Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is honored to have Dr. Thalia Arawi as a valued member of our organization. Dr. Arawi, the Founding Director and advisor for Khelkhal, has been instrumental in shaping the vision and success of this student-led initiative. Khelkhal, meaning “anklet” in Arabic, symbolizes beauty, audacity, and the lingering chime of a movement. This inspiring volunteering initiative, based at the American University of Beirut’s Faculty of Medicine, aims to spread ethics education, foster humanism, and alleviate poverty. We are excited to announce that Khelkhal will also play a significant role in building the PanArab ASAP chapter this year, expanding its reach and impact beyond Lebanon.
Making a Difference in the Community
Since its establishment in 2019 by Bashar Hassan, a Med III student, and Dr. Thalia Arawi, Khelkhal has grown exponentially, currently engaging over 280 volunteers from across the country and the region. While rooted in the SHBPP Faculty of Medicine, Khelkhal is not solely a medical initiative; it embodies the essence of humanism and focuses on addressing the dire socio-economic challenges faced by Lebanon and the wider region. The volunteers at Khelkhal have exhibited remarkable adaptability, responding swiftly to emerging needs in their community. From organizing bake sales to provide essential medications to patients at outpatient clinics, to collaborating with local NGOs to address food insecurity and distributing rations to vulnerable families affected by economic crises, Khelkhal has consistently demonstrated its commitment to humanitarian causes.
Compassion in the Face of Tragedy
The tragic August 4 Beirut blast in 2020 left a devastating impact on the city and its inhabitants. Khelkhal, true to its mission, immediately mobilized its dedicated volunteers to support the affected community. They actively participated in street clean-up initiatives and extended a helping hand by providing clothing and food rations to those displaced by the explosion. Collaborating with local mental health NGOs, Khelkhal also conducted workshops and group therapy sessions for children and parents, offering much-needed support in processing the traumatic events of that fateful year.
Responding to the Pandemic and Beyond
As the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated Lebanon’s economic collapse, Khelkhal stepped up its efforts to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable. Multiple food and clothing donation campaigns were carried out, resulting in two truckloads of non-perishable foodstuffs being delivered to orphanages in Tripoli, one of the country’s densely populated cities. In parallel, Khelkhal diligently gathered funds to sustain the Medical Humanism Fund, established under SHBPP, to cover medical expenses for underprivileged patients. Despite being a completely student-led initiative with no external funding, Khelkhal has consistently relied on the unwavering humanistic spirit of donors and volunteers to continue its vital work.
Extending Support Beyond Borders
Khelkhal’s commitment to humanism knows no boundaries. The initiative has also played a significant role in providing assistance to neighboring countries affected by disasters, such as Palestine and Syria. Through diligent collection and distribution of donations, Khelkhal ensures that aid reaches those in need, fostering solidarity and compassion across borders.
The impact of Dr. Thalia Arawi’s guidance and Khelkhal’s tireless efforts in fostering community, humanism, and tackling poverty cannot be overstated. The initiative’s remarkable success and dedication have inspired us to envision Khelkhal as a chain initiative that expands its reach to several countries, strengthening the bond between communities and leaving an enduring imprint of compassion and support.
In conclusion, we invite you to join us in celebrating the remarkable work being done by Dr. Thalia Arawi, the founding director of Khelkhal, and the entire team of dedicated volunteers. Their unwavering commitment to humanism and their ability to respond to the evolving needs of the community is truly inspiring. As we collectively strive to build a more inclusive and caring world, let us remember that together, we can dare, inspire, and leave an indelible imprint of positive change.