2- Experience through the “Restos du Cœur Association”

Experience of: Mrs Antoinette Kazan

Last update: 15 May 2024


Reference of Social Work In The Face of Crises and Disasters Booklets – Part Two

Researcher – Hiam Samaha Kahi
Research Assistant – Aimee Ghanem

The idea of “Restos du coeur” was born at one social worker’s home, Mrs. Antoinette Kazan, at the beginning of 1975 war, when a number of children who lost their families during the war were welcomed at the dinner table.

After the death of this social worker’s mother, and upon her request, her father began to daily welcome men who had lost their wives, at breakfast and then at lunch table. Consequently, he proposed the idea of creating a restaurant to his daughter, and so they did. In 1983, the chain of “Restos du coeur” was launched under the pressing need and the conditions of war and displacement. At the forefront of these restaurants was, and still is, the “Ahlan Wa Sahlan” restaurant in Sin El Fil, of which Mrs. Kazan took the responsibility with the help of a number of Sin El Fil women and many families and friends. After the displacement of Mount Lebanon people in 1988, the idea began to grow, with the distribution of hot meals to the displaced families and children in the schools of Sin El Fil and Nabaa and other nearby neighborhoods. This initiative was well received and supported by many Lebanese figures who started to support it. As a result, an association headed by President Charles Helou was formed, established and supported Al-Mahaba restaurants, which have become 23 restaurants. The Association obtained recognition of its establishment from the Lebanese government on July 18, 1988, under No. 87/AD and the name of: “Friends of Al-Mahaba Restaurants”. The idea expanded, and Al-Mahaba restaurants still exist today, distributed all over the Lebanese regions. Its founder continues to do her best to maintain it with courage, determination and commitment, as long as she believes that social work is above all a service, giving and presence. Volunteers from the local communities are assuming the work at these restaurants, defying difficulties and obstacles to accomplish their tasks. And as the founder of the association Mrs. Kazan said: “The social worker’s job is like an ant work… Its size might be small, but its burden is big and it never gets tired nor surrenders.” … She continued: “I do not think that any social worker did not take care of a neighbor, an elderly, or a needy person during the war years, even if it was in his/her personal capacity…”.