It’s not an everyday occurrence that a 19 year old manages to successfully put together a charity organisation all by herself and raise $20,000 in one month for a humanitarian crisis back in her home country.
Narmin Abbas, a 19 year old Australian Lebanese studying construction management at university, while juggling a job at IGA Supermarkets, doesn’t believe that age, occupation or gender should ever be an obstacle to helping others.
“It all started when my cousins and I made a Whatsapp group to help relatives back in her home village,” Narmin narrates. “I saw how much relief we were providing for our village in Lebanon and thought why not do the same for the whole of Lebanon?,” she continues.
Three months later, upon hearing the news of a huge explosion in North Lebanon that killed 31 people and injured many others, Narmin was horrified at the fact that many Lebanese people couldn’t afford or find burn medication and bandages.
“That was the turning point for me. I felt a personal and humanitarian duty to do something, so I decided to set up a non-profit charity page on social media, under the name of HelpLebanon2021, even though many people said it wouldn’t work,” a moved Narmin states.
Surprisingly, her Instagram page did receive a lot of support. Donations from friends and family started pouring in and her Instagram page gradually gained more and more popularity. In one month, Narmin was able to put together $A20,000 to help people back in Lebanon with basic necessities such as baby formula, fever medication, pain relief medication, sanitary needs, basic food needs and much more.
Narmin was overwhelmed by the support from the community, whether it was friends, family or local businesses like IGA supermarkets that sold her products at cost price, ShoeGrab in Bankstown that donated money, VividWhitening that donated a percentage with every sold teeth-whitening kit, Semilla Skincare that was the first to donate a genrous amount of money, and Islamic Women Counseling that immensely helped in growing the popularity of her initiative.
“I would like to thank all of these businesses for making this initiative come true and for making it possible to help some very needy and hungry families back in Lebanon,” Narmin gratefully mentions.
“I would also like to thank my “Jedo’ (grandfather) who has always been, and continues to be, a great supporter for my cause” Narmin goes on. “He has supported my cause from day one and this wouldn’t have been possible without his belief in me and his amazing mental support,” Narmin explains with a big smile.
When asked what challenges Narmin faced in putting this together, she mentions that juggling her personal life, education and job was probably the hardest part of all.
“I would have to say this has been the most stressful time of my life,” Narmin tells me and I could sense the honesty in her voice. “Collaborating with different people here in Australia and back in Lebanon, getting back to messages from people and just managing the whole thing did indeed put a lot of pressure on me.” she continues. “At one point, I got physically sick,” she tells me.
Another big challenge Narmin points out to me and which many people might overlook is how being involved in such a humanitarian cause has an indirect impact on a person’s mental and emotional health.
“Hearing heartbreaking stories of people back in Lebanon was not easy to take in. I spent many nights awake thinking how badly these people were suffering back there as I lay on my bed in peace,” an emotional Narmin narrates. “It did require a lot of mental strength and I thank God that I was able to mentally bear all of this,” she states.
“What are your plans for the future?,” I ask a bright, optimistic, and hardworking Narmin. “Well, I plan on making things more organised and expanding the cause from a social media platform to a more professional digital form as a website or application. I also plan on creating different food packages like a ‘feed a family for a month’ package. Maybe also particular fundings for particular causes within the organisation,” Narmin illustrates.
“What’s your message for today’s youth?,” I finally ask her. “Be thankful. Be grateful. Thank God for the food you have on your table because there are people who go to bed hungry every night. And when you can, help. Donate, spread awareness, shed light on what’s happening, check on your relatives back home and offer help where needed,” Narmin concludes with a full heart.