Beirut holds a special place in my heart. I’ve spent most of my life traveling all over the world, but none of the places hold a candle to this city. It’s beautiful and I don’t just mean that in the conventional sense. It’s beautiful in a way that’s born out of chaos, struggle and passion from its inhabitants. Despite being surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, there were remnants of war everywhere I looked. Yet, I found everything about it absolutely stunning: the vibe, the food, the people. After all, where there’s darkness, there’s light—it’s the yin and yang of life.
The first time I visited Lebanon was in the mid 2000’s, sometime after the Israel–Hezbollah War. My flight landed late on a Friday night and as you can guess, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, in terms of safety, culture, language…all of it. Ironically enough, that trip made me question my own culture. Although I was traveling solo, I felt so welcomed by everyone there. Everywhere I went, people were warm, friendly and the city is gorgeous with its position along the Mediterranean Sea. Their zest for life was frankly, contagious the people are beautiful and the food is amazing. Despite the turmoil the people of Beirut have faced, they continued to hold on to the hope that they’ll live in peace and harmony someday, putting all their differences aside and leaving the past behind them. My experience in Beirut made me reflect on my own life in Canada, where we take peace and protection for granted.
I tell you this for a couple of reasons. First, you probably already know about the recent explosion in the city of Beirut, injuring over 6,500 people, killing at least 190, and leaving a staggering 300,000 people homeless. This country has been steeped in war, conflicts and has seen more than its fair share of tragedy.
Second, a friend of mine, Dareen Haidar, is more than passionate about this cause. Dareen has organized a fundraiser for the people of Beirut to do what ever she can to help out. At just 20 years old, still in university studying to be a lawyer, she’s doing something to help her home country, despite being very far from it. This got me thinking. Despite being considered the “unluckiest generation in US history,” having seen multiple recessions, people like Dareen are so determined to create social change, advocating for causes they believe in such as climate change, civil rights, healthcare for all, equality and equity and more.
In fact, in a recent initiative study, 59% of younger adults answered that companies & brands have the potential to be a force for good and should actively participate to improve causes. If our youth, with the minimal resources that they have, have the clarity to fight for a world they want to live in and leaving it better than how they found it, then we need to doing a lot more. As corporate citizens, we have the power to create change and we should be doing all that we can to make a better world, for all, especially the future generations. We can all learn to be a bit more like Dareen and others like her.
I want to do my part, however small, to show my support for Beirut and Dareen. This is just the beginning—we intend to do more to give back to the world in any capacity we can, moving forward. I hope you will join me by donating to help the people of Beirut rebuild their city (and just as important, encouraging others you know to do the same).
If you’d like to donate, follow this link to Dareen’s GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/2mg8a-beirut-explosion). Anything will help even if it is $5, $10. $20.
If you are in the Toronto Area, then Dareen is holding a BootCamp this Saturday to help the cause. Details are below and a donation of $15 is suggested to attend.
What: Dareen’s hosting a bootcamp workout to raise money for the people affected by the recent explosion in Beirut. Even if you can’t make it out to show your support, please take the time to donate to the people in need. Every little bit helps. All the proceeds will be donated to the Lebanese Red Cross in full.
When: Saturday, September 12th from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Where: 5098 Perennial Dr, Mississauga, ON L5M 7T6 (Greater Toronto Area)
While this may not be much in the grand scheme of things, it is a start. It’s the first step in the right direction and we can all learn to be more compassionate and appreciate the life we’ve been given.