MSIF is currently working across the Arab region to help national MS organisations improve the quality of life of people affected by MS.
In Lebanon, people with MS face a number of challenges in everyday life. These challenges include:
Relationships: a lack of public awareness of MS often leads to relationship problems such as breaking up with a partner
Careers: employers sometimes withdraw job offers as their insurance does not cover employees with MS. In some cases, people with MS have been asked to leave their job
Disclosure: speaking to partners, family, friends and employers about MS can be difficult without the support of specialised health professionals
Treatment costs: although the government covers much of the cost of treatment, not all treatments are covered and many people with MS cannot afford to meet the remaining cost
Accessibility: buildings and transport in Lebanon are often not accessible to people with MS
“My girlfriend said it was better to end our relationship. She was afraid to be infected even though I explained that she would not be. There is no awareness.” – Georges from Tripoli.
In 1995, the Society of Lebanese Friends of People with Multiple Sclerosis (ALSEP) was established in Zahle to provide support for people with MS in Lebanon. It relies on a small voluntary board to run its activities, including physiotherapy, providing information about MS, and organising awareness-raising activities.
ALSEP was one of three organisations selected to be part of MSIF’s three-year capacity-building programme in the Arab region. Through mentoring, training, visits and partnership working, the programme aims to develop MS organisations’ capacity and build the skills of their volunteers, enabling them to respond better to the needs of people with MS.
Through the capacity building programme in Lebanon, MSIF supported ALSEP to develop their first fundraising strategy and a grant proposal. We provided MS counselling training to two volunteers, and helped develop software so their board members and volunteers can easily access and share documents and data.
In 2015 we are supporting ALSEP to update their strategic plan, produce detailed project plans to help with their fundraising work and develop fundraising proposals.
ALSEP President, Maha Kassouf, said: ‘Every time we complete a stage of the capacity building programme designed by the MS International Federation, we renew our gratitude and appreciation for what the MS International Federation offer us and for what we learn through this programme, from skills to professional work of the society, in order to be able to better serve people with MS’.