She embraced the cause of learning difficulties for students, and founded DYS center, the first school that deals with learning difficulties in Lebanon. The school offers psychological and scientific/professional assistance to students who suffer from obstacles that hinder them to complete their education successfully. She is an ambitious and inspirational young Lebanese; her name has become known in cultural circles in Lebanon and the Arab world.
Arab Woman Platform met Amani Al Jerdi the founder of DYS center for educational difficulties to highlight her wonderful humanitarian personality and work,
Amani, why did you focus on learning difficulties?
In fact, the idea began because I suffered from learning difficulties during the period of my studies … school years were not easy for me.
But I dealt with it so it does not stand as a barrier to move forward in my education…and since I went through this experience, I completed my studies in this field.
How did the idea of establishing a center come about? And what were the difficulties that you encounter in the beginning?
I noticed the urgent need for children and parents for specialized centers that addressed such difficulties in learning… and as we have seen insufficient attention from schools and nurseries to detect early signs that the child gives; here lies the danger of delayed diagnosis and securing the necessary treatment for children with learning difficulties.
We decided to specialize in this area because I believe that excellence is earned by focusing on what one is good at. The most significant difficulties encountered was to work on my abilities as a researcher and leader of the institution. The other challenge was to find a specialist team that believes in our vision and mission of the institution.
Did you get enough support morally and financially, and did people around you believe in your project from the beginning?
Finally, funding was a large part of the challenges faced, and here came the role of my brother Raed, who was the first pioneering investor. As for other donors and supporters they mostly were parents of children with learning difficulties and people known for their interest in humanitarian work. As for family, especially my father they were the main supporters morally, and part of the implementation stage of the idea on the ground.
DYS had an important humanitarian role in assisting Syrian refugee children, tell us about this role?
We could not ignore the humanitarian crisis compelling our people in Syria, my country Lebanon was one of the first to foster Syrian children. And since the vision of DYS is a comprehensive one embracing children of any nationality or any particular social situation, it was necessary to secure the educational assistance for Syrian children despite the scarcity of resources available. My work with these children is an additive to my humanity and for the growth of new meaning that I want to add to my life. Here “footsteps” (Khuta) initiative came about, with the coordination of the Red Cross, to go to Refugee camps and provide educational programs for children and their parents to help sustain their development. And now we are preparing a comprehensive program targeting 40% of the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon in coordination with the Red Cross organizations, and I appeal from your honorable platform a call to save these children from going astray and lend a helping hand and support. And we are in full cooperation with any organizations or institution that is concerned to save what can be saved from homelessness and illiteracy loss.
You are participating in the “Queen” program which is one of the serious programs that encourages women to work and be creative, tell us about the program and your participation?
My participation in the “Queen” program is for seeing its value to what it adds from support to initiatives provided by women in the field of social responsibility. This is not surprising for the Secretary-General of TV in the General Union of Arab producers in television business, Mr. Mustafa Salamah, or from media representative Rehab Zienedine who works to raise the level of the Arab media and the role of women in this regard.
As for my choice in this program it’s because of the many years my foundation played an active role in the Arab world through our conferences, and my TV program “students with Amani” to raise awareness for mothers in the Arab world, and our centers to diagnose and offer early treatment for children, and training programs for teachers, which requires amending the curriculum to integrate the children in schools, and of course, supporting the refugees wherever they are.
What advice would you give any young girl who has the passion and the desire to start a project, whether humanitarian or a commercial one?
I wish every woman to realize that thinking about what to do is the first step to turn dreams into realities and initiatives. The Arab world is the homeland of effective initiatives. Her first support is her support for herself and her belief that she is capable, her initiative, and being proactive is a national duty and humane one, and even it is a family duty because she is also a mother, wife, and entrepreneur. Therefor she holds the responsibility to be a role model for her family first, and a role model for her homeland second as well as her humanity.