Under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency the Minister of Telecommunications, Jamal Jarrah, and as part of the Alfa 4-Life CSR program, a panel discussion entitled Chain of Love brought together Alfa CEO and Chairman Marwan Hayek and representatives of the seven associations supported by Alfa. In addition to highlighting eleven years of cooperation, friendship and success stories, the dialogue also addressed the challenges faced by these associations and the means to strengthen cooperation with Alfa in order to support integration and achieve equality.
Held on the campus of Innovation and Sports at Saint Joseph University, the panel discussion was moderated by journalist Majid Bou Hadir. It was attended by the President of SOS Children's Villages Afifa Arsanios, Sesobel's General Manager and Board President, Fadia Safi, Chairman of the Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf, Toufic Takchi, the Head of the Francophone Association for Mental Illnesses, Dr. Sami Richa, the Director of the Lebanese School for the Blind and Deaf, Mary Rose Gemayel, and the Marketing Manager of the Lebanese Autism Society, Caroline Arabdji.
Hayek Following the Lebanese national anthem, Hayek expressed his pride in this gathering, which is an important moment in Alfa's history. He thanked Minister Jarrah for his attendance and participation despite his busy schedule and the political situation in the country. He also thanked the media that keeps pace with Alfa, our partners and the actors in the telecommunications sector as well as the associations that form the backbone of Alfa’s CSR program. Hayek then said in his speech:
“We are not meeting to celebrate Alfa's numerous technological achievements, but rather the associations and the people who devoted time and effort to serve the sector of people with special needs that is in dire need of support. Today, I announce the launch of a new initiative in my name and in the name of Alfa: we will go beyond the traditional designation of ‘people with special needs’ and call them from this day forward ‘the People with Iron Will’. Indeed, their pride and extraordinary love for life and their will to live in dignity are lessons for all of us”.
“Eleven years after the launch of our Alfa 4-Life program, we are still going strong, because this program is part of our economic strategy and part of our company’s DNA. Our commitment is no longer only a commitment within Alfa, but is now within the larger scope of our pledge to achieving sustainable development, particularly the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SDG10, which aims to achieve integration and reduce inequality within society”.
“Our social investment is neither a commercial nor a material one; it is rather a moral and religious duty. Some may think that CSR is nothing but a set of pictures and a public relations campaign, but it is actually much more than that. It is a way of life and part of a comprehensive corporate economic strategy. I urge all of our private sector partners, particularly those in the telecommunications sector, to set an example in this field and to develop their potential to support this segment”.
"Over the years, we have been able to make a large number of community achievements, including but not limited to, discovering and developing the talent of autistic artist Ali Tlais, who held this year his eighth exhibition. This is in addition to the talents of the Lebanese School for the Blind students who impressed us with their sculptures and who will be holding soon their next exhibit. We have also highlighted the talents and abilities of the students at the Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf, many of whom were able to get other jobs thanks to their talent. With Acsauvel, we helped the environment with the ecofriendly bags and with Sesobel, we spread awareness on the importance of integrating people with special needs and equipping public spaces for them. We also cooperated with the Lebanese Association of SOS Children's Villages to empower women through the development of their handicrafts and we have also established a choir for the SOS children which represents a music therapy. Last but not least, we worked with the Francophone Association for Mental Illnesses to rehabilitate the psychiatry ward at the Hotel Dieu Hospital and to produce short films aimed at highlighting the need to give mental illnesses the attention it deserves”.
“I thank Alfa subscribers for supporting our program by participating in our SMS campaigns via the 1004 number, which so far have raised more than 700 thousand dollars in support of the NGOs. I assure you that we will pursue our CSR strategy until the end of time”. He concluded: “Although we have gone through a great deal of adversity in Lebanon, our strong will has and will certainly continue to help us overcome any difficulties”.
Jarrah H.E. Jarrah praised the Alfa 4-Life CSR program and stressed that what Alfa is doing in terms of social responsibility “helps us reinforce our commitment to society, especially the people with iron will, as Mr. Hayek called them, because if we do not cooperate to improve society, any technical, technological, commercial, and financial success we achieve will always be lacking.”
He pointed out that social responsibility “is supposed to be part of our conviction and our daily work, through which we build targeted strategies to be really responsible for our society. Through our cooperation in our humanitarian and social mission, we can save our society and build the new generation we need to build our country. We need all the efforts, especially those of the iron-willed, who teach us to have the determination to face any challenges and problems in order to save Lebanon from its successive crises”.
Several films were screened during the panel discussion, highlighting the achievements of eleven years of cooperation between Alfa and the associations, as well as Alfa's journey in the field of sustainable development.
Association representatives spoke of the importance of investment in human capabilities and capacities, as reflected in the partnership with Alfa, where the talents of children were discovered and developed to help them become productive.
There was also talk about the need to activate the cooperation among the associations and between them and the private and public sectors in order to develop mechanisms to support the effective integration of the iron-willed in society, strengthen their role, and change the traditional concepts.