and LE.O students’ families. Due to the financial crisis in the country we all felt we had to do more. So we added to our student community studying there, and now we have 8 LE.O members funded for study in the country. We are supporting youth in fields of study that will enable them to work in the country, as you know the opportunities are limited for Palestinians. Our students study nursing, business or IT, the latter has become a field we are very interested in supporting due to the fact that employment opportunities have become global.

I visited the camps, homes to our student families, and met with our new students along with LE.O alumnus Wael, currently our volunteer treasurer and board advisor. After receiving both his undergraduate and masters’ degrees in the US, Wael returned home last summer to work, and moved his family out of the camp they had lived in for 3 generations.


The conditions in the camps are more dire than I had ever seen them. While there are individuals sending money to ensure that our communities receive some basic needs, corruption and exploitation even within our own community is rampant, with a very low percentage of the funding sent to some NGO’s actually trickling down to the intended recipients. This information from people living in the camps was extremely disheartening.

We traveled in a very old car so as to avoid too much attention as we entered camps with big signs stating no foreigners allowed without permits, and surrounded by walls or Lebanese army check points. We were greeted by the fathers of our students who walked us into the camps to their homes, where we were treated with the heartwarming hospitality known amongst our People.

Thanks to private donors we were able to gift much needed over the counter meds, dental needs, blankets, Fresh Dollars ( all which I brought with me ), battery chargers for computers for study, and large rechargeable lanterns.
I also had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places in Lebanon. I have been visiting nuns at the Deir Mar Sassine convent in the village of Baskinta, Lebanon with my childhood best friend Lina, for many years. Mother Claire is always happy to see us and kindly asks about LE.O and our students, we never leave empty handed spiritually and fill our baskets with goodies. The nuns support themselves by producing food products they grow and sell very cheaply, so that the poor too can shop. I found amazing toot jam this visit, which is currently well hidden in my fridge! Wael was eager to explore more of the country he was born in and shortly after our visit followed in our footsteps with a visit to the convent accompanied by his mother and another LE.O student.

Who knows what the future holds for Lebanon and our People living there, doing nothing is not an option, how can it be?

Our younger generation need more than their basic needs met, they also need the tools that can transform their future prospects, that of their families, current and future, and in time contribute to our society. How better to do this than for us to invest in their futures through education.

We are now 108 strong, studying in 11 different countries from High School through PhD programs. While the majority of students study through scholarships offered directly from the institutions themselves, we are now also funding students for study on The West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon and Egypt. The students, our boards and I continue to work at LE.O as volunteers.

As yet another year comes to a close, we should like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have stood by us, invested in us, believed in our mission and encouraged us to continue our work. We hope that you are inspired by our program and consider us in your End of Year Giving.

From all of us in the LE.O Community we wish you and your families a Happy Holiday season and a very Merry Christmas and renewed Hope for a brighter New Year.

Deya' Leonard Dresner