Help Out 23 Year Old Nibale Beat Cystic Fibrosis!

Nibale Cystic Fibrosis Lebanon

Nibale is a 23 year old Lebanese girl who has been suffering from cystic fibrosis since she was a child. For those who don’t know, cystic fibrosis is a very challenging disease that manifests through repeated lung infections, insufficiency of the pancreas along with a ton of associated complications (medical link). Patients who have the disease end up literally suffocating to death.

Nibale is fast approaching that point. She is at terminal stages of the illness where medical therapy doesn’t work anymore. What Nibale needs now is a lung transplant, which is an operation that costs more than 300,000 euros. Her family doesn’t have that amount, which is why I think we should all mobilize to help.

We’ve all proven that when we can as an online community and as Lebanese, helping out people to try and beat illnesses when the only hurdle is money is entirely possible. We raised the money for Simon when he was fighting leukemia, a fight that he ultimately did not win but he got a fighting chance because of us anyway. We raised the money for Carina Aoun in her attempt at helping out Palestinian children in a mental health project.

Today, Nibale’s life rests in our hands. We are the only chance she has. Given that it’s Easter time, the sensible thing to do would be to help. That would be an act of goodness that actually counts, far more than going to 7 churches and attending all-nighters prayer sessions or even praying 5 times a day.

To donate, LBC has come up with the following campaign on this  link. There’s no bank account number yet, so I will update this post in due time. However, for those of you who can’t the aforementioned Arabic link, here are the relevant information:

Contact +9619658658 or +9619850850ext : 1130 – 1131 if you can donate. Or email menelaleb@lbci.com with your name, phone number and amount you’d be willing to donate.

 

Alt-J Coming To Lebanon This Summer At The Byblos Festival

Alt-J

Your prayers have been answered, indie music Lebanese fans, for this year’s concerts are no longer just about the music you run away from. Rejoice!

Since you, my dearest readers, deserve a bit of happy news every now and then on here, I am leaking your way some major information that was shared my way. Yes, the Byblos Festival will be more than John Legend and The Script. Yes, you don’t need to keep worrying that it’s just too *mainstream* this year.

British band Alt-J will be coming to Lebanon for a concert this summer! It’s confirmed. The date will be announced soon. So for those who were in a state of panic, you can now relax (and get your money ready) because I’m sure this leak will brighten your day.

For those who don’t know them, Alt-J rose to prominence in 2012 with the album “An Awesome Wave.” Their latest offering, This Is All Yours, released in 2014, managed to top the UK albums chart. Their most famous song worldwide is “Tessellate,” which was covered by Ellie Goulding later on.

The song they rose to prominence with, however, is “Breezeblocks” which has clocked so far over 50 million hits on YouTube:

One thing to be said about all of this is kudos to the Byblos Festival for bringing high-profile talents to Lebanon year after year. Along with Alt-J, they are bringing John Legend who had the past year’s biggest hits in “All Of Me” as well as materializing a concert by “The Script” who were long-rumored to be coming.

In making sure that it is always of international caliber, Byblos Festival has consistently been a highlight of every summer we’ve had in Lebanon. And with all of this to the backdrop of arguably the country’s most touristic city, Jbeil, it becomes something you can’t not be proud of.

My hat goes off to all the effort that goes into making this successful and news-worthy every single year.

Update:

August 18th’s the date.

Alt-J Lebanon August 18

Hiba Tawaji Wins & Advances To The Final Stages Of France’s The Voice

Hiba Tawaji has won her part of the knockout stages (epreuve ultime) in France’s The Voice – the last of the previously taped segments of the show – and has advanced to the finals of the show, the live shows.

Starting next week, Hiba along with 3 other candidates in her team, will perform a song of their choice to the public live after which audiences will get a chance to vote for all candidates, making sure one of them proceeds to the following week in the progress while the coach chooses who of the other candidates remains and one is eliminated.

If the hype is to be believed, Tawaji has a good chance at advancing in the live shows. Her performances are reportedly among the most watched of the show (her audition has over 1 million hits on YouTube and over 600,000 on TF1’s website, well ahead of all auditions of the show).

In the knockout stage, Tawaji performed Christina Aguilera’s signature song “Fighter.” She did well, but was criticized for her song choice as the coaches felt it didn’t suit her quite well. It’s telling, in my opinion, when an artist as good as Hiba Tawaji has trouble with song selection. It goes to show how far our artists are sheltered, maybe even left without artistic freedom, in their careers.

Either way, French audiences were very receptive of the song.

 

This is a video of the performance courtesy of my blog’s Facebook page (click).

It is worth noting that part of Mika’s team for the live shows includes an Israeli, named Sharon Lalom. For the upcoming live shows, Hiba Tawaji will be battling it out with Sharon for people’s votes and Mika’s favor. She may end up finding herself in a picture with her, in the same television frame as her or whatnot. Let us do our best as Lebanese not to fall into the traps of accusing her of treason for participating.

This is our chance to show that, at a simple ultimately useless talent show, we can take the higher road and “resist” by actually winning, showing that the talents of our country are great enough on their own merit and can kick anyone’s ass, Israeli or not.

Good luck to her!

Carina Aoun: The Lebanese Cycling Holland For The Children of Gaza

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It hasn’t been a year yet since Israel brutally attacked the Gaza sector, leaving hundreds of dead and thousands of families torn apart, but our collective memory has already dismissed the whole thing as another “been there, done that” event.

We may have forgotten, but those in Gaza are still trying to put their lives back together after all the destruction. It’s always much, much harder to rebuild following destruction, and that is the brave thing to do after war. However, those little children of Gaza that Arabs care about only through Facebook statuses and rarely in action, cannot rebuild alone.

Wars have devastating effects on people, especially children who are in the tender ages of forming the people that they would become. They end up being scarred for life, along with a constellation of psychiatric issues to add. The estimates are that about “373,000 children in Gaza suffer from emotional and psychological trauma and are in dire need of mental care support and reintegration into society.”

To that effect, a Lebanese named Carina Aoun is taking part of an initiative called Cycling For Gaza, and along with 45 other volunteers from across the world, intends to cycle 300km in 3 days this coming July from Amsterdam to The Hague in order to raise money for ” The Mental Health Project of Gaza.”

The goal is to raise $286,000, of which only $5,400 has been donated so far. Each of those 45 volunteers has their very own donation page with the total amount ending up converging into the required $286,000.

The volunteering is taking place within the framework of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) which is the main organization that takes care of Palestinian children, sending them abroad for medical care or providing medical attention to them locally from visiting surgery teams. They have helped over 10,000 children so far.

Their purpose behind the Mental Health Project of Gaza is to start a pediatric mental health hospital as well as run it for an entire year, including providing care to children, screening them, as well as provide training for personnel (link).

Carina Aoun is trying to raise $3000 only for the project and she’s about halfway there. Help her out, and make a difference in the lives of countless of children who can’t make it otherwise.

This is the link to donate (click).

On Lebanese Racists: The Guy Who Wouldn’t Shake Hands With A Black Person Because He’s Afraid To Get The Color

It started off like any other Sunday on Twitter. The masses decide to go for an afternoon trend to entertain their boredom and everyone seems to jump on it. This Sunday’s top trending topic worldwide was #Confessions. Naturally, people jumped on it to divulge their deepest heart’s secrets to the millions out there ignoring them.

One of those was a fellow Lebanese citizen who goes by the name Think Sultan, ironic as that handle might be, with a sizeable 4.6K Twitter following. At first, his confessions were simple:

And then, because Sultan felt very at ease probably, he decided to drop his magnum opus:

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 1

He “may” sound racist, you guys.

Of course, the tweet didn’t exactly pass under the radar. Anis Tabet of Let’s Talk About Movies was appalled and expressed his disgust at what he read, to which Sultan replied with the following brilliant notion:

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 2

 

He can’t be serious, right?

ThinkSultan Racist tweet - 3Umm, no. He was. With a few exclamation points to boot.

ThinkSultan racist tweet 4

And if you thought that he’d be slammed left and right for this, you thought wrong. Some were on his side, defending him because “when was the last time you shook a maid’s hand?”

ThinkSultan racist Tweet - 6

What he did is clearly his freedom of speech (or speach?) because other people are fakers. Fakers gonna fake fake fake fake?

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 5

 

Clearly it was just all of us being too sensitive.

 

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 7

 

Which means that Sultan gets to put his cool shades on, because what he said doesn’t matter.

 

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 8

 

After all, it might as well just be a phobia?

ThinkSultan Racist tweet- 9

I suppose it would be stating the obvious but Sultan doesn’t have a black-people-and-their-skin-color-being-too-dissolvable-phobia, he is plainly yet another Lebanese racist who thinks he can get away with it just because the country he exists in enables this.

This is not a matter of opinion. This not a matter of freedom of speech. This is not even a matter that is up for analysis: Sultan is yet another Lebanese who thinks black people are beneath him because of their skin color, because he’s probably used to see them being abused at the jobs their life conditions force them to undertake, because he’s just so much better for being white. And that is the only truth here.

I thought long about writing this and whether highlighting such racism serves any purpose. I figured that highlighting it is not only a duty, it’s a must. Showing people like Sultan and those supporting him that their behavior is not okay, that their mentality is an abomination.

This isn’t a matter of “opinion respected but let’s agree to disagree.” This isn’t a debate or an argument. This is plainly disgraceful to every decent Lebanese out there. It is disgraceful to all the strides that human rights have gone through in the past few years. It is shameful that such mentalities can be so proud and public in 2015 and not get any slack for it whatsoever.

This comes at a time when migrant workers in Lebanon are the victims of rampant abuse, horrid marketing campaigns that auction them off like cattle (link), recurrent suicide attempts, next to no basic rights and a labor law that borders on slavery. Add people who probably think they deserve all of that to the list of things that are wrong in this country.

We are born with many things we cannot change: our skin color, our parents, our home country, our identity, our genes, our sexual orientation. It is after we’re born that they teach us to be afraid of those who are different: different color, different religion, different region. Critical thinking is what allows many of us to realize that no, these differences are irrelevant and that, at the end of the day, that person who is different is not just another mass of melanin waiting to be dissolved on us.

In his twitter bio, Sultan states that he is a “catalyst for change” as well as a “critical thinker.” If this is catalyzing a change and thinking critically, then Sultan can keep both his change and his thinking. Non-opinion not respected.

ThinkSultan Racist tweet - 11

Truer words have never been spoken, albeit they’re too ironic coming from a person like him. What’s another explanation he gave? This is the real world not utopia.

ThinkSultan Racist Tweet - 10

Yes, we are all aware this is the real world and not utopia. But this is also 2015 and not 300BC. Get with the times. Think critically. Grow up. Be human.

Lebanese Mothers Who Make Lebanon Proud Today

Like every year, when Mother’s Day turns up, your social media channels get flooded with pictures of your friends with their mothers, Facebook statuses to announce unending love and gratitude (before they go piss off their mother the following day), and endless messaging among siblings to find that perfect gift.

I’ve written many of those posts on this blog before. You can check those here and here in case you feel like it. This year around, however, I figured the best way to increase the relevance of Mother’s Day is to highlight Lebanese mothers who have shaped the country as we know it today.

The list is not extensive nor is it exhaustive.  The following women are from different domains and are on this list for different reasons, but they all share something in common: they’ve proven that motherhood serves to add, not define who women are, especially in a region that tells them the former is all they’ll amount to be.

Joumana Haddad

Joumana Haddad

Around these parts of the world, it is usually believed that a woman getting married and having children signals the beginning of the end of her productivity as a person. That’s what social norms say, but not if you follow the Gospel according to Joumana Haddad. One of Lebanon’s leading women when it comes to public opinion, she never shied away from controversy. She defends the sexual liberation of women, their right to do whatever they want, sleep with whoever they want whenever they want. She defends the role of women in societies. She abhors the effect that religious establishments have on women rights in our societies. She was very recently considered by Bahrain to be worse than terrorists as they banned her entry for being an atheist. And for that, she can’t not be on the list.

Lena Gebrane

Lena Gebrane

She may not be a household name, but the NGO that she founded certainly is. Following the death of her son Hady in 2006 at the tender age of 18, Lena Gebrane turned her grief into action and pioneered the way to create one of Lebanon’s most prominent NGOs “Kunhadi,” which has worked tirelessly since its creation to create awareness over road safety in Lebanon, especially among its youth. Her goal is to not let any Lebanese mother feel what she has felt. Sadly enough, many still do. But how many mothers today owe their family’s wholeness to Lena Gebrane’s sleepless nights? She has shown that being a mother extends beyond just having a child.

Dima Sadek


Dima Sadek

Dima Sadek is the kind of women who make it look all too easy. She manages to host LBC’s news, arguably the country’s most watched. She also has her own daytime political talk show where she has never shied away from talking tough stances and getting her guests to listen to a healthy dose of truth, even if it means them storming out. Good riddance. She has also managed to become a fashion role model for many women across the country in the very brief time since she became a household name, all while being a great role model to the young girl she’s raising.

Mona Abou Hamzeh

Mona Abou Hamzeh.

She hosts one of Lebanon’s most watched primetime shows. It is as such not because of its “light” nature, but because of her. She made “Talk of the Town” into what it is today, a viable competitor to the veteran show “Kalam Ennas” at the same time-slot on a different TV station. A woman running a TV show solely on primetime is not a rare thing in these parts of the world, but to have a show as successful as Abou Hamzeh’s is. Her demeanor, charm and presentation skills aren’t the only reasons she’s great. The bravery with which she handled her husband’s falling from grace over the past year as well as the support she provided her family while their entire status changed showed how strong Mona Abou Hamzeh is as a woman and as a mother. She didn’t succumb to the scandal that caught her off guard, like society usually asks of women here, but braced through it and emerged victorious.

Nancy Ajram

Nancy Ajram

She sells out arenas, conjures one chart-topping hit after the next, produces one music video after the next, churns out super-selling albums every other year, and still finds time to support the Lebanese army, women and children across the region through various charities, be the regional ambassador for several brands, judge on Arab Idol and be the Arab artist with the most video views on YouTube, ever. Long gone are the days of Nancy Ajram being synonymous with sultry. Many wondered if Ajram’s motherhood would stop her upward trajectory of fame. She proved them wrong by continuing to be one of the region’s most influential and well-known singers, as well as a full time mom to two gorgeous young girls.

The Mothers of Lebanon’s Kidnapped Soldiers

I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for a mother to lose a son, but to have her son’s life be stuck in the balance of a political game for months now and still manage to get up in the morning to tend to the rest of her family must be a whole other level of achievement. They’re not famous. I don’t even know their names. But I know they’ve been working tirelessly to try and get their children to safety, to get our government to do something, anything, even as news kept becoming more and more dismal. And for that, Mother’s Day cannot pass without saluting those mothers too.

Your Mother, Too

This can’t end without a section about your mother as well. Once a year, the country stands to salute our mothers, which is something it should do every day. By being proud of us in spite of our faults, they push us to be better and strive for better. By raising us the best way they can, they are the catalyst towards a, hopefully, better future for the country and for ourselves. She’s the one who, when there isn’t enough food at the table, would rather you eat while she goes to bed hungry. She’s the one who, when there isn’t enough money, would rather you get new clothes than replace her worn out shoes. She’s the one who, despite being incapacitated beyond belief through one illness or the next, would still get out of bed to prepare you lunch. She’s the one you call “weinik/ak” on your phone, the one who’s always first to comment on your picture with “to2borne/to2brine nchallah,” who gushes with joy whenever she thinks about you and whom you won’t be able to repay.

Yes, this is to your mother, too.

Racism & Slavery: The Perfect Gift For A Lebanese Mother

Mother’s day is coming up and the mass hysteria surrounding the perfect gift to get our mothers is on an upward trajectory all this week. Should I get her a new home appliance, or would that send the wrong message? Should I just get flowers, or would that be too tacky?

Well, it seems that the answer is easier than you think. Why don’t you just get a bunch of “help” to your mother, discounts guaranteed?

Posted on Kafa’s Facebook page today is the following screenshot of a text message that a woman named Rola Koubaissy received:

Isn’t that such a good deal? They have special offers on Kenyans and Ethiopians. How is that not even a bargain?

Lebanon isn’t a country where sensibilities towards those of a different skin color are respected. Racism is widely present, sometimes unintentional and sometimes fully intended. All of the country’s migrant workers, especially the darker their skin goes, are victims of racism, horrifying lack of basic human rights and dismal salaries that many even find are “high” to pay for such “creatures.” But we’re paying them too much, a Lebanese woman would say about her maid’s $200 salary, as she clutches the bag she just purchased somewhere for about 10 times that amount.

You see these people who risk everything to come to this country of ours and get called dumb, stupid even when they learn our language and our ways from scratch. You see them being told off in public. You see them being placed on separate tables in restaurants or kept standing holding a purse while the family eats. Their passports are hijacked, they are imprisoned in our homes but few are those who find anything wrong with that.

And because all of that wasn’t enough, there are companies now that are publicly discounting them based on their passport. What’s sadder is that the people that sent the above text have no idea how unacceptably racist, horrifying and utterly disgusting their action is.

Housekeeping is not a profession to be ridiculed. Offering discounts on people just because they come from a certain country is not only nauseating, it’s a symptom of a greater problem in a country that sees people who are different as nothing more than commodities who can be exchanged for money, who divides them based on racial categories, the darker you are the cheaper you get maybe?

I tried to call the number in question but there was no answer. I contacted Roula Kobaissy and she said she had absolutely no dealing with that office before. She was unaware others in her area have received such a message as well.

Welcome to the country where modern-age slavery is advertised by text messages.

Update:

They apologized, which goes well with my point that they didn’t even know it was racist to begin with.

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 Update 2:

The Ministry of Labor is closing down the bureau according to LBC (Link).