Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hanane Kai

Any alternatives for rings in wedding?

A line, not a ring, on my fourth finger

Ink on skin, oh what a beautiful invention! And how did I not discover it before?
Here, meet my first –and certainly not my last– tattoo, with so much intention in it…

A representation of my values around romantic relationships, a rebellion against the dated understanding of marriage, against the “captivity” mindset that marriage puts couples in.

A line, not a ring, on my fourth finger, means that I am with my partner because I’m choosing to be with them, everyday, and no piece of paper, costly ceremony, or social construct will choose that for me/for us.
With that mindset, and that conscious choice, the relationship becomes a place for personal growth and healing.

It’s my base-camp, my safe space, from where I can wander off, experiment, and discover, and if I stumble, and I do stumble a lot, I know I can always go back to that safe place and heal.

This first permanent line on my skin is also in the name of making mistakes… see, I played my adolescence quite safely, I didn’t make a lot of mistakes that teenagers make, the type of actions that you regret as an adult. It’s because I didn’t dare experiment or do things differently. I cared (still do) so much about what people think.

When asked, old people say that they regret the things they didn’t do a lot more than the things they actually did.
Even though I might love this minimalist line now, I will probably grow to dislike it, but I will be proud that I chose to do it anyway today.

In the name of experimenting, being authentic and true to myself, in the name of not caring what people think, and to making mistakes. In the name of strong relationships that we chose to be in everyday, relationships that enrich our lives and help us become better people.

To William, my partner in life, my best friend, and my family.
I would have never imagined that after 14 years I’d still be so passionately in love.
Our relationship has been a gift.

Hard at times for sure, and we still have a long way to go.

We’re gonna face a lot more roadblocks, and I have pure excitement for that, and for the improved selves we will become.

Image may contain: one or more people and closeup

And then Thirty and Forty-somethings got politically aware of Lebanon endemic highway robberies

And utterly infuriated with the lavish events (marriage of the militia/mafia politicians‘ family members) that broke all record in wealth dilapidation.

And many were even civil servants and ministers who were totally broke before they were appointed a year before.

This anomie political structure where every deputy for the last 30 years got his hand on a monopoly on every consumer goods, energy, financial transactions, services in communication facilities, privileges of all kinds in tax-free imports…

Hanane Kai posted on Fb. November 5 at 10:22 PM

I grew up not having any political opinion, not even having any political literacy.

Talking about politics was almost a taboo in my family, and the level of corruption in the political class disgusted me that I wasn’t even curious to learn anything about politics, forget about asking for my right.

I guess that worked quite well for the politicians… a lot of us are alienated, uninterested and disconnected –that is if we’re still in the country– and a big chunk of those remaining can be bought with a couple of hundred bucks and brainwashed in seconds.


Today, at week 3 of the revolution, I have learned about Lebanese politics more than I learned my whole life!

I have felt love for the country that I never felt!

I identified with Lebanon for the first time in my life. I have seen a level of awareness, creativity, togetherness, pro-activity, and wit that I never imagined seeing in this country.

Politicians’ games haven’t changed.

Fear-mongering, threats, accusations, stalling, stalling, and some more stalling. Nothing news… BUT we have changed, and there’s no going back! 

We are coming together in beautiful ways. It’s so threatening to them, and they are trying so hard to divide us…

They are masterminds in turning us against each other, after all, they are the same warlords that lead the civil war, so let’s not forget that.

Let’s not forget the beauty of our together, let’s not fall into their accusations.

Let’s not forget that we share the same pain.

Let’s remember how many chances we gave them, and how many times they disappointed us, and let’s not forget what we are capable of doing without them, without their support, nor their money. 

Let’s stay together! Let’s hang on a little bit more, please!

(Video taken in Martyr Square, Sunday, November 3).

Note: a few comments on that piece

  • Christine Safi Well said ! I agree with the first paragraph, growing up uninterested in politics… and hurt so many times by this country, I’ve learned to move on or I’m learning to… for some reason, i don’t feel concerned with whatever is happening… I’m choking every time i had to mention where I’m from And what’s happening … sad but true…
  • Adonis Bouhatab Wonderful. It is great that this awareness is late than never. Though i did try hard to initiate you and William to mind politics, otherwise the politicians will decide for you. As this fresh new participation is flocking to the mass upheaval, I can see changes bright at the end of the tunnel.
So many essential reforms to be done in Lebanon. Where to start?
Hanane Kai posted on FB Yesterday at 7:32pm · 

I can’t wait for the new generation of artists, performers, directors to start producing work that tackle our current problems and challenges in this country.

I understand that civil war is something one cannot just forget (after 33 years), it’s traumatic, it’s loosing your loved ones, and having to kill to save them. It’s living in fear, and it’s being alive today by pure chance.

That said, we’re facing different problems and challenges today. Here’s a list of what I feel we should talk about, instead of war:

The garbage crisis to start with. (Never solved or resolved and becoming a calamity)

The fact that the whole country is becoming a city. Antelias was actually a village not long ago. My village, which is pretty far from Beirut, is now a city (and I still call it my village

How much kids are spoiled these days. How little time parents spend with their children, thanks to the underpaid domestic migrant workers.

Domestic migrant workers, oh… that’s a whole world of problems and challenges. (Suicide, assassinating family members, fleeing to bordellos…)

Political corruption. Homophobia. Patriarchy, where in our most progressive societies, women are still expected to prepare dinner to their husbands although they both have day jobs.

Christians and Muslims still referring to each other as us and them.

Syrian being still looked down upon: we have banners in some villages announcing the illegality of migrant workers to walk on the streets after 7pm.

Public transport. Sexual harassment in public transport.

Unprofessional behaviors. Mediocrity (this one should be on top of the list for me). And mendicant little kids

Homelessness, something we almost didn’t see in Beirut a couple of years back.

Overpopulation. Traffic. Pollution. The lack of urban planing.

The stigma of divorce. The stigma of mental sickness. Backwardness.

The normalization of plastic looking women. The pathetic standard of local series…

There you go. My list of subjects, other than war, that I would like to see addressed in a play, dance performance, movie, exhibition, book.

And that’s not even an exhaustive list.

Other people commented

Lebanese women not being able to travel alone with their children without the father’s permission.

Lebanese women not able to pass on their nationality to their children.

Lebanese women not getting custody for their children after divorce.

Personal status laws for different sects instead of one civil law that gives us all the same rights.

You forgot the new set of taxes that still adopt Stamps (Mireh), high level of indirect taxes, our currency linked to the $ and hampering our economy, the sustained increase of our sovereign debt in order to make banks richer at our expense by transacting T-Bills, tradition of finding someone in the village to pay allegiance to and be servile in our behaviors…
The financial banks in Lebanon want the 2 million Syrian refugees to stay for as long as it is possible: the foreign financial aids keep the currency “stable”.
This linkage to the $ is costing us an arm and a leg and hampering our economy.
Note: All our militia leaders during the civil war are in power and in charge of our “destiny”, and they claim there were no Victors.

An explorer blog: Header illustration

Hanane Kai posted
Some project are challenging, others feels like second nature to me. This one was both, and a delight!

Rafah was a client, then a friend, who like me and many others is searching for herself and trying to make sense from the things happening around her.

An “explorer”.
I had the pleasure to co-design and to illustrate the header of her blog.
Blog co-designed and developed by William.

Header illustration and blog design for an explorer’s personal blog

Rafah is a young Saudi woman who, like me and many others, is searching for herself and trying to make sense from the things that happen around her. I was commissioned by her to design and create a visual of her blog.

Rafah is an explorer, not in the physical sense, rather in the spiritual sense. Her blog is about her discoveries and realizations, as she explores life.

The quote over the illustration says: “The first step to find yourself is to allow yourself to get lost”.

The blog is co-designed, and developed by William Choukeir.

Click here to read more about/from Rafah

Searching for the self illustration
Explorer blog design and illustration
Explorer illustration

Launching Maku on Kickstarter:  Cool sandals?

Characteristics:

  1. Perfect fit: The 3 straps are individually adjustable thanks to the proprietary Maku RedLink™ fastening system
  2. Respect toe natural spacing: Custom-built straps compress between your toes without separating them
  3. Cotton feel: Gentle on the skin for all-day comfort
  4. Shock absorbent: Without introducing bulk or compromising on ground-feel
  5. Hug your heel: The deep heel-guard protects your heels and keeps them clean
  6. Four ways flexible: Respects the natural movement of the foot, decreasing foot fatigue for all-day comfort
  7. Puncture resistant sole
  8. Griping sole: Less trip-ups and more stability with a grip that’s perfectly balanced for city streets, wet surfaces, and light trails
Back in 2009, I thought that going barefoot would solve my knee pain. It didn’t, but something unexpected happened. Back then, I had made myself sandals to run in but ended up wearing them more than all my other shoes.
I wore them almost everyday until they broke.
That’s when I decided to buy something similar. This was very frustrating because what I found either felt like cardboard or was bulky or unrefined. So I made my 2nd pair, improving the design and durability. This same story repeats 37 times!
At some point I had made a pair of sandals for my partner Hanane, and we’d wear them almost everywhere. People were regularly coming up to us on the street asking us where we got them from. It was obvious that there was something special about these sandals.
We began accepting orders, and had people buying them across 4 continents. That started a long process of “get real-world feedback, improve, repeat.”
With every upgrade, we wanted the best materials so the sandals would be even more comfortable and durable.
5 years and 37 tries later, we finally had it right. So right in fact, that as soon as we sold 50 pairs, a hundred more lined up.
With each pair taking us 4 hours to make by hand, we knew we had to find a better way to bring Makus to the world.
And that’s why we’re here today, reaching out to you.
Launching a Kickstarter campaign will help us deliver the unmatched quality, comfort, and design of Maku sandals to you and to the world.
We love our Makus, and we hope that you want your own Makus as well. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us! William Choukeir

After years of pouring our hearts into designing and creating these cool sandals, we’re really excited to only be days away from launching Maku on Kickstarter.

We never intended to make a business out of them, but people have been loving them so much that we couldn’t resist (anymore). With your support, what was once limited to a very narrow circle can finally be something that people around the world can enjoy. We’ll be sure to let you know when we’re live on Kickstarter.

We’d love your help in spreading the word! Please Share this post and Like it!
The Maku team (William Choukeir, Hanane Kai, David el Achkar)
(David, Hanane, William)

See More

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THESE SANDALS?
That’s a question we get asked often. It’s not just all the little things that make them what they are. It’s that those who try them often end up wearing them more than anything else. For us, this says a lot!– Hanane & Will
Maku's photo.
'PERFECT FIT The 3 straps are individually adjustable thanks to the proprietary Maku RedLink™ fastening system'
Maku's photo.
Nadim Sioufi. Interior Designer, Canada, was the first one to wear Maku

I have very sensitive feet and was concerned about irritation before getting my Makus. But when I started wearing them, I was extremely pleased and realized how comfortable they are.

I run, dance, sail, and exercise in them, on land, rocks, sand, and salty water. My Makus follow me everywhere.

They ‘ve been through two Wicker Park festivals, several Greek Islands, the Turkish and Italian coastline, the Montreal summer, and more! I like to experiment a lot with fashion, and have enjoyed wearing them with everything from jeans to Japanese Hakama.

Kristyan Sarkis. Award winning type designer, Amsterdam. Second person to wear Maku

Before my first pair of Makus, I had never worn sandals because I didn’t find them comfortable or good looking. And today, I use my Makus for everything: walking, biking, hiking, etc. What’s funny, is that when I used to wear ‘high tech’ shoes, my feet would get tired only after a few hours. With my Makus I can walk all day and my feet still feel fresh.

Romy Assouad. Entrepreneur & Dancer, Beirut. 22nd person to wear Maku

On a trip to Brazil, after a long day of walking, when all my friends were complaining about their feet hurting, my feet still felt fresh and free. I was surprised by how comfortable my Makus were, as opposed to the common feeling of tightness and hotness at the end of a long day.

Note: William is my nephew and living in the same building. And he didn’t make me a Maku to try out since 2009.

 

 

 

Saudis seek virtual freedoms denied in real life

Saudi at computer

When it comes to freedoms, human rights organisations will tell you Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the best track record. (No tracks whatsoever)

And perhaps because compared to elsewhere there is limited personal freedom, defiance across the region has gone digital.

In this part of the BBC’s special series Saudis on social we tell the stories of three anonymous accounts on Twitter which all tell of searching for virtual freedom in Saudi Arabia.

But what impact does this secret life have on those who live this way?

“Hussein” tells of what life is like for a religious minority in the kingdom.

You need to install Flash Player to play this content.

20-year-old “Youssef” tells of the perils of being a transsexual in Saudi Arabia.

You need to install Flash Player to play this content.

“Mazen” lost his eyesight when he was seven. Here he tells how online tools for the blind changed his world and gave him freedom of faith.

You need to install Flash Player to play this content.

To follow and join the conversation about life in Saudi Arabia, search for the hashtag #SaudisOnSocial.

Produced by Mai Noman and Hind Suleiman

Animations by Ashley Choukeir and illustrations by Hanane Kai, voiced up by actors.

Illustrated stories of women refugees from Syria

Pamela Hart posted

Stories and images of Syrian refugees from Concern Worldwide. Amazing illustrations.

Thank you Hanane Kai and Masha Hamilton.

Support Concern’s Syria Response: Donate Now.
In 2014, Concern traveled to northern Lebanon to hear the stories of Syrian women who fled their homes for…
concernusa.org

In 2014, Concern traveled to northern Lebanon to hear the stories of Syrian women who fled their homes for safety. While we conducted lengthy interviews, Lebanese artist Hanane Kai illustrated the harrowing tales of six women refugees currently receiving support from Concern.

According to the latest numbers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 50.5 percent of refugees from Syria are women or girls. Like the men, they fled their homes under extreme pressure, having witnessed or experienced violence. Often,  they were responsible for small children, or even newborns.

The six women whose stories are below were ripped from stable families and full lives. Carrying little beyond their memories, they made unthinkably long and treacherous journeys for refuge that was neither promised nor certain.

Fedaa

Illustration of Feeda by Hanane Kai.

Fedaa is a divorced artist and mother of two girls.

While most refugees arrived in Lebanon with nothing save the clothes on her back, she brought a number of her drawings and diaries, as well as an empty package of Kent cigarettes. The pack had belonged to her brother, Mustafa.

The two were extremely close from childhood on. Together, they chased chickens and played games, and later he later taught her to smoke. He was part of a group that rescued people from buildings bombed by the regime.

He was killed in a mortar attack. She’s never been able to visit his graveside, as it is located in an area that was too dangerous for her to visit. She showed visitors the cigarette pack and said she continues to imagine he will appear one day at her door.

Amina

Illustration by Hanane Kai.

Amina had just given birth by C-section a few days earlier when it was announced from the village mosque that everyone should flee immediately because the village, thought to be a center for “rebels,” would be bombed.

Most of the men had already fled to avoid arrest. Amina watched the women trudging into the hills with their children, but she didn’t know how she could make the trip with disabled Taghrid, a newborn, and four other small ones. She began to hit herself, telling herself to think harder.

Then she realized, she had to save who she could. She had to leave Taghrid behind. She pulled her baby into her chest, told the four others to follow close, and said goodbye to Taghrid. She began to leave. And then she realized she couldn’t. She returned home, carried Taghrid onto the lawn that had once been a place of childhood games, and sank down to cry, sure she and her children would die that night.

Luckily the village was not bombed overnight, and the next morning, her brother arrived to help the family escape.

Farah

Illustration of Farah by Hanane Kai.

Farah’s husband had already fled to Lebanon but she didn’t want to leave Syria; she loved her homeland and didn’t want to be a refugee.

However, after she argued with a soldier who shot one of her cows, soldiers began routinely entering her home, turning over furniture, throwing dishes on the floor and generally harassing her. Finally, her daughter, so frozen by fear, stopped speaking at all, so she decided to make the trip.

She came from a well-to-do background; she set out at 4 a.m. one morning in low heels and a nice dress, her daughter clinging to her back and her son at her side. She didn’t realize she would have to walk all the way. She didn’t get to Lebanon until 25 hours later. She was exhausted, her shoes long gone, her dress in shreds.

Her daughter spoke her first words in a week on the trip; when they saw a soldier, the girl said, “If you are going to shoot my mama, shoot me.”

Alaa

Illustration of Alaa by Hanane Kai.

After her village began to be bombed, Alaa’s husband and the other men decided to dig caves into the mountains and move their families there: forty women and children per cave, spending most of their hours within its confines.

Even the children bit back the impulse to play in the fresh air — especially when they heard planes overhead. Her kids — all the kids, in fact — began talking about nothing save weapons and war. They screamed and threw themselves onto the ground at the mere sound of an airplane.

At first, the men brought their families cracked wheat and water for sustenance, but then the food began to run out. Alaa and her children began to eat grass to survive.

Eventually they sold everything they had and raised the $2,000 needed to pay their way across the border.

Fadwa

Illustration of Fadwa by Hanane Kai.

Fawda, born crippled, lost her leg to gangrene as a schoolgirl. But her parents taught her to never to feel sorry for herself. She never imagined she would marry so she made sure she was well educated and got a good job.

Then she did meet someone at her cousin’s wedding. They talked by Internet for a couple years as good friends, and he proposed. Now she has two children.

She decided she had to have the strength to leave Syria, leaving her beloved parents behind, after her home was shelled; her daughter’s room was hit but the girl was fine. She stressed that being disabled—like being a refugee—is more a state of mind than a physical state.

Asia

Illustration of Asia by Hanane Kai.

Asia and her husband ran a market from home, and Asia was a guiding light in her community on issues of childcare and cooking. One Friday in March, with two feet of snow on the ground, Asia was boiling ten gallons of milk to make yogurt when a loudspeaker warned villagers they would be shelled before two hours had passed.

“We didn’t even lock our front door,” Asia said. “We ran out within 15 minutes. People were like ants, walking in the snow.” That night, the family slept in a mosque about seven miles away —but not far enough to be out of the range of the shelling, which they heard.

After the fourth night in the mosque, she decided to go look once more at their home, though they’d been warned more shelling was likely. It was a difficult visit. Theirs had been a two-story home, spacious and comfortable. Now nearly everything stood destroyed.

The only item she found intact was a wall clock that a relative had given them as a wedding gift years—a lifetime—earlier. She tucked it under her arm, never looking back. Now it hangs in her refugee shelter.

*Names have been changed for the safety of those interviewed. 

 

 

 

Drawing on the Memories of Syrian Women

Concern Worldwide and illustrator Hanane Kai gather the recollections of Syrian women refugees in Lebanon — and illuminate the lives they left behind.

 

Fleeing their homes, many Syrians left behind middle-class lives; most arrived with none of the mementos that stir memory.

Fedaa was different. She brought things. Diaries. Drawings. A pillowcase that she’d used since childhood. An empty pack of her brother Mustafa’s Kent cigarettes.

How best to explain what Syrians have faced over the last four years?

Numbers tell part of it: More than 191,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, a third of them civilians, according to the United Nations’ human rights office.

An estimated 9 million (a bit less than 50% of the population) have fled their homes (4 million to neighboring countries, and 5 million within Syria).

Photographs offer frozen moments that hint at a larger story, such as those showing the wrapped bodies of Syrians killed in the Damascus suburbs in August 2013 by the nerve gas sarin.

But researchers say recall and storytelling work on the brain in unique ways.

As one person recounts a memory to another, functional magnetic resonance imaging scans show the same parts of the brain light up in both the storyteller and the listener—parts, scientists say, that would be activated if both were experiencing the events in present time.

Over recent days in northern Lebanon, I worked with Concern Worldwide’s Taline Khansa and a Lebanese illustrator, Hanane Kai, to capture the lives of Syrian female refugees being supported through Concern’s work.

We hoped to move beyond “el azmeh,”—”the crisis,” as they refer to the fighting that sent them from their homelands—to a more complete understanding of their memories.

Fedaa was born into a comfortable home in Homs, Syria, but her first recollections were of trouble. Before her birth, her then-five-year-old brother was killed by a mentally unstable uncle, and she remembers seeing her mother, years later, hysterically pull his bloodstained clothes from drawers.

Her mother, pregnant at the time of the killing, was hit in the shoulder by a bullet from the same gun that killed her son. The baby was stillborn. Fedaa was born next, and two years later, Mustafa.

There were 9 children in all then, and she and Mustafa were especially close. They played together, made spears from sticks and sharp rocks, chased chickens together.

Later, he taught her how to smoke, and still later, they whispered of politics, and fears and hopes for their futures.

Fedaa was an artist from the start, winning first place in a competition when she was six years old.  She stayed in school until 9th grade, when her father pulled her out. She was engaged a year later to a man 11 years her senior, chosen by her father. She felt conflicted, but did as she was told.

It was a simple wedding because the groom was not well off. He was very conservative; he insisted she keep her face covered all the time. She got pregnant quickly, spent two days in labor and then gave birth to Nabigha. “My daughter was my doll,” she said. Fedaa’s second daughter was born two years later.

 

By then, though she couldn’t imagine living with the shame of divorce, she’d begun to pray that God would create a way for her and her husband to separate.

Eventually, she began leaving her husband for short periods to return to her parent’s home. Finally came the day she told her parents she was too unhappy to return. In response, her husband prevented her from seeing her daughters for extended periods.

Then began “el azmeh.” Her brothers formed a group to rescue people after a rocket attack. “Mustafa and I were still very close—I think I was closer to him than his own wife,” Fedaa said. “Sometimes he would return home with blood on his shirt from trying to save friends. At first I avoided the demonstrations. But I changed. I started to become political.”

Then came the day Mustafa, along with two others, was killed by a mortar shell. Speaking of it now, Fedaa’s words slowed and her eyes went unseeing. Mustafa, she said, was buried near a checkpoint in a gravesite she’s never seen.

To this day, she imagines him appearing at her door. “I see him often in my dreams,” she said. “He’s always wearing the clothes he wore when I saw him last. At first after he was killed, I told myself he’d made a sacrifice for freedom. I no longer think like that.”

After Mustafa’s death, time seemed to speed up. Only two months later, her youngest brother, Mohammed Muktar, disappeared. Two months after that, her oldest brother Omar was killed. Six weeks later, 16 young men from their area—nine Muslims and seven Christians—were killed for no reason that anyone could decipher, and Fedaa’s father decided to take what remained of the family to Lebanon.

Fedaa packed up some of her diaries and paintings, the key to her bedroom, the pillowcase she’d slept on as a child, and a now-empty pack of Kent cigarettes that had belonged to Mustafa.  After all, he had taught her to smoke.

She and her family arrived in Lebanon on Oct. 17, 2012, at 1:34 p.m.—she marked it in her diary. Quickly, Syria became “a faraway dream.” Today, she and her family are among the 13,500 Syrian refugee families living in Concern-supported housing in northern Lebanon. Some 1.1 million Syrian refugees are currently living in Lebanon, making up one-quarter of the resident population.

Concern works in Lebanon with Syrian women and their families to provide shelter, safe water, education for children and protection services for all, but also to support their voices. “Concern will continue to amplify the voices of these women,” says Concern Country Director Elke Leidel, “to make their stories heard, and to prevent the Syrian crisis from being forgotten.”

Masha Hamilton is Vice President of Communications at Concern Worldwide, a global humanitarian organization committed to eliminating extreme poverty and improving the lives of the world’s poorest.

She is a novelist and former journalist who has reported from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Russia.

She founded two non-profits, the Camel Book Drive and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, and worked in 2012 and 2013 as Director of Communications at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She can be found on Twitter at @MashaHamilton

Hanane Kai was tagged in Concern Worldwide US‘s photos.
12 hrs ·

Lebanese illustrator and artist Hanane Kai visited Concern NYC for an evening of conversation and storytelling. After light bites and refreshments provided by The Cafe Grind,

Hanane sat down with VP of Communications Masha Hamilton to share the very real Syrian Refugee stories that have inspired her work.

Concern Worldwide US's photo.
Concern Worldwide US's photo.
Concern Worldwide US's photo.
Concern Worldwide US's photo.

Stories of 13 million refugees from the four corners of the world: 3 million from just Syria

And what Hanan reported

Half of Syria population of over 20 million has been displaced in the last 4 years of internal/external wars on its territory.

3 million took “refuge” in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. 8 million are internal refugees and cannot return to their hometowns.

And the US is still deliberating on “how appropriate it is” to coordinate attacks on Da3esh with the elected Syrian government.

We have refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Yemen…

And Lebanon is barely receiving crumbs from the world community to aid the refugees.

And the children of refugees (far more numerous than Lebanese children) who need to join our rickety and badly funded school system.

And refugee mothers giving birth in far greater numbers than Lebanese mothers… in our rare public hospitals, which are barely funded

Half the population in Lebanon are refugees of some kinds

And the other half took refuge in other countries, just to enjoy basic human rights and facilities.

Hanane Kai posted a few weeks ago on FB:

I spent the day yesterday in Halba (town in north Lebanon in the Akkar district) listening to the stories of women Syrian refugees for my illustration book.
For me stories like this existed only in the movies and on TV.

To hear a woman talking, for one hour, about her 10-hour barefoot walk from Syria to Lebanon, carrying on her shoulders her 6 year old daughter and next to her, her 9 year old boy, and all the things that happened on the way…

To hear another woman say that at some point she even thought about leaving behind her disabled child so she could save her other 4 children, but she couldn’t.

(It actually happened for the Yazidi minorities on mount Sinjar in north Iraq, fleeing ISIS Islamic extremists)

To hear a woman tell us about the prefect relationship with her sweet brother, and how she heard about his death on the news, with the word terrorist attached to his name.

To see a woman cry to the thought of the situation she’s living in now, compared with all the lands and houses and pride she had in Syria.

To hear about how all these women had to leave their lives behind to save their lives, is just overwhelming!

These women are strong!

They are strong even to have shared what they have shared with us.
What hurts even more is that one of the hardest thing they are facing now is the way Lebanese look at them, the way Lebanese look at Syrians.

Their wishes? To go back to their homes, farms, lands and businesses in Syria, even if they are demolished.
After all, women say الحمد لله ‘thank god’ we have a place to live now, and we are able to eat.

After this day, I go back home, and I’m thanking god I have a home.

I open the door and William smiles at me, and I thank god I have a partner, I have a family, I have friends.

I thank god for everything my parents had gone through to provide me with food, care, support, and what they believe is the best education.

Lebanon is the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide.

I understand that this is hard on us Lebanese, though it’s way harder on the refugees.

The least we can do is respect these people, put ourselves in their shoes for at least one single moment.

PS: yesterday I was part of a team working on a project to make the voices of Syrian refugees heard.

It’s a beautiful project with the American journalist Masha Hamilton, through Concern Worldwide, an NGO that works with the world poorest people to transform their lives. More details about the project very soon.

How you become a Peace Activist in Lebanon

Aisha Habli posted this January 18, 2014

Why I Became a Peace Activist

Beirut – 9:40 AM, I wake to my phone ringing and mistake it for an alarm. My sister anxiously asks me where I am, and I guiltily reply that I’ve slept in. “I’m just calling to ask you if you heard the explosion,” she says.
As I’m talking to her, I hear a helicopter fly close by, followed by sirens from speeding vehicles. I had an errand this morning in Downtown Beirut, and the site of the explosion was on my walking route. This situation has become eerily familiar.
Aisha Habli and fellow activists organize youth activities to tackle issues of identity and segregation in Lebanon. Photo credit: Joanna Choukeir, July 2012.

Aisha Habli and fellow activists organize youth activities to tackle issues of identity and segregation in Lebanon. Photo credit: Joanna Choukeir, July 2012. (One of the girls looks like Lynn or Lin)

On the last Friday of 2013, an explosion hit Lebanon’s busy capital Beirut, killing 6 civilians, injuring 45 others, and assassinating Mohammad Chatah, former Finance Minister and senior advisor to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The bombing was only a short distance from the site of the car bomb that targeted former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 and marked the beginning of a series of car bombings and assassinations that have been occurring regularly ever since.

All Lebanese political parties have been targets of such terrorist acts. The beginning of 2014 has already seen yet another car bombing in the southern suburb of Dahieh, and a historic library in the northern city of Tripoli was torched damaging thousands of books and manuscripts.

In times like these, I am reminded of why I am a social and peace activist. Things are not well in Lebanon or the region, and until we change our mentalities, things won’t change anytime soon.

Aisha records reflections from youth who participated in social integration activities. Photo credit: ??, July 2012.

Aisha records reflections from youth on social integration. Photo credit: Hanane Kai, July 2012.

I grew up in multicultural communities in Saudi Arabia and moved to Lebanon in 2007 to pursue my higher education. I was fascinated by the Lebanese hospitality and generosity.

To my disappointment I have lately noticed an increasingly polarized community—one where your name, hometown, religion, and political affiliation define you.

Because of these labels, I am sometimes offered special privileges and, at other times, treated with distrust, both equally frustrating.

I have even been turned down for a job that I was qualified for because of my name, Aisha, which was the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite wife, who played a large part in the conflict that later divided Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites.(She got involved in and led the first civil war in the battle of “The Camel” against the troops of Calif  Ali who were ironically Sunnis (followers of the power to be)

In the interviewer’s words, with a name like Aisha, I would “cause a loss in the company’s market and could only work in select regions based on their religious and political associations.”

Refusing to tolerate this as the norm, I wanted to get to know the people of my country in person, rather than rely on the media outlets and adopt the prejudices around me.

I sought out communities where people of various Lebanese backgrounds engaged in dialogue, exchanged ideas, and pursued reform and innovation.

The people I met were hopeful and inspiring. Soon enough, I became a social and peace activist, eager to improve my community through projects that encourage dialogue and break down social barriers.

‘Imaginers’ share their passion for Imagination Studio. Video by Joanna Choukeir.

In 2011, I joined Imagination Studio, a co-creation project that aimed to tackle the leading social integration barriers facing Lebanese youth, including religious sects, political affiliation, poor mobility between regions, and media influence. We organized workshops to analyze these ‘barriers’ and designed activities to bring together youth in public spaces across Lebanon.

Today, the research methodology used for Imagination Studio is being developed as a guideline to support worldwide organizations in using social design to tackle social segregation.

I have also volunteered as an organizer at TEDxBeirut. The success of the TEDx communities in Lebanon comes from the networking opportunities they provide to individuals of various backgrounds. The events cultivate dialogue on a variety of issues including education, healthcare, technology, design, entertainment, and entrepreneurship.

Walkabout Drum Circle entertaining the crowd with interactive drumming from West African origins at the TEDxBeirut event. Photo credit: ??, May 2012.

Walkabout Drum Circle entertains the TEDxBeirut crowd with West African, interactive drumming. Photo credit: Nadim Kamel, May 2012.

Once a week, I participate as a mentor for The Nawaya Network. As one of the first mentorship programs for disadvantaged youth in Lebanon and the Arab world, it aims to create a positive and nurturing environment that allows youth to discover their hidden potential.

My other passion is peace activism. I am the local and international outreach coordinator at the Media Association for Peace, an organization based in Lebanon that trains media practitioners in peace journalism techniques and promotes the implementation of peace journalism.

MAP members celebrating the International Day of Peace with MasterPeace, a movement inspiring peace through arts and education, at a monastery in the Lebanese mountains. Photo credit: ??, September 2012.

Media Association for Peace members celebrate the International Day of Peace. Photo credit: Mostapha Raad, September 2012.

The concept behind peace journalism, also known as conflict-sensitive journalism, is to report news from an unbiased standpoint. It gives equal value to both sides of a conflict, creates opportunities for non-violent responses to conflict, and proposes solutions.

study from a professor at Park University suggests that the practice of peace journalism in Ugandan local media mitigated violence during elections in 2011.

Peace journalism is not just a tool for becoming a more responsible journalist but also a tool for better communicating with others. It has made me a better listener, helping me be open to a wider variety of viewpoints and learn the many angles of “the truth” in a story.

Things are rarely ever black and white, and through peace journalism, news reports humanize and give a voice to both sides of a conflict.

This summer, I witnessed violent clashes in my hometown of Sidon in southern Lebanon. Being a part of the story gave me insight into how a news story is put together in the Lebanese media.

The news outlets spotlighted two opposing sides of the conflict: radical Sunni Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir and the Lebanese Army, with civilian reports on Hezbollah’s involvement as a third front.

Being held hostage inside my house, I felt devalued in the media as a civilian. While our hearts and prayers were with our friends and family closest to the clashes, the media was focused on polarizing the situation and creating a thrilling evening news report.

Aisha and fellow social change agents share ideas. Photo credit: ??, February 2012.

Aisha and fellow social activists exchange ideas. Photo credit: Hanane Kai, February 2012.

Rarely does one find peace efforts that have long-lasting effects, but peace journalism has promise, as it focuses on violence prevention.

It can help media outlets report news in a more sensitive and responsible way by providing neutral facts, giving both sides of a conflict an equal voice, humanizing the conflict, being selective about terminology and images associated with the news story, and lastly, proposing solutions.

After a peace-journalism report, the viewer is informed with facts, able to deduce his or her own opinion, and willing to feel compassion for both sides of a conflict rather than aggression towards or fear of one side. “Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion,” as the Dalai Lama XIV said.

I am one of many activists in Lebanon calling for an alternative to the current situation, in which we are more involved in decision making and the country’s security status. Lebanese civilians are tired of being victims of sectarian and political tension and are becoming proactive.

TEDxBeirut participants holding signs to express "All we need is..." Photo credit: ??, November 2012.

TEDxBeirut participants share their views and personalize the event’s theme: “All we need is…” Photo credit: Nadim Kamel, November 2012.

Aisha_HabliAisha Habli studies biomedical engineering and works as a public relations and media specialist. She is a social and peace activist and a member of the Media Association for Peace and MasterPeace Lebanon.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2020
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