Temps de lecture :2 minutes
Raïf Atat has been a fashion designer since he was old enough to work. Today he is in charge of four employees in his cloth-making workshop in the south of Beirut, Lebanon. In his fifties, this father of five has the air of happiness and good nature of one who has at last found peace.
The day that his neighbourhood was devastated by bombs during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in July and August 2006, he lost everything. To set up his workshop, he had had to obtain a loan from the Professional Mutual-Aid Association (AEP), a partner of Emmaüs International. A loan that he had finished repaying in 2005. “I took out my first loan from the AEP in December 2004, so I could buy a better machine for my dress-making workshop”, explains Raïf. “The last bombings completely destroyed the building that my workshop was in”.
At the end of the hostilities, the AEP, which finances and supports many different small investment, family based, shared or co-operative projects, drew up an inventory of the losses of those borrowing in the affected regions, in order to restart their activities as quickly as possible. The organisation then re-equipped those borrowers who had suffered with loans.
Thanks to funds provided by Emmaüs International, the AEP authorised a second loan to Raïf and the end of 2006. This credit allowed him to rebuild and expand his workshop, to hire more employees, and to import the finest materials from China. He will have repaid his last instalment by January 2012. “Without the AEP, I could have never returned to my work, helping my family and my employees”, he said. Between its creation in 1984 and the end of 2008, the work of the AEP has allowed 9 000 borrowers to keep their head above water. Today, financed projects come to a total of 7.5 million dollars, and 1.5 million loans are currently provided in the country.