February 2007 - Vol. 5
House of Light and Hope
“rescuing Lebanese youth exploited by drugs, violence, sexual abuse and prostitution”
by Dr. Robert Caracache
In the darkest
hours of civil war the House of Light and Hope was conceived.
It's sad but true in all too many places like Chicago, LA, Belfast, Manila, or Beirut. A growing number of kids roam our streets without protection and shelter. They face a violent world of physical abuse, drug addiction, and sexual exploitation and prostitution. Lebanon is no exception to this growing plight. The House of Light and Hope (Beit-el-Nour in Arabic), since its inception in 1986 during the darkest hours of civil war, has brought hope, shelter, rehabilitation, and vocational training to thousands of Lebanon's youth trapped by drugs, violence, and sexual exploitation.
The House of Light and Hope was founded by Brother Nour, a Greek-Catholic monk assisted by Dr Robert Caracache and his wife Mary. Its president was Monsignor Habib Constantine Bacha, the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Beirut and Byblos until his sudden death in 1999. He was replaced by Monsignor Georges Bacouni, the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of the city of Tyre in South Lebanon who is now the new president of the “House of Light and Hope Association".
[photo of the Boys Rehabilitation Center near Beirut]
Dr. Caracache outlines some of the key goals and programs that the House of Light and Hope offers.
mission and work of the House of Light and Hope
The House of Light and Hope is a non-profit humanitarian association, looking after the needs of young people involved in delinquency and drug addiction; some are homeless, sometimes illiterate, sexually exploited and often victims of poverty and violence. It annually serves hundreds of boys and girls throughout Lebanon without discrimination of race, color, or religion.
The House of Light and Hope offers these teenagers an environment of total care and the opportunity to be re-instated in society. This is achieved through moral education, abolition of illiteracy, and vocational training. They are taught skills such as carpentry, hairdressing, sewing, cooking, etc. They are also offered psychological and spiritual help, by putting back in their hearts God's hope and "light" that brings about change and healing.
House of Light and Hope has many outreaches, among them:
• A Prevention Centre for girls, situated in a poor and heavily populated area, providing programs such as abolition of illiteracy, teaching of foreign languages, recreational programs and outdoor activities.
• A Rehabilitation Center for delinquent boys: Their objective with the boys is to teach them to read and write, to give them professional training and secure their integration in the various sectors of Lebanese society.
• A Curative and Rehabilitation Centre for girls involved in prostitution.
• A Rehabilitation Program for women in prison; they are offered sessions of intensive vocational training to help them find jobs once they're out of prison.
• A Home for orphaned and homeless children (St Ephrem's Home); it belongs to the Syriac-Orthodox community and is one of the poorest in Lebanon. The children are provided with medical care, food, clothing and schooling.
[photo on left with Bishop Chabba Matta in the center surrounded by some of the boys]
• Evangelistic and educational youth camps.
• Assistance for food, clothing & school supplies for some 60 cases not residing in the Centers.
Preventive Center for Girls in Nabaa
Boys in Workshop at Rehabilitation Center
Dr. Robert Caracache, Director, with Archbishop George Bakouni, President of the House of Light and Hope
The House of Light and Hope resources come mainly from donations, through a network of friends and benefactors in and outside Lebanon. However, the local contributions represent only 6% of the annual budget because of the inflation and the collapse of the economy following the war. Therefore, they rely on the aid coming from benefactors abroad to be able to carry on with their work.
During the recent war of summer 2006, the House of Light and Hope extended their mission to help cater for the needs of the refugees who had fled from the south of the country. Most of their rehabilitation centers became shelters for those refugees; they had to provide them with food, drink, clothes and medical supplies.
If you would like to donate to the House of Light and Hope, please
here for further info.