The Joy Effect

Stirring Change in the Youth of Bourj Hammoud

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Joy, the social worker leading the Psychosocial Support (PSS) program at Manara Youth Center (MYC). Our recent interview with her offered a glimpse into the beautiful ways God is using her in the lives of youth. So join us in exploring inspiring stories from her journey!

Could you take us through the key moments that led you into social work?

I’ve always been the kind of person who can’t just stand around if I see someone being wronged. This urge to help and fight for fairness is what got me into social work. I got my start studying Social Work in college and diving into internships at places like Mission De Vie and the Psychiatrique De La Croix hospital [The Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross]. Then, I went on a nine-month mission trip in North Africa, where connecting with locals on faith rekindled my dedication to using my skills for God’s service.

What’s the story behind your decision to join the Manara Youth Center team?

I worked for three years at a secular organization as a social worker. But deep down, I yearned to use my skills in a place where Christ was at the center. That’s when I heard about Manara Youth Center. I jumped at the chance, applied, and here I am six months later. I’ve fit in here incredibly fast. I’m excited about our work and the safe space we provide for the youth. And then I watch my co-workers, the youth workers, sharing the Gospel with youth—I just know in my heart that we’re doing something that glorifies God.

Can you describe what you do at Manara Youth Center? 

As a social worker at the Manara Youth Center, I administer a well-being assessment for each student to identify their psychological needs. High-risk individuals participate in our ‘Connecting Hearts and Minds’ program, a curriculum fostering healthy coping mechanisms. Others attend life skills sessions addressing topics such as self-image, peer pressure, and bullying. I also facilitate a support group, offer one-on-one counseling, and refer cases requiring specialized care to external professionals. Additionally, I lead a group for caregivers to extend our support network within the family unit.

How are you seeing a difference in the lives of the youth you work with?

For example, a girl grappling with severe depression and self-harm was withdrawing from the world. By getting her specialized therapy and guiding her through our Psychosocial Support sessions, she is slowly but surely making a comeback. Now, she’s active again and a mainstay at the center—her mom has even noticed the incredible change. In another moving moment, a session prompted a breakthrough for a girl who opened up after tears flowed. That day marked a turning point; she shared her struggles, and together, we started to work on a plan for her recovery. Witnessing such breakthroughs is incredibly rewarding.

What is your favorite thing about being a social worker at MYC? How do you see God at work?

MYC’s work with teenagers means a lot to me. I wish something like this were available to me when I was their age. I love working with this group; they are underprivileged and really need support. I click with the youth, and we talk about things that are relevant to them. I can help bring them back to the Biblical perspective and values—especially since the media is bombarding them with warped ideas about the world. And I love that youth can find Christ at the center!

Joy is not only a dedicated social worker at Manara Youth Center but also a mother of two. Please keep her in your prayers as she balances the demands of motherhood with her commitment to serving the youth. Pray that she continues to be a positive role model, inspiring young people through her actions and words.