Salam LADC was founded by Joseph Matta in South Lebanon as a response to the 2006 Lebanon War, and registered with the Ministry of the Interior as a non-profit association in 2009. Salam LADC’s primary aim is to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the different communities living in Lebanon. Salam LADC focuses on sustainable projects that provide tools and expertise to local communities; youth, emergency response and environmental teams have been created and trained in municipalities across the country.
Beginning of Salam as an international volunteer platform:
In January 2016, Martin Kvernbekk and Igor Kubat came to Lebanon, after having volunteered in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans for several months in response to the large scale movement of refugees into Europe. They came to Lebanon because they had realized how badly ongoing humanitarian assistance was needed in the countries neighboring Syria, and were motivated by the idea of facilitating the arrival of international volunteers to assist the efforts. At the time, the concept of international volunteers working within Lebanon was relatively unknown. Martin and Igor began by initiating an online project to channel funds and awareness towards vulnerable communities in Lebanon. After a few weeks a close friend introduced them to Joseph Matta, Salam LADC’s director. As Salam LADC and the volunteer program had complimentary visions, Joseph, Martin and Igor joined forces, merging the two.
Six years later, more than 500 international volunteers have made the journey to Lebanon. Salam LADC now has five international supporting branches, and more than 20 local members of staff have been hired to ensure the quality and sustainability of the projects. With immense gratitude towards all the people who have taken part in the journey and work of Salam LADC so far, the goal of continuing to be able to support the most vulnerable populations and promote dialogue between communities still stands strong.
Lebanon is a small but diverse country in the Levant region, bordered by Syria to the North and East, Israel/Palestine to the South, and the Mediterranean Sea to the West. While small in area, the country has an incredibly varied demography, with a remarkable diversity of religion, culture, and nature. Unfortunately, the country also has a tumultuous recent history; many regions have struggled to develop and prosper, and there is a highly uneven distribution of wealth. After a long civil war that ended in 1990 and subsequent invasions from Israel, more than one million Lebanese people were already living below the poverty line before the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011.
Today, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Salam LADC is headquartered in the Bekaa Valley, bordering Syria, which hosts the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Multiple crises have further exacerbated the struggles of the Lebanese and refugee populations. Protests erupted in 2019 over government corruption and austerity measures, leading to the resignation of the Prime Minister. The country has been in political paralysis since, with no cabinet formed as of spring 2023. As a result, financial support from the international community has stalled and the economic situation has continued to deteriorate, with the local currency losing more than 90% of its value, leading to hyperinflation, rising poverty rates, and soaring prices. The August 2020 explosion in Beirut port killed over 200 people, causing widespread destruction and further revealed the extent of government neglect and incompetence. These compound crises have plunged more and more Lebanese citizens into poverty. Today, Salam LADC’s activities seek to support both the host and refugee populations, providing aid and activities irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation.