Imam Musa al-Sadr launched vocational school in Lebanon to fight poverty

October 18, 2017

On anniversary of Imam Musa al-Sadr’s abduction of, Tehran Times got the opportunity to republish an interview conducted with the Imam by a Lebanese TV back in 1969.

The location of the interview was a vocational school Imam had kicked off then.

Imam Musa Sadr and his two companions were kidnapped in August 1978 during an official visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the fate of the three men still remains unknown.

Imam Musa al-Sadr, head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council, brought countless honors for the society particularly in the southern region of Lebanon. The imam was all-around good man who spared no effort in promoting knowledge among children. And to do so, he established a large vocational and technical training school in Jabal Amel on the outskirts of Tyrus, in southern Lebanon.

Following is the text of interview.

Q: Would you please tell us about the purpose of establishing a school?

A: In fact, opening a school was an initiative taken in serving our underprivileged and disadvantaged in Tyrus. Our very first step was to combat the beggary phenomenon. In other words, we deterred people to hand out money to beggars and as a result the begging phenomenon was fast gone.

We endeavored to give these families monthly allowance for the amount they made through begging and provided them with life basics and enrolled their children in school while they stayed home with kids.

"According to statistics, we believe that if the school uses all its potential, i.e. admitting 4 percent trainees annually, in twelve years we can totally eliminate poverty in Tyrus and Bint Jbeil."Pretty soon the beggary was wiped out of Tyrus, but we know fighting off begging wasn’t enough; we had to identify factors contributing to poverty and begging, and the factors we found were: having a large family, lack of skills and talent, physical disability and indolence.

We ought to communicate and train those who lack motivation to work, build children’s home for orphans, and provide opportunity for physically disabled people to work in institutes established for them.

And those with no special skills ought to register at a vocational and technical school for training. So, this is how we laid the foundation for the school and hope to serve the have-nots.

Q: What training courses are offered in this school and what are the terms and conditions for registrations?

A: Jabal Amel School is made up of several centers, one for the poor or orphan students, vocational and technical center for trainees with elementary school or junior high certificates.

One center of the vocational school offers programs in electricity, carpentry decoration, agriculture mechanics, handicrafts, Persian carpet and carpet weaving in general. Another center has several disciplines in food industry such as dried foods, improving food quality and juicing and other related courses.

The third is Islamic science education center and the fourth, most successful of them all, is about homemaking skills like cooking, sewing, and embroidery for girls and the last center is a nursing school.

Q: Does the school accept any donations or receive any funds?

A: Welfare organization injected 290 thousands lire (today amounts to almost $200,000) for the launch of school and the rest was donated by the Lebanese living inside and outside of the country.

Thus, the first year people themselves paid the cost of running the school which amounted to 1.2 million lire ($800,000 in today’s rate).  This year, the French government has pledged to provide the school with machineries and technical equipment estimated at 1.2 million francs.  

The school expenses are fully covered for this year and I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude to the French government for their support and generous donation.

Q: What’s the significance of the school for general public in the south?

A: Well, naturally educating children and offering technical skills to workers, trainees, and girls can flourish people’s lives in the south. In other words, it restores the credibility of citizens of the south and provides dynamic economy for the city.  

According to statistics, we believe that if the school uses all its potential, i.e. admitting 4 percent trainees annually, in twelve years we can totally eliminate poverty in Tyrus and Bint Jbeil.

All in all, I will do my utmost to help boost the school and serve parts of the south that are in my jurisdiction.


 

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