Empowerment Through Integration (ETI) is an NGO working with young people with disabilities and their families across Lebanon. Founded in 2011, ETI primarily focuses on young people with visual impairments, offering life-skills training in group and one-to-one settings, parent workshops, and other community activities to promote social inclusion. ETI also works with relief agencies to ensure that young refugees with disabilities can also access its programmes. The number of participants in its activities has increased ten-fold from 39 in 2011 to 381 in 2018, and ETI has also been piloted in Nicaragua.
“ETI’s Empowerment Programs promote authentic inclusion one child, family and community at a time. We hope to change the narrative around disability and for individuals to feel valued and empowered.”
Young people with disabilities in Lebanon experience social and academic exclusion, and this is intensified by geographic isolation and poverty.
ETI runs five programmes across Lebanon, the primary one being the Life Skills Intensive Programme – a two-week training on orientation, mobility, and independent living for young people who are blind or are otherwise visually impaired. A follow-up Life Skills Extension Programme offers one-to-one training in the young person’s home and community for up to ten months. Parent workshops ensure that the skills acquired in the trainings are maintained within family and community settings. ETI also runs a volunteer training programme and a community service project for people with and without disabilities.
ETI is the only organization in Lebanon offering this kind of life-skills training to young people who are blind and visually impaired. Between 2016 and 2018 it has supported over 1,000 young people and trained over 300 volunteers. ETI recruits Lebanese participants through its partnership with local schools and the Ministry of Social Affairs,, and Syrian and Palestinian refugees with the assistance of international bodies, such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The organization is also working with the Ministry of Education to incorporate its approach into the mainstream school system.
• ETI supported over 1,000 young people and trained more than 300 volunteers between 2016 and 2018.
• The organization receives specific funding from UNHCR for its work with refugees.
As part of its replication plan, ETI is considering charging a service fee to external agencies. For example, in 2018 the organization facilitated staff training at the Ministry of Social Affairs, and this may become a future source of income.
ETI wants to develop a regional hub in another part of the world to replicate its impact, and piloted a programme in Nicaragua from 2013 to 2015. ETI plans to work with partners so that replication can be locally driven, with ETI acting as a hub organization offering consultancy or capacity-building support.