Category Archives: Society

Can You Live With 11,000LL for 5 days? Three AUB Students Are Taking The Live Below The Line Challenge

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Haifa

30,000 people from all over the world are taking the “Live Below The Line” challenge by spending £1 (2,200LL) a day for 5 days and attempting to raise over £7 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organisations. Out of these 30,000 there are three AUB students that are taking the challenge, Haifa Harb, Sandra Shaban and Hadeel Hmaidi and raising money for Human Care Syria, an organization that delivers quality humanitarian aid and development programmes to affected communities in Syria and neighbouring countries.

Haifa is already at Day4 and has exceeded her goal of £1000 while Hadeel and Sandra are on their last day have also exceeded their £400 set goal. What’s important is that you can still donate and show support to these three brave girls because what they are doing is really amazing and tough. I honestly don’t think I can pull off such a thing while having a full time job (two actually) but if anyone wants to participate, all the information you need is on the [website].

Haifa1

Just to give you an idea of what your meal is like if you can spend only 2200LL per day, Haifa had:
– 1 egg and 1 banana for breakfast.
– 1 cup of noodles and 2 rolls of bread for lunch.
– 1 banana and 1 roll of bread for dinner.

If you wish to donate to any of the three candidates, here’s the [link] for Haifa, the [link] for Hadeel and the [link] for Sandra.

Update: There’s also Farah Hashem taking the challenge. You can help her meet her goal [here].

PS: If you know other Lebanese or students in Lebanon taking the challenge, please let me know so I can add them.

Hadeel Hmaidi

Are You Man Enough Beirut? Let’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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scar Any volunteers to teach me how to walk in heels?

My awesome Uf Concepts friends are bringing the “Walk A mile In Her Shoes” event to Beirut in an attempt to raise awareness on violence against women and raise funds for KAFA by selling heels to men. You heard me right, Lebanese men will be asked to walk or run in heels for 1 mile on April 26 starting 10:00 AM at Waterfront City Dbayeh.

I got my heels yesterday and you can buy yours from Le Mall Dbayyeh and Sin el Fil (April 11,12 & 18,19). I’ve already convinced a couple of friends to join me and anyone is more than welcome to join the BlogBaladi team. We will have some fun and walk for a good cause that concerns us all. Check out the [website] and [Facebook] page.

[YouTube]

If you want more info, call 00961 70 519171 or email info@ufconcepts.me. You can also smoke-signal them at 34.301221,36.117094.

20150407-WAMIHS-Beirut-Insta-FB-Photo-BlogBaladi

Lebanon’s Population To Hit 5.9 Million By End Of 2015

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poor The shopping mall that’s now home to 400 Syrian families – Source

If we examine ESCWA’s study on the population growth in Lebanon, the population size of Lebanon increased from 2.6 million in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2010 and was expected to reach 5 million by end of 2015, however the Syrian crisis has changed all that and Lebanon’s population is expected to hit almost 6 million by the end of this year (Source: UNHCR).

The economic and social impact of the Syrian crisis is reaching new heights every year as the mass influx of refugees into Lebanese territory continues. There are at least 1.5 million Syrians registered with UNHCR as refugees and at least half a million more residing here but not registered. For this purpose, the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) was initiated to “describe how the Government of Lebanon and its partners will work together to reinforce stability through this crisis while also protecting Lebanon’s most vulnerable inhabitants, including de facto refugees”. The funding required for this plan is a bit over $2 billion dollars and is aimed at helping 3.3 million people in need, out of which 1.5 million are Lebanese, 1.5 million Syrian and 300,000 Palestinian. If we look at the numbers they are quite scary as the number of poor has risen by nearly two-thirds since 2011 and Lebanese unemployment has doubled.

Here are some of the projections (December 2015) stated in the report:
– Estimated population currently living in Lebanon: 5.9 million.
– Estimated people in need: 3.3 million (1.5M Lebanese, 1.5M Syrian, 300K Palestinian).
– 1 in 4 is displaced.
– Economic losses due to the Syrian crisis: $7.5 Billion dollars.
– 348,300 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian children are out of school compared to 300,000 enrolled in public schools
– 61% more POOR inside Lebanon since 2011.
– 92% of sewage running untreated into watercourses.
– 1.5 Million Lebanese are below the poverty line.

I think it’s the perfect time to organize an international fundraising conference to help Lebanon, and more importantly appoint an international committee or group to implement the LCRP just to make sure money doesn’t end up in the wrong pockets. Moreover, I think all NGOs should cut down their operational costs to a strict minimum in Lebanon in order to allocate most of their budgets to helping out refugees. You can read the full report [here].

A Reminder That Migrant Domestic Workers Are Mothers Too

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Racism

We celebrated Mother’s day on March 21 but it also happens to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and on this day, MARCH Lebanon invited us to remember the thousands of mothers that came from around the world to work in Lebanon and support their families. There are over 200,000 migrant domestic workers in Lebanon coming from the Philippines, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and working under horrible conditions that sometimes border on modern day slavery. In the past week only, two domestic workers committed suicide yet we barely heard about them or knew why they decided to end their life.

Unfortunately and despite the fact that racism in Lebanon is still widespread, the real problem has always been in the Kafala (Sponsorship) system that hasn’t been abolished yet and allows agencies and households to enslave the domestic workers and mistreat them. KAFA Lebanon once followed the journey of a migrant domestic worker (from Nepal and Bangladesh) from recruitment to working and shed the light on some alarming facts and stats. To list few:

– 69% of domestic workers either borrow money or sell their properties to cover the recruitment and travel fees to Lebanon.
– 96% of domestic workers reported that their passports were confiscated by their employer.
– 64% of the women worked more than 15 hours a day.
– 62% of the workers reported experiencing verbal abuse, 36% reported physical abuse and 8% reported sexual abuse.

We need to end the sponsorship system and give domestic workers the same rights as any foreign worker. It’s about time we stop racism against domestic workers and all foreign workers and refugees in Lebanon. Having said that, we can only hope that this Mother’s day will be the last sad one for Lebanon’s foreign domestic workers but their fight is a long one.

[YouTube]

Lebanese Journalist Joumana Haddad Denied Entrance To Bahrain Because She’s An Atheist

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Joumanal

Joumana Haddad is Lebanese journalist, activist, poet, instructor, author and the head of the cultural pages for An Nahar newspaper, as well as the editor-in-chief of Jasad magazine, a controversial Arabic magazine specialized in the literature and arts of the body. She’s an exceptional woman that speaks seven languages and was recently ranked among the 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2015.

Joumana was supposed to fly to Bahrain on the 6th of April to attend a cultural event, however an online campaign (#البحرين_لا_ترحب_بالملحدين) was started against her visit and as a result, she was denied entrance because she’s an atheist and a threat to society. How is being an atheist a threat to society? Unless Joumana chops heads off and trains terrorists while pretending to write poetry, I think that’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard of.

In all cases, it’s their loss as any country should be proud of having women like Joumana Haddad.

Love and support to you Joumana as always!

Joumana

Meet Five Lebanese Women That Are Doing “Men’s” work

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GR78956 Elsy Abou Zeid — Mechanical technician at Volvo

Greg Demarque from Executive Magazine interviewed five Lebanese women defying gender stereotypes and working in professions heavily dominated by men. Elsy Abou Zeid is a Mechanical Technician at Volvo, Cynthia Bitar is the owner and executive chef at Nazira Catering, Rola Hoteit works as a MEA pilot, Nancy Arbid is an aerospace engineer and Diana Salameh is a winemaker at Domaine Wardy.

Check out the full article [here] and let’s hope that we won’t be needing an International Women’s Day to recognize the importance of women and acknowledge their rights.

FAIL: OTV’s Lousy Take On Homosexuality

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homo

Instead of tackling homosexuality in Lebanon in an objective and scientific matter, OTV decided to promote the show by asking whether homosexuality is a fashion trend or an illness. In order to be fair, I did bother and watch the show and while the doctors and Pierre Bou Saab were mostly spot on and made sense, the host kept asking the wrong questions and making wrong assumptions and over-generalizing.

Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. While people are affected by environmental and social factors, almost everyone agrees that sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice, and even if it did, no one is entitled to judge others based on that or call it an illness. Moreover, I don’t know why she assumed that more Lebanese recently are rejecting this “weird phenomenon” as she calls it. There aren’t any studies or surveys to prove that and if that’s the case, awareness is much needed then. We shouldn’t portray gay people as being different or weird and we should help them in their struggle against ignorance and hatred.

On another note, the host didn’t even know what LGBT stands for and thought it was a cool term gay people use nowadays. She also said biosexual instead of bisexual in the first part (Between Minute 3:20 and 3:35) and the doctor corrected her. I’m glad she didn’t bring any religious people but the show didn’t send out the right message and promoting it the way they did was a bad move.

Here’s the [first part] for those interested in watching.

What If We Let Kids From All Over Lebanon Fix Our Problems?

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kids

Four years ago, the Happiness Heroes helped students from schools all across Lebanon to become socially aware at a younger age and encouraged principals to become more socially responsible and environment-friendly. This year, Picon’s Machrou3 el Jil el Jadeed initiative was launched to empower young Lebanese students, encourage them to serve their community by presenting their creative ideas and showing what they are capable of.

As you all know, our country has no electricity, no proper internet, a bad water-management policy, no proper infrastructure or means of transportation, lousy roads and no urban planning. Since our government is unable to fix any of these things, why don’t we give kids a chance to present their ideas to fix the country and maybe implement some of them?

Of course students wouldn’t know how to come up with project plans and that’s why a workshop was organized where students took part in discussions and listened to motivational speeches, and worked on developing their innovative ideas with the help of professionals. After going through all submissions, five great ideas will be selected for every region and the public will be able to vote for the best idea through Facebook and Picon website. At the end of the voting period, there will be one winning idea, which will be implemented in all five regions in coordination with municipalities and trained professionals.

This initiative reminded me a bit of the movie Pay It Forward where a young boy tries to make the world a better chance and launches a good-will movement all because of an assignment given in class. Who knows? Maybe one of the ideas proposed will be a brilliant one and make an impact on our society.

Check out this fun video done with George Khabbaz and you can read more about this initiative [here].

[YouTube]

From Football Teammates In Lebanon To Sworn Enemies In Syria

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drama
Picture taken from Al Akhaa Ahli Aley Football Team Archive

This picture, which was shared by Hazem al Amin today, pretty much sums up how the Syrian Civil War has spilled over into Lebanon. It shows two Lebanese football players Ahmad Diab and Hussein el Amin celebrating a goal back in 2013 in a game against Ansar club.

Few months after this game, Ahmad Diab committed a terrorist suicide bombing while Hussein went to Syria to fight with Hezbollah. Both were members of the same football team and used to fight together to win every game, yet somehow turned into sworn enemies in a fight that is not even ours.

Here’s a [link] to the original article.

drama

I Want Justice For Yves But I Am Against The Death Penalty

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yves

The judge in charge of Yves Nawfal’s murder has recommended the death penalty for six people and sentences ranging from three to 20 years for the others, before referring the case to the Criminal Court in Baabda. I know it’s still a bit early for the court’s final judgment but Yves’ killers will probably get the death penalty for what they’ve done.

Personally speaking, I’ve always been against capital punishment and I wish they would abolish it in Lebanon and replace it with a sentence for perpetuity. Taking away someone’s life as a punishment should not be a legal option, even if the murderer is a ruthless bastard. Killing Yves’ murderers won’t bring him back to life but instead give them publicity that they don’t deserve. Moreover, applying the death penalty can be arbitrary and politicized and you can’t undo a mistake once you discover a man has been executed for a crime he did not commit. Last week, a wrongly jailed man accused of the rape and murder of mother of four in the US got $6M award after he had spent 21 years in jail. All in all, I am sure there are many arguments against capital punishment, mainly ethical and religious one, but for me, killing should not be a way of punishment and that’s about it. Also, jailing someone for 20-30 years is a tougher punishment in my opinion that taking away his life.

video1 A video spotted on Facebook showing a father beating his children violently – However I don’t understand how death penalty could be an answer to such an act.

Of course some may argue that there’s corruption everywhere in Lebanon, specially in prisons, and the only way to make sure murderers stay in prison or get punished is by executing them, but I am sure there are other means to do so. In all cases, Yves’ murderers deserve to stay in prison for a very long time and I hope they do.