Origin of the Lebanon Summer Camps
Travelling to Lebanon in 1997, Franziskus Heereman was confronted with the unbearable living conditions for handicapped people in Lebanon. Visiting the two largest homes for disabled in Beirut, he was shocked to see how they have to survive.
Day by day disabled children, adolescents and adults lived a never ending nightmare like routine: cowering in the corners of empty rooms, lying attached in secure beds, extremely close to each other preventing any privacy, and at times even tied in straight jackets. As the homes have to survive with minimal governmental and private support, the nursing in this Christian institution means providing no more than the most necessary care.
Friendship and attention was something not known to our protégés at the time.
The 20-year-old member of the Order of Malta, recognized the need for change. The following summer Franziskus returned with 27 friends. In the mountains above Beirut they organized a holiday for Lebanese handicapped guests so they could experience individual care and loving attention. Since then, the camps are held each year, giving guests and helpers alike, an unforgettable time and creating innumerable friendships.
“The Lebanon Project” is organized by the German youth of the Order of Malta (Gemeinschaft Junger Malteser), exclusively by adolescents and young adults. More than 350 young people have invested time and money in the last years to improve the inhumane situation of disabled in Lebanon. Many of them come back every year to visit their Lebanese friends.
In addition to the improvement of the living conditions for our disabled friends, the cooperation with the Lebanese has improved. Up to a third of the volunteers are now young Lebanese. They are committed to the project and take part in the camps. Many of them also visit our guests in their homes during the year and organize smaller camps around Christmas and Easter.