The Rene Moawad Foundation – USA (RMF-USA) held its annual Gala dinner, celebrating its 25th anniversary, on Saturday November the 3rd at the Ritz Carlton in Washington DC. The proceeds of this Gala dinner go to the support of RMF’s numerous projects and activities in Lebanon especially its health care and educational programs.
A large and enthusiastic crowd of around 400 people from the Lebanese American community, Arab Americans and many American friends of Lebanon, was present at the event. The ambassador from Lebanon to the USA, Gabriel Issa, the State department representative, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, and the ASHA (American schools and hospitals abroad) office director at USAID, Anne Dix, along with many other prominent figures were among the attendees.
The crowd applauded the honoring of RMF’s founder H.E. Nayla Moawad who received the Visionary Leadership Award for her commitment, vision, and tenacity in bringing development and progress to rural areas of Lebanon.
A video showing Mrs. Moawad’s path and achievements left the audience speechless. “I didn’t want my husband René’s mission to be buried along with his body”, said Mrs. Moawad in one of her old videos. She was then introduced by her son, RMF’s executive director MP Michel Moawad.
“For our 25th anniversary, this year’s RMF Visionary leadership award will be a very special one”, said M. Moawad. “Indeed, this year’s award is all about breaking barriers. The woman we are honoring tonight is a living proof that with courage sacrifice commitment and determination, everything is possible. Everything she did and everything she achieved is a proof that you are confined only by the walls you build yourself”, he continued.
“Last but not least, she is the reason why we are all gathered here tonight. She was a woman of vision when she founded the RMF in 1991, and in the USA in 1993. She transformed the René Moawad’s legacy into an institution that broke the barriers of religious and regional and political belonging, in order to serve the human being in Lebanon, wherever he is and whatever he believes in, so that our fellow Lebanese can live on their land, free, while we assure their basic rights and dignity, he added.
Mrs. Moawad thanked the René Moawad Foundation USA for the surprise award. Nayla Moawad then thanked the RMF-USA team for the marvelous surprise and started her speech by saying: ‘’When there’s a will there’s a way, and I believe there will be always be a way to save Lebanon”.
She continued: ‘’I would also like to thank our friend, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, his Excellency David Hale, we are very pleased to have you with us tonight along with our Lebanese Ambassador to the US, his Excellency Gabriel Issa”. Nayla Moawad ended her speech thanking the American people for their endless support to Lebanon through USAID. We were able to implement together more than 62 projects all over Lebanon and working on 22 more projects for this year, under the USAID funded project Baladi. We have done an amazing work in the rural areas and aiming for more. Thank you USAID.
The trophy offered to Nayla Moawad is the work of the talented Lebanese artist Karim Chaaya.
The Gala highlighted the accomplishments of the RMF for the past quarter century. Another video showed how deeply rooted the work of the RMF is across all sectors in Lebanon.
The night continued as the master of ceremony Mr. Brian Karam, a Lebanese American journalist, Whitehouse correspondent, CNN contributor and investigative reporter, introduced the honoring of two prominent Lebanese Americans figures, whom Lebanon is very proud of, for their distinguished community service and life time achievement.
The whole audience applauded RMF’s decision to honor former Congressman Darel Issa, a Republican U.S. Representative for California’s 49th congressional district, serving in Congress from 2001 to 2017 and recently nominated by the President to be the Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency. Mr. Charif Souki, a successful Lebanese American business man and energy entrepreneur whose company was the first to be licensed to export natural gas from the US, introduced the honoree.
The second honoree was Mr. Richard Ashoo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Administration for the Department of Commerce. Former senator John E Sononu, from the state of New Hampshire, introduced the honoree.
The evening allowed many guests to discover the wonderful and renowned Lebanese singer and actress, Manal Mallat. The benefit dinner also featured a fashion show by the talented young Lebanese designer, Hassan Idris.