“Abilities:” Al-Kafaat

His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, at the 2007 Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Convention in Montreal, Canada, spoke of a ministry in the country of Lebanon- one that he is the most personally committed to supporting: Al-Kafaat. Al-Kafaat is the Arabic word for “abilities.” This ministry is a multi-dimensional support system for persons with disabilities. It is listed on the blogroll to the right. Here is the web address: http://www.al-kafaat.org/

The group was founded by Nadeem H. Shwayri and his wife Lily. Here’s the story from their website:

In 1957, a young MBA-graduate while at this early beginnings in active life and enjoying a good position at a financial company, decides to renounce the stardom of businesses and stock exchanges, to devote his life and fortune to serving the poor and destitute. Born himself into a wealthy family, from a father who since age 14 forced into exile to the New world, thrived to fame and fortune in a story-telling epic of an “American-Dream”, and a mother, linguist and religious, proud and charismatic, whose presence bore unto the family a cast of strength and humility.

The young Nadeem Shwayri aged 21 and the same year his father passed away, declined his lucrative work involvement, and started, by himself, a small-time leather factory in one of the ill-serviced slums of Beirut. For companions, he chose among the “rejects” of the Society a blind, a crippled and a deaf, a triumvirate who by 1972 will develop into a large working family of 170, all with disabilities, delivering quality leather goods to 10 American and European destinations. The action undertaken will receive that same year, the highest of distinctions from the president of the Republic (Order of the Cedar).


Proof was made that any person with disabilities of any sort, if given the appropriate training and an adapted environment, can be productive and foster economic wealth to society. “Potentials, not Handicaps” became the mission statement of Al-Kafaàt (read “Abilities” in Arabic).

Since, Al-Kafaàt developed into a Foundation having earned the quasi-totality of the fortunes cumulated from the inheritances of both the founder and his wife. Most of the centers of the Foundation (6 of 7) have been erected on estates beheld from past family fortunes.

In 50 years, Al-Kafaàt has served over 25,000 persons with disabilities and social disadvantages, and brings, to our day, social, medical and educational rehabilitation, and fosters integration, to some 4.500 daily beneficiaries from all communities and walks of life.

Reprinted from August 2008


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