As part of Russell Bedford’s corporate social responsibility programme, each year the network makes donations to charitable organisations.
This year, in partnership with Russell Bedford’s Lebanese member firm, the network chose to make a donation to a project, to help the people of Beirut.
Following the devastating explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020, that killed at least 200 people and injured around 5,000 others, Russell Bedford wanted to do something to help the people in the city, whose lives have been turned upside down.
Rather than simply make a donation, Mahmoud Saghir, director at Bureau Saghir & Associates, and his colleagues, wanted to show their fellow citizens how much they cared. Lebanese National Team Basketball Player, Ali Mansour, also gave up his time to help with the project, meeting with those who are struggling and helping with the distribution of supplies.
In a rapid response to the disaster, Russell Bedford’s firm in Beirut aimed to support the most vulnerable as quickly as possible, setting up a crisis response line to allow those in need to seek prompt assistance, and by sending a team out onto the streets of Beirut to speak to those most in need.
The team sought to determine, directly from those who needed help the most, the critical items they needed for survival. Many of the people met are living on less than one US dollar a day, unable to afford proper meals and the most basic living essentials.
Phase two involved contacting suppliers to negotiate the best rates for essentials including food, medicine and detergent. This was an extremely important part of the project, since most goods in Lebanon are imported and the value of the Lebanese pound had decreased sharply, while the cost of goods had been increasing exponentially. Hence, the current crisis exacerbated an already difficult challenge.
The final phase involved packing up boxes of supplies and visiting those hardest hit by the disaster. By the end of the project, numerous families across Beirut’s poorest communities will have been visited.
Speaking about the project, Mahmoud Saghir said: "We are in a much more fortunate situation than many others in Beirut; we have the means to rebuild our businesses, and our futures are far more stable than many others in our city. So; it was important to me personally, and to my team, to help some of those who are living in extremely difficult circumstances; and to try in any small way, to help them get through this period.”
He added: "It was a humbling experience to connect with those who are suffering right now; to hear from them as to how they are feeling and to ask them what we can do to help. We are extremely grateful to Russell Bedford International for their kind donation, which we know will help lessen the burden on many of the people we have met over recent weeks – thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.”
Russell Bedford CEO, Stephen Hamlet, said: "Around this time last year, whilst at our annual global conference in Sydney, we made a donation to an Australian charity supporting survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking. This year, forced into conducting our global event online, we reflected on the troubled times people are currently going through and where we could provide some support.”
He added: "Lebanon had already entered a critical period, which was compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, and then this explosion. I had the personal pleasure of visiting Bureau Saghir & Associates in Beirut a couple of years ago, where I was greeted with such immense hospitality. The city is beautiful and we are very proud of the progressive and forward-thinking practice representing our global network.”
Stephen concluded: "With Mahmoud’s energetic and enthusiastic character, our international board were fully supportive of his efforts to help the people of Beirut through this extremely difficult and painful time. Mahmoud - we thank you and your team for your care and for your efforts, and we are delighted that Russell Bedford could play a small role in helping such a big cause.”