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Records of YMCA international work in Lebanon

Identifier: Y.USA.9-2-55


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, maps, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in Lebanon, with the majority of the collection focused between 1940s and 1990s. A great deal of the collection concerns refugee work done in Lebanon that focused on relief and rehabilitation. The documentation of this work concerns Palestinian Refugees who lived in a number of camps in Lebanon after the Palestine War in 1948 and Lebanese citizens who were left in need of assistance after the Lebanese Civil War which lasted from 1975 to 1990. The collection demonstrates that the Lebanese YMCA partnered with many outside agencies to accomplish this relief work. The agencies covered in this collection include ATFL (American Task Force for Lebanon), USAID (United States Agency for International Development), PVC (USAID Office of Private and Voluntary Cooperation), the Tinker Foundation, AmeriCares, MAP (Medical Assistance Program) International, ARD (Association for Rural Development), UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), UNDRO (United Nations Disaster Relief Organization), UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund), the Red Cross, the American Embassy Vocational Training and Relief Assistance, the World Bank, ICVA (International Council of Voluntary Agencies), Church World Service, JCC (Joint Christian Committee for Social Services in Lebanon), MECC (Middle East Council of Churches) and DSPR (Department on Service to Palestine Refugees), a branch of the MECC based in Cyprus. Many YMCA agencies and programs are also shown to assist the Lebanon YMCA within the collection, these include but are not limited to, the YMCA Buildings for Brotherhood Program, YMCA Student World Service Program, YMCA Capital Assistance Program, YMCA Overseas Service Corps, YMCA World Urban Network and YMCA Humanitarian Assistance Program.

Much of the collection discusses vocational training, development programs and camping programs that the Lebanon YMCA developed. Most of the refugee work was focused in these areas as was most of the standard Lebanese YMCA work. The YMCA Camping Program for War Affected Children and Orphans which took place in the late 1980s is a focal point for correspondence within the collection as is the development and use of Camp Faris at Ras el Matn, purchased in the 1960s. The Tyre Project, a secondary school for refugees, is also discussed a great deal throughout correspondence and reports within the collection as is the development of the Rouche YMCA in Beirut in 1970. The development of the YMCA Middle East Committee is another key topic of this collection. The Lebanon YMCA was one of a few founding members of this group which consisted of UAR (United Arab Republic) YMCAs. There are reports and correspondence within the collection demonstrating its importance in the YMCA's ability to reach other Middle East nations.

Most of the collection documents work out of Beirut and Tripoli though relief work in Lebanon was spread throughout the entirety of the country, Tyre hosted a secondary school and Camp Faris was located at Ras el Matn, a mountain top town in the Baabda district of Lebanon. There is also documentation on Cairo, Egypt; Cyprus, Greece and Jordan due to their involvement, along with Lebanon, in the YMCA Middle East Committee and the French National Alliance of YMCAs due to their part in the development of the Lebanese YMCA. This documentation of other countries is minimal within the collection. Correspondence and reports involve Ghassan Fares Sayyah, Walter I. Jacoby, Ezra Porter Young, Lawrence Edgar Denison Aplin, Harry Brunger, Roushdy Melek and Roy E. Smail.


  • Creation: 1949-1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found in ( 1920s-1990s)


Language of Materials


Use of Materials:

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright, ownership, and to obtain all the necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.


The earliest Lebanese YMCAs date back to the 1890s, established in a Syrian Protestant College in Beirut, and several high schools in Lebanon maintained by the American and British missionary societies and Protestant nationals. In 1920 A YMCA was started in Tripoli, but it lasted for only five years. A movement to launch a city association in Beirut but also foundered. In 1930 Foyer des Jeunes was organized in connection with the French National Alliance of YMCAs and was recognized by the World's Alliance of YMCAs. From 1931 to 1939 the Lebanon YMCA had a French secretary. For a short time during World War II it was taken over by the British Army YMCA. After World War II it was revived by a Lebanese secretary who was trained by the French, and again reorganized by the World Alliance of YMCAs.

After an influx of Palestinian refugees in 1948 from the Palestine War, work began in a number of camps under World Alliance auspices. In 1951 the Beirut YMCA received a fraternal secretary, among other aid, from the North American International Committee of YMCAs. In 1955 representatives of the Associations of Beirut and Tripoli formed an ad hoc YMCA National Committee of Lebanon and by the end of 1956 a constitution for a National Alliance had been adopted. In June 1957 a National Alliance of the YMCAs of Lebanon was formally established with full legal status. The first project of the newly established YMCA, in service to Palestinian refugee, was a secondary school in Tyre, a city in southern Lebanon. The United States YMCA sent a fraternal secretary in an advisory role to assist this project, and financial assistance came from the Near East Christian Council of Churches, the Joint Christian Committee for Social Service in Lebanon (JCC) and the World Alliance of YMCAs, among others. From 1960 there was a direct contractual relationship between the Refugee Services of the World Alliance of YMCAs and the United Nations Works and Relief Agency. This was for work among Palestinian refugees within the host countries of these refugees, including Lebanon.

In 1963 camping was introduced to the Lebanese YMCA. The Beirut YMCA was also reorganized to include larger elements of their community during this time. By 1966 a purchase of 105,000 square meters of land was completed at Ras el Matn. Camp Faris, a regional camping program was initiated there. The Rouche YMCA center was initiated in Beirut in 1970. It offered services to Lebanese and international communities in Beirut and boosted membership from 200 to over 3,000. The Rouche center also allowed the Beirut YMCA to expand its outreach program for inner city youth. The United States YMCA's International Committee supplied support through staffing of fraternal secretaries, volunteers, program support, building projects and partial salary support of Lebanese laymen.

By 1969, the UAR (United Arab Republic) YMCAs primarily consisted of ten associations in Egypt and Jordan, plus four YMCA units in Lebanon. They comprised most of the YMCA work in the Arab Middle East. The promotion of extension work and development of professionals within this area became a priority of the YMCA. Staff and lay training as well as instruction in securing resources that were needed became focal points for instruction. By 1993 the UAR YMCAs had developed into a Middle East Committee based in Cairo. It was primarily through this that the World Alliance of YMCAs worked in the Middle East. The Middle East Committee had five standing committees of its own, development, leadership, inter-movement cooperation, finance and young people. Membership consisted of general secretaries and presidents, chairs or lay volunteers of YMCA associations in the Middle East.

The outbreak of civil war in 1975 caused rapid and drastic changes in the Lebanon YMCA, as well as an urgent need for emergency relief in the area. The YMCA repositioned itself as a leading national NGO and began to serve all the regions of Lebanon. During the war, which lasted until 1990, the Lebanon YMCA became actively engaged in carrying out a number of strategic programs in both relief and rehabilitation. The YMCA oversaw the distribution of food, clothing and medicine to the destitute and war-affected. YMCA rehabilitation efforts focused also on the training of young men and women in vocations in order to offer them an alternative to joining the militias or generating an illegal income. Assistance was also offered to social service institutions helping them repair physical damages caused by the war and training their staff in more efficient methods to meet the needs of the population.

By the 1990s Lebanon faced significant economic and social suffering. More than 100,000 people had died, another 200,000 were wounded and as many as a million were refugees from the start of the civil war until the early 1990s and later. The YMCA continued to work with refugees and those affected by the war with community need driven programs that were assisted by multiple outside organizations and with an approach to aid that avoided preference for religion or political affiliations. As of 2010 the Lebanon YMCA had expanded to meet the changing needs of reconstruction and national development in Lebanon. Its partners in development include USAID (United States Agency of International Development), WHO (World Health Organization), IMA (Interchurch Medical Assistance, Inc) and MAP (Medical Assistance Program) International among others.

The following is a list of individuals who served as YMCA secretaries in Lebanon along with their dates of service:

Aplin, Lawrence Edgar Denison (1951-1956) Lapp, Carol (1971-1972)
Brown, Paul W. (1972-1974) Meter, David Glenn (1966-1968)
Brunger, Harry (1961-1975) Mysorski, Gary (1974-1976)
Cain, Murray Hugh (1964-1965) Shoemaker, Robert E. (1961-1962)
Chamberas, James A. (1965-1967) Ward, Brian D. (1969-1971)
Douchkoff, Leroy S. (1968-1969) Young, Ezra Porter (1956-1962)
Jacoby, Walter I. (1967-1972)
Historical information largely adapted and quoted formWorld Service: A History of the Foreign Work and World Service of the Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States and Canada, (New York: Association Press, 1957) by Kenneth Scott Latourette; from "YMCA of Lebanon" (, retrieved January 15th, 2013); and from the collection.


5.6 Cubic Feet (7 boxes)


Correspondence, minutes, reports, financial documents, pamphlets, maps, journal and newspaper articles and other records of the YMCA movement in Lebanon, especially concerning relief and rehabilitation work with Palestinian refugees.


Additional information on and papers of many of the YMCA secretaries who served in Lebanon (see names listed in the historical sketch above) can be found in the YMCA Biographical Files (Y.USA.12) at the Kautz Family YMCA Archives.

Processing Information:

Processed as part of Fast Processing Project II, March 2009, as collection FP048. Material has been minimally processed. Folder descriptions may be general and material has not been grouped into series.

Catalog Record ID number:

An Inventory of Its Records
Finding aid prepared by Lara Friedman-Shedlov and Melanie Doherty.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Kautz Family YMCA Archives Collecting Area