Abdul Halim Attar is a Palestinian-Syrian who fled to Lebanon three years ago with his two children and has been selling pens in the streets of Beirut to make ends meet. Attar was photographed by an Icelandic journalist and activist called Gissur Simonarson who shared on Twitter two pictures of the Syrian refugee selling pens while holding his sleeping daughter. After receiving tons of requests to help the man, Gissi was able to locate the man and start a fundraising campaign with the help of CaptainMaj, Jessy El Murr from Sky News Arabia annd Carol Malouf who runs an aid organization Lebanese4Refugees.
The campaign went viral and the 35-year-old single father of two from Syria received almost $175,000 in donations in only 6 days. The original goal set for the crowdfunding campaign was only $5000 so this is quite amazing especially that there are still 9 days left. Attar used to earn $35 on a good day but now his life has changed dramatically.
When asked what he wants to do with the money, Abdul said:
“I want to use the money to help Syrians. I don’t want to be the only one being helped; there are thousands of children on the streets. There are people who are worse off than I am,” he said passionately. “Syria is my country; these are my people. In Syria, we used to welcome everyone and help them.
“I am lucky because at least I have a roof over my head and somewhere to sleep,” he added. “There are many who are barely living. I hope this campaign grows to help all Syrians. I hope other Syrians get a campaign the way I got a campaign, and people can see the conditions they are in.”
Until Attar gets his money, Carol Malouf has been helping him get food, paid for his rent this month and has been working on getting his paperwork in order to establish him in Lebanon.
All in all, if this story proves anything, it’s that people are more than willing to help when they are given the opportunity and that small initiatives like this one can help change someone’s life positively.
If you are still wondering where all this garbage is going nowadays, go to the Beirut River and see what’s happening there. It took us years to get rid of the Karantina garbage mountain (technically it’s still there) yet we managed to build a new one within 3 weeks. The smell is already unbearable there and is becoming even worse as trash is piling up everyday. I wonder if the Beirut River Crocodile has decided to move out or not yet.
For those of you who still don’t know how our politicians got us into this mess, check out this great piece by [Matt Nash].
Every year on the 30th of August, which happens to be the U.N.’s International Day of the Disappeared, we remember the 17,000+ Lebanese who disappeared during the war in Lebanon and its aftermath. The families of the disappeared have been protesting for years in Beirut yet the government has done nothing to clarify the fate of their loved ones.
The committee of families, with the support of Human Rights Watch, has drafted “a bill to create a national commission to investigate those cases, but no government action has been taken”, and I don’t expect them to do anything anytime soon even though enforced disappearances are described by HRW “among the gravest crimes in international law and may constitute a crime against humanity if part of a bigger attack against the civilian population.”
There’s also an ACT for the disappeared in Lebanon and several initiatives to help out the families but nothing can be really done without the government’s help and Syria’s ongoing war is not helping.
There’s one initiative that is feasible and consists of building The Memorial, an urban act to draw attention to the 17,000+ missing and disappeared in Lebanon and keep their cause alive. Check it out [here].
PS: Title is a quote by Nadim Houry, HRW’s deputy Middle East director.
My friend was telling me yesterday about a tragic incident in an amusement park in Aley and then I saw the report at night on MTV. A young kid has apparently died after falling off the roller coaster, while his cousin got some serious injuries. According to the amusement park management, the kid was asked to sit down twice which he didn’t do but that’s utter nonsense. The person who was managing that ride should have stopped it immediately if he thought someone is violating basic safety rules and regulations. Something doesn’t add up here and a thorough investigations needs to be performed.
The worst part is that both the municipality and the Ministry of Tourism denied any responsibility and stated that it’s not their job to perform safety inspections. If that’s the case then who is making sure amusement parks are safe in Lebanon?
To be honest, I never really felt safe in any of Lebanon’s amusement parks and I always wondered if there are security checks being performed as safety should be the #1 priority in any amusement park. Of course accidents are bound to happen and injuries may occur when guests don’t follow safety guidelines but there are many ways to ensure guests, especially young children, are kept safe.
There aren’t that many amusement parks in Lebanon and most of them are really old so I hope that this tragic accident will push the authorities to properly inspect them and make sure they are abiding by the rules and regulations (if there are any).
After a “Jon Snow is Alive” poster appeared at the #YouStink protest, the above was posted two days ago on Arya Stark’s Facebook page. Of course it’s a fictional page but it’s quite funny to see pictures of the #YouStink protest there.
Speaking of funny posters and after my post from last week, I got around 5-6 hilarious new posters that I’m sharing here:
Mustapha put together a website that gathers #YouStink news from Twitter, YouTube, Instagram & Lebaneseblogs. It’s an easy way to track all updates related to the #YouStink (#طلعت_ريحتكم) movement and an extra reason for everyone to stick to that hashtag and stop coming up with new ones.
I couldn’t find any cool song for the #YouStink protest but a friend of mine shared this old song from 2013 that applies perfectly to the current situation and is pretty awesome! I hope they are panicking 😀
#YouStink is a peaceful movement and should remain that way. Security forces are mainly to blame for the violence during the first protest while infiltrators turned the second protest into a nightmare. What’s important is that civilized and peaceful demonstrators stay away from these infiltrators and from clashing with the police. Let’s keep in mind that security forces are given orders that they need to follow and most of them want the same demands we do and don’t want to clash with the people. Needless to say, some of them are violating basic human rights and need to punished severely but I believe the best way to counter any violent act by the police or army is by documenting it and exposing it.
Aside from the use of violence during the demonstrations, a lot of protesters were wrongfully arrested and tortured. There are a lot of testimonies online stating how people were jailed for days, interrogated and tortured, and forced to do drug tests. Lebanese authorities and the Interior Minister should take immediate action to ensure there is no repeat of these actions in future protests. Human Rights Watch documented the violence in the early protests. You can read the report [here].
2- Damaged Public Property:
Riad el Solh statue was sabotaged, traffic lights were destroyed, shops and billboards were vandalized and even Hariri’s grave got its share of the riots during the second day of protest. I blame it all on the infiltrators but it is every one’s responsibility tomorrow not to damage public property and to report or stop those who are doing so.
A lot of parties are trying to take advantage of this movement. I’m not sure how the organizers are planning to keep them away from the protest but they should do so in order not to jeopardize its credibility. The fact that so many movements popped up during this week is definitely not comforting and a headache for the #YouReek guys.
4- More movements and hashtags: #مستمرون #طلعت_ريحتكم #بدنا_نحاسب #حلوا_عنا #عالشارع #بدنا_رئيس
I don’t know what happened this past week but every one decided to come up with a new hashtag and call it a movement. A hashtag is a not a movement and there’s already one hashtag that we can help trend. Stop coming up with new hashtags/movements for God’s sake!
All in all, I hope that today’s protest goes smoothly and achieves positive things. Stay safe everyone!
I passed by ABC Achrafieh last week and noticed that they had kicked off a recycling campaign and replaced their old bins with new ones that separate recyclable from non-recyclable items. Moreover, I learned that ABC Lebanon signed a Zero Waste Act, which is an initiative aimed “at minimizing solid waste haphazard disposal and diverting the waste stream away from landfills”. ABC is expected to reduce waste by 80% in all its malls. Needless to say, businesses should have started recycling long time ago in Lebanon but it’s better late than never. I’m glad that ABC took this initiative and started recycling and I hope others malls and businesses will follow-suit and join the cycle.
It is worth noting that the Lebanese population has generated more than 2,040,000 tons of solid waste in 2014 . This is not the first environmentally friendly initiative ABC has taken this year as they turned they installed the largest private photovoltaic plant in Lebanon on ABC’s rooftop two months ago.
We should all join the cycle! We should all recycle!
PS: I proudly took part in their online campaign and I’m willing to take part in any campaign that supports recycling.