Jul 09, 2024

Bringing Solar Power to Schools and Hospitals Amid Lebanon’s Economic Crisis

The approximately 350 students attending the Qana Intermediate Public School in Southern Lebanon now have reliable electricity and access to clean drinking water because of a new solar photovoltaic system installed on the roof this past May. Collaborating with the respective Rotary Clubs of Dearborn and Troy as well as local rotaries in Lebanon, Zaman provided a portion of the $15,000 to fund the project in Qana, a small town that has faced crisis due to conflict near the border with Israel for decades. The solar collection system converts sunlight into electrical energy and is expected to provide electricity for at least 30 years. It is also essential to operating the school’s water filtration system so students have access to clean drinking water. 

Students at Qana Intermediate Public School in Southern Lebanon


Longtime Rotarian David Donnellon led fundraising for the project to bring relief in a country facing severe inflation and economic crisis that’s disrupting all aspects of life; leaving many critical institutions like schools, hospitals, and orphanages with limited or no electricity. “The government in Lebanon cannot provide more than an hour or two of electricity a day,” said Donnellon. “But with the solar collection system, we are providing the school with electricity 24 hours a day. The school can now also function like a community center and help the students and their families beyond just education.”

As part of a broader effort, Lebanese Rotary clubs are working to provide similar solar panel systems for 30 schools, two hospitals and two orphanages with funding through local and international clubs as well as the Rotary Foundation – the efforts are expected to cost $750,000 as fundraising efforts continue. Donnellon is an architect, designer and urban planner with J & A Architectural Engineering in Troy, who designed the Islamic Center of America in the late 1990s and whose wife is a first-generation American of Lebanese descent. He undertook the project, in part, to support his friend Allie Fayz who was born and raised in Qana, and who has family and friends suffering amid Lebanon’s economic crisis. “I feel thankful for all those who donated to make it happen and am grateful for Zaman’s generous support to make this project a reality,” said Donnellon, noting how the project reflects the reach of Rotary’s global network. “That’s the beauty of the Rotary, it’s non-denominational and non-political,” he added. “It is a community without borders and networking for the good of your company and your community to promote peace and understanding through projects around the world.”

The project is part of Zaman’s international work, which has impacted 26 countries as it provides funding to international partners to provide disaster relief, humanitarian aid, access to potable water, and support for orphans. “We believe people deserve dignified experiences that restore self-worth and empowers inner strength that poverty often threatens to strip it away,” said Zaman CEO and Founder Najah Bazzy. “By providing reliable electricity and access to clean water, this project can bring hope to children and their families who’ve been facing crisis for quite some time. We were proud to support the Rotarians’ work to help change children’s lives in Lebanon.”

Prior to the Rotary project, Zaman’s most recent effort in the country, the “Lift Lebanon” campaign, provided more than $463,000 to International Medical Corps. It resulted in unlocking $13.8 million in leveraged funds to provide health care and medical supplies following the devastating explosion in Beirut in 2020. 

Learn more about Zaman’s International relief work.