Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Camp Rafiqi

Project #
Wellesley College
  • Lana Dweik
  • Sara Minkara
  • Maysa Mourad
  • Melda Salhab

Camp Rafiqi

Legally blind since age seven, Sara Minkara, a Lebanese American studying at Wellesley, realized that she was fortunate to live in the United States and have access to innovations and tools not available to visually impaired young people in Lebanon. In 2009, Sara and classmate Maysa Mourad opened the first Camp Rafiqi. “Rafiqi” means together in Arabic, and the goal of the camp is for visually impaired and sighted children to enjoy a four-week summer session of recreational and educational activities.

For their Project for Peace in the summer of 2011, Sara and Maysa were joined by two other Wellesley students and ran two camps, one in Beirut and one in Tripoli. Their work began with recruiting and training volunteer counselors, most of whom were Lebanese college students. Throughout the camp sessions, math, science, and computer skills were taught and children participated in arts and crafts and sports. Visually impaired students were offered resources and educational tools common in the United States but rare in Lebanon. Sighted children learned about the challenges facing their peers and how they could be overcome.

Plans are underway for additional camps in Lebanon, and a nonprofit has been established in the United States to support the work of Camp Rafiqi. Ongoing collaborations with Lebanese corporations will lead to an internship program for the visually impaired and increasing opportunities for greater participation in society.