July 10, 2017

"More Than A Refugee event was the voice of diverse people in Lebanon"

A smiling boy stops for a photo at the event

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Yara Harake

Theirworld consultant - Lebanon

One of Theirworld's Global Youth Ambassadors decided to challenge stigma against refugees by planning a day of live performances and stalls in Beirut.

Almost a year ago, a young woman named Mona Ali Hassan, a Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador, came up with the idea to host a "More Than a Refugee" event. 

As a Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon, Mona had suffered from all the negative thoughts and stereotypes about refugees here. Challenging stigma against refugees is becoming more important here in Lebanon, given that the hole between refugees and host community remains wide and is becoming bigger every day.

The "More Than a Refugee" event took place on Sunday, July 2, in Beirut’s famous Hamra street and was the voice of refugees here in Lebanon - a space where communities could share their feelings, thoughts, dreams, challenges and, most important, their achievements. 

Children were kept busy with activities and play

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Many people were attracted to the event using flyers but others were attracted by the music

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Stalls were set up at the event showcasing products made by refugees

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Children smile for a photo at the More Than a Refugee event

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Syrian children meet other refugees in Lebanon

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Women attended workshops providing opportunities for economic empowerment to women in difficult financial circumstances

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Audiences enjoyed music and entertainment at the "More Than a Refugee" event

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

The event put a smile on many children’s faces

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

Children played together and took part in workshops

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

A young girl watches the entertainment

Photo credit: Preethi Nallu / Theirworld

The focus of this event was on small initiatives, associations, individuals, artists and activists that were not well highlighted by the media or well known by the community and who were working to provide support, assistance and to develop skills of all those in need from refugees to host community. 

A large number of people attended this event, including those who knew about it from our invites and flyers and those who were attracted on the day by the live performances and the beautiful shape of the exhibition. 

The event was distinguished in terms of cultural diversity, bringing together Kurds, Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese.

We showcased traditional songs from Assaaleek band to Rashid Najjar to Kurdish music and Dabkeh. The stalls were rich with handmade products produced by women from refugee camps.

Most of the speakers were women who have achieved huge things at all levels like Mariam Shaar and Razan Al Hussami. 

We were very impressed by the stories of different women who came from other countries like Iran to volunteer and support refugees like Saba Sadr. 

We respected the confidence of men who tried to unite people together like Ziad Aziz and we appreciated others like Ashraf Hafni who dedicated their life to help children overcome the effects of war.

Different event participants and the many attendees said we had succeeded to put a smile on children’s faces, to bring people together and to create a connection for the first time since 2012 between all who are working with refugees.  

We managed to put all of these contacts in a real-life context and a real platform with direct communication far from meetings and discussions at offices. 

With thanks to PPL for their support to the safe schools initiatives and Global Youth Ambassadors collective in Lebanon.

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