Have you ever had an impactful conversation that stayed with you for a long time? That is exactly how I felt about the conversation I had with Rabih Torbay, CEO of Project HOPE. You may remember the Charity Matter’s post a few months back? Today I am excited to share that very special conversation with you, as I speak to our very special guest, Rabih Torbay. When crises happen around the globe, hurricanes, floods, war, pandemics, Project HOPE is there. The news may tell you every night that the world is dark, but I can guarantee you there is hope and this conversation is a good place to find it.
Project HOPE places power in the hands of local health care workers to save lives around the world. In this episode, Rabih and I discuss how he – a civil engineer with no medical background – became involved with the work of Project HOPE and how that experience has changed his life forever.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION:
Charity Matters: Has Project Hope’s strategy always been a community-based approach?
It has been right from the beginning. You know, Project HOPE is people. It’s people to people. That’s how we connect. And it has always been the community. It has always been the doctors and nurses on the ground. And for us, the last thing we want to do is replace them. Our job is to support them and working at the community level, working at the clinic level, and at the hospital level.
Charity Matters: Tell us the journey that lead you to Project HOPE and this humanitarian work?
I wish I could say I planned it all, but I didn’t. I’m a civil engineer by background, so I have no health education or health background. And I grew up in Lebanon during the civil war. After the war ended, I ended up going to Sierra Leone in West Africa. Initially, the plan was to go for two weeks and I ended up…you know, stretching that to nine years. . .
And for me, that was a wake-up call . . . And that’s when I used my engineering background to start coordinating the water and making it clean . . .
…The first time there were about 100 people dying every day. Within a week, it went down to two people, and within 10 days, there was no more death.
. . .It showed me what a little smart investment could make in terms of an impact on people’s lives . . . and I never looked back. That was 1999. And I started doing this work. And yeah, it’s been, it’s been amazing ever since.
Charity Matters: What fuels you to keep doing this work?
People always ask “what keeps you going?” I mean, it’s that human resilience that we underestimate. Human resilience is amazing. Whether it’s the people that I saw in Beirut when I went and visited after the blast in Beirut, or in Sierra Leone, or Iraq or Afghanistan. People’s resilience is what makes us work harder – when you see them that they’ve got nothing, but they still have a smile on their face.
Charity Matters: How has this journey changed you?
I’m am a completely changed person from focusing on my company and making money to really focusing on how can we improve as a society. It is no longer about me; it’s no longer about my family. It’s always now about the entire society, how can we help each other?
We’re all in this together. We’re all in this to help the next person and I’m forever grateful for Project HOPE to give me the support you need to actually work for such an organization. It’s just my dream come true.
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