“Being surrounded by change makers and influential people encouraged me to pursue my passions.”
Lebanese-born Lynn Tabbara recalls that it was during her time as a student at IE when she made “the conscious decision to devote my life to public service.” Before that, during her childhood and adolescence in “a country torn apart by war,” she had known the terrible consequences of the conflicts in the Middle East and the resulting migrations. That unforgettable experience would make her into the firm defender of women’s rights that she is today.
Tabbara, who currently lives in London and is the organizer of TEDxCoventGardenWomen –an event that deals with questions of gender and identity– values very positively the time she spent in Madrid studying for an International MBA: “It not only enriched me intellectually and academically, but introduced me to a very inspiring network of friends, long-lasting and genuine friendships that have added valued to my life in every aspect. Being surrounded by such a group of amazing change makers and influential people, I was encouraged to pursue my passions.”
In 2013, as a result of that desire to take part in social change and value creation in Lebanon, Tabbara and a good friend, Zelena El Zein, founded Intaliqi, an NGO with a clear objective: “to give a voice to socially disadvantaged women by stripping away limiting labels and stereotypes.” The world was then beginning to be aware of the effects of the great humanitarian crisis caused by the war that since 2011 had been raging in neighboring Syria. Intaliqi came about “as part of a natural process to meet the need to help that displaced community.”
The name Intaliqi comes from the verb in Arabic that means “to leap forward”. With the Community Kitchen and Roots Project programs leading the way, this non-profit organization wants to support that leap by improving living conditions for this displaced community. To do so, it teaches the female refugees employable skill sets, empowering them to create value in the camps, while at the same time feeding hundreds of families in those camps.
“Both projects unleashed the women’s self-confidence, self-esteem and their creativity. Not only were they learning technical skills like cooking and agriculture, but they were also learning life skills that made them agents for change and leaders in their respective families and communities,” says Tabbara.
Intaliqi provides medical assistance, psychological support, mentoring, life skills training and hygiene awareness in the camps. In the future, this NGO aims to expand its aid to, among other socially disadvantaged groups, Palestine women refugees, Lebanese women and teenage mothers. Likewise, to improve access to education for refugee girls, Intaliqi hopes to open a girls’ school and provide informal education to young displaced Syrian women.
“Socially disadvantaged women are often deprived of equal access to education, health care, capital and decision-making power. Intaliqi seeks to address these issues in a holistic manner, thereby improving women’s living conditions and contributing to their civil, economic, social and cultural fulfillment,” says Tabbara, who in her many encounters with different groups of marginalized people has been able to see the enormous potential of these women and girls.