NAYA | Zamanouna: An all-women NGO offering help to those in need

Zamanouna, which has been running as an intersectional NGO for the past 19 years, was initiated by an all-women board and is still functioning as such.
by Rana Tabbara

14 September 2018 | 15:08

Source: by Annahar

  • by Rana Tabbara
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 14 September 2018 | 15:08

This photo shows the all-women members of Zamanouna at a Garage Sale they organized. (HO)

BEIRUT: Shortly after the devastating Civil War in Lebanon, Zamanouna was kicked off in 1997 at an exhibition organized by a group of women headed by the founder Ghina Jaroudi. The aim of the event was to revive arts and entertainment during the post-war period and help women in need exhibit their artisans and handmade materials to provide for their families.

While the exhibition was underway, Beirut was faced with another series of shootings and bombings, yet the horrible circumstances didn’t stop them from carrying on with what they started says Jaroudi. 

“After we held the event, and with time, our seniors suggested that we should continue with what we started by reassembling Zamanouna’s team as an NGO,” she says.

“That was exactly what we did, a lawyer volunteered to help us do the paperwork, and by 1999 Zamanouna became an NGO.”

Coming up with the name, Zamanona was inspired by time: past, present and the future. Zamanouna, which translates to “our time,” was purposely chosen to highlight the fact that time alone can’t accomplish anything, however by making good use of it, things would meaningfully come together, the founder noted.

“During the war, time flew by, and what was spent from it was unproductive and useless,” said Jaroudi. “Therefore, time is a very important factor.”

Zamanouna, which has been running as an NGO for the past 19 years, was initiated by an all-women board and is still functioning as such. Today, the NGO helps in funding school and university tuitions, medical bills, spreads awareness through organized talks and provides families with the means to cover a bevy of utility bills.

“We have applications and forms that people can come fill, after that a very private interview would follow, but we don’t fully rely on applications because we do acknowledge that there are people who don’t like to ask for help, but very much need it, and so what we do is that we send out our ladies in search of these humbled families in the community,” Jaroudi said.

According to Jaroudi, the NGO derives its money from events and relies slightly on donations.

The team consists of 25 women and the youth element, which represents their children. When carrying on events, all 25 women take part in tasks they choose fit for them, and often they have their children help them in fields they master “such as graphic design, photography, PR, and more.”

“Our NGO consists of women who empower other women, men, kids and the youth,” said Jaroudi. “Two of our biggest events are the Mother’s Day event and the Garage Sale event.”

The Mother’s Day event brings women from different backgrounds to celebrate the day in exchange of a specific amount of money that goes to charity. The event includes a breakfast, tombola, and artisan booths ran by women who do not have shops to sell their products.

The Garage Sale, however, is the first of its kind in Lebanon. This event gives women the opportunity to buy good quality materials for very low prices.

“2,000 home appliances are gathered from stocks of renowned shops to be sold at the first assembled garage sale in Lebanon,” said Jaroudi. “We go with 2,000 pieces and come back with none, better yet all the money gathered goes to charity.”

According to the Jaroudi, Zamanouna is neither better nor different from any other NGO.

“Every NGO aims to help and amend the society, no one is different than the other in that sense, but what differentiates such NGOs from one another is the target audience it caters to. What we share as NGOs is that we all credit ourselves with self-satisfaction, which is the most important thing to consider,” Jaroudi told Annahar.

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