Where do you find some of the richest, most powerful stories in the world? Somewhere ancient, where the drama of human life has played itself out in a 40-year civil war, corrupt leaders laying waste to an economy, and a devastating explosion that destroyed over 300,000 homes amid a global pandemic. This place is 5,000 years old, first mentioned in the Amarna Letters from the New Kingdom of Egypt, dating back to the 15th century BCE. This place is Beirut, Lebanon.
American artists of The National Storytelling Network and Artists Standing Strong Together partnered with Lebanese storytellers Sadika Kebbi and Sara Kasir in this fundraising effort. Now you can learn more about our neighbors from Beirut through their powerful stories of rising from the rubble.
This fundraiser was two-fold:
Phase One: The Fundraising Performance On October 24.
First, the world was invited to hear stories from Lebanese tellers and storytelling students in their own words. Both English and Arabic were spoken, with translations provided by Egyptian storyteller and actress Lamya Tawfik. Ticket sales for this online event supported phase two. Video recordings are broken up into two parts for your convenience. The first part is only storytelling. The second part rounds out the stories and then features a Q&A with the tellers.
Phase Two: The Community Gathering In Beirut
Funds raised in part one will be used for a Community Christmas Gathering for those immediately affected by the blast. Muslims and Christians from all sects celebrate Christmas in Lebanon, and your donations will enable a safe gathering for people to share food, stories, and a bit of happiness. Sadika and Sara have reported that people are hungry to hear and tell their stories. As they heal from yet another tragedy, Beirut residents will gather together (while appropriately social distancing). At this event, storytellers Sara and Sadika will share their stories, host an open mike for the audience members to share their stories, and facilitate further discussion. In addition, there will be a special performance by a choir of orphaned Muslim girls from the South.
Funds raised will be used to pay for the recording of the event, and the creation of a short video documentary. This documentary will continue to spread these stories and raise money for the people of Lebanon in their continual needs.
If we raise enough money for both the gathering and the video documentation of the gathering, we will invest in plastic sheeting and materials to winterize and waterproof the damaged homes for the rainy season. Please give what you can, and invite friends to join us as well. We hope to be able to accomplish all three goals.