Board Member, Intisar Foundation
H.E. Christian Nakhlé is an Ambassador (on leave) and the Chairman of Suez & Levant Consultancy.
“Intisar Foundation has greatly contributed to improving the self-esteem of those women who now feel safe in an environment that improves their mental and emotional well-being. This in itself is a very great achievement.”
Please give us your opinion on the Intisar Foundation’s achievements since inception in 2019 until today.
Since inception, Intisar Foundation has strived to self-empower Arab women affected by war and violence. It is a particularly sensitive subject in my eyes as women are the first victims of conflict and war. Without offending anyone, even in the times of Peace, women in patriarchal societies are subject to a number of constraints that no one across the world would envy them.
Intisar Foundation has developed its own programme to ensure some relief to those women by using drama therapy. I must admit that I discovered this therapy by being a board member at the Foundation. We are talking here of a psychological approach, gentle and effective, that takes into consideration the stigma that surrounds mental health in these populations. Women remain today the cornerstone of every family in the Middle East. They can implement real change in their homes and communities, and contribute to reaching Peace in a larger environment.
The Foundation has reached hundreds of direct beneficiaries and thousands of indirect beneficiaries. This program is producing impressive results in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Intisar Foundation has also greatly contributed to improving the self-esteem of those women who now feel safe in an environment that improves their mental and emotional well-being. This in itself is a very great achievement.
“There is the need to act and not just condemn. We should individually and collectively act and fight to protect women and children from violence and ignorance.”
Why have you decided to lend your support to the Foundation and what would be your advice to others when it comes to supporting humanitarian/philanthropic causes?
I am very proud to be able to make my modest contribution to the work that HH Sheikha Intisar does within the Foundation that she chairs. I immediately accepted to join the board of the Foundation as the needs are great in terms of mental and psychological care that should be provided to these suffering women. The cruel news that recently hit us from Afghanistan reminds us of the urgency to protect even more distressed women who will perhaps again be deprived of education, work, sometimes be publicly beaten or stoned … This is the very reason why we should individually and collectively act and fight to protect women and children from violence and ignorance. There is the need to act and not just condemn.
Women affected by war and violence have a higher risk of committing acts of violence because of years of compounded trauma, displacement, and awful living conditions. Drama therapy can help these women with behavioural and social changes that will eventually lead to Peacebuilding. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD with more severe symptoms, this leads to a variety of different outcomes like lack of productivity, social withdrawal, economic inactivity, and aggressive or violent behaviour. And as violence becomes a cycle and leads to more violence, being the cornerstone of their families, women can break this cycle, allowing their children to grow up with healthier behaviours. This leads to a chain of events where the Peace spreads like the butterfly effect, from the women to their families, to their communities, and eventually to the world.
How are you contributing in achieving the Foundation’s goals?
The Foundation is doing great and is well tooled to do even better. I would like us to address a larger number of distressed women, to treat their mental health and to self-empower them. I hope the Foundation will embrace a larger number of women in the coming months and to spread its programme into new territories, in other countries than those today already covered by the team. I was mentioning Afghanistan in the previous question… that would be a real challenge if we could join our efforts with other NGOs and provide some help to those women who are about to get thrown back into the Middle Ages.
“Peace can only happen when people in a society have inner Peace.”
“Top-down processes are needed to implement Peace. This is what diplomats and governments try to do in their daily work.
But I also believe that Peace is also built by bottom-up approaches, with individuals starting to echo Peace to others and to pay it forward.”
Lastly, what message would you like to share with the world for the occasion of International Peace Day 2021?
Mental health is an extremely important element of any humanitarian intervention, especially those geared towards achieving Peace. Peace can only happen when people in a society have inner Peace. Of course, there are political and economic issues that have to be dealt with. Top-down processes are needed to implement Peace. This is what diplomats and governments try to do in their daily work.
But I also believe that Peace is also built by bottom-up approaches, with individuals starting to echo Peace to others and to pay it forward. As mentioned by the UN, for Peacebuilding to happen, we must address the trauma, strengthen resilience and social unity, and foster reconciliation on both the individual and community level, thereby contributing to creating the conditions for sustaining Peace. We cannot ignore the mental, psychological, and emotional health of community members on the path to building long-lasting Peace. NGOs and the civil society then have a crucial role in helping these individuals’ mental health that is often ignored. They are the catalyst that helps these individuals to spread peace.
My last word on the occasion of International Peace Day 2021 goes to support women in Afghanistan, those silent heroines who have for decades been the victims of barbarism and violence, most of the time – not to say all the time – driven by warriors who are also in need of mental health support.