Art for a Change at The Garten Saturday!

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When I saw the boys hanging up an old VW beetle cut in half in the chill-out area at The Garten, I was like, “lolwut?!”. But then I realized it was gonna be a canvas for live graff by a series of awesome Lebanese graffiti artists, it was more like “bring it.”

The finished masterpieces were displayed in the food court area for the summer, and now, it’s time to auction them off for the benefit of Kunhadi! They include:

The artists and their artworks:
“Apollo” by CHAD THE MAD (Chadi Abousleiman)
“Sibelle” by EL CHAKH (Ziad Chakhtoura) & LE MAUVE (Rami Chahine)
“Dare to Dream’ by M3ALIM (Rami Mouallem)
“Love Bite” by EPS (Alfred Badr)
“Isabel” by TAZ (Georges Tabatadze)
“Z is not dead…” by ZED (Eli Zaarour)
“El battikh ykasser baado” by PHAT2
“The Blob vs Godzilla” by FISH (Sari Saadeh)& MATCH STICK (Raul Mallat)

RSVP here, and please, always drive responsibly or order a cab if you’d had too much too drink <3

Embrace: A Suicide Every 3 Days in Lebanon. Help Stop This!

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Mental illness is still a taboo subject in Lebanon. Mentally ill people hide it, and when they can’t, their loved ones hide it for them from the rest of society. It’s still seen as something to be ashamed of, and to some people even as something that’s a deserved “punishment” by god or whatever.

But, its impact is real, and given the striking numbers of psychoactive drug prescriptions in Lebanon: 1 million tranquilizers, 642000 anti-depressants in 2011 [source], coupled with the devastating reality that every 3 days, someone in Lebanon takes their own life, goes to show you that a LOT can and needs to be done.

That’s why I was very happy to find out about the Embrace Fund, a regional and national campaign to raise awareness and provide support for mental illness. It’s in partnership with the AUBMC’s Psychiatry Department, and earlier today, they had their “walk into the dawn” activation towards the Raouche Rock (Pigeon Rock in Beirut), which is infamous as a top choice for people committing suicide by jumping off of it into the Mediterranean Sea.

Here’s their Facebook page, so you can find out how to help. On their website, you can submit your own story about a struggle with mental illness, and read those who wrote their own and wanted it to be published. You can also sign up to become a member, or make a donation, or both! So, head to EmbraceFund.org and sign up!

DSC Lebanon’s New Campaign: SIGN UP AND SAVE LIVES!

I’ve been in DSC since the very early days, and even though I admit I haven’t been as much help as I’d like to be, DSC’s always had a special place in my heart.

Since its humble beginnings with one man’s wish to make people dying because lack of available donor blood a thing of the past in Lebanon, DSC has achieved seemingly the impossible in just a few years.

With an ever-growing database of healthy, willing blood donors in Lebanon that fulfill hundreds of requests for blood donations, and save and improve thousands of lives every single month, DSC has become a household name. Their weekly blood drives with their brand new donation truck, visits different parts of Lebanon and collects enough blood bags to make sure local hospitals have enough supply in case the worst happens.

Their new initiative is to add 10,000 new awesome donors in just 10 months, and if you still haven’t, please sign up here! And if you can’t donate blood (if you’re too young, or for medical reasons), you can still support DSC by being a volunteer! Check out their Facebook page and apps if you don’t like traditional websites.

This is NOT the Official Lebanese Red Cross Instagram Account!

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The Lebanese Red Cross is my absolute favorite NGO. I love them, and the one regret I have in my entire life is not trying to become one of their volunteer life-savers. They save tens of thousands of lives every year, and help hundreds of thousands of others. They do the immense job our government is supposed to in an extremely professional way, on a volunteer basis.

So, I was appalled when I saw this screenshot being shared all over Facebook and Twitter criticizing them. Of course, I couldn’t believe it was actually the official account, and made some calls to my very dear friends, the heroes in the LRC and inquired about this.

This is positively NOT the official account of the LRC. Instagram has been contacted and they’re awaiting the account’s suspension and hopefully transfer into the proper hands.

This post was more appropriate for a cheap Lebanese brand, “zoozoo ibba” style, not the beyond-reproachable Lebanese Red Cross affiliated with the ICRC. It’s sad when people hijack big names and NGOs like that on social media. People should know better.

I believe the LRC will release a statement in the coming few hours on their actual official Facebook page here.

We love you girls and guys in red and white! Be safe, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything you do for us.

EPIC: Electronic Music Using Lebanese Cedar Tree Rhythms

This is pure gold in every sense of the word for me.

It’s absolute geek porn. Bioacoustic Engineering to extract the natural rhythm of an ancient cedar tree? Well, that definitely gave me a biology geek tingle. But, when I heard the result: an electronic music track built around that 3000-year-old frequency, that tingle definitely exploded into a full-on bio-geek-party-animal eargasm.

For the cherry on top, it’s the one thing we identify with as Lebanese: our Cedar tree, that gorgeous, majestic tree that you can sit under for thousands of generations, and no matter how hot the weather was, you’d feel the priceless breeze in the shade of the symbol of our tiny, turbulent nation.

Our cedar trees never change, but Lebanon has transformed more times than we can count. And these changes have made it impossible for our Cedars to survive today, much less procreate for tomorrow. I bought the album, and you should too. I also want to hear the tracks in the summer parties in Beirut, spun by the DJs to a crowd of people like us, who if we ever survive to have children and grandchildren, can never take them for a hike in a cedar forest, but merely show them the stencils of one that cover the streets of our polluted cities, a remnant of an ancient past that predates us, which we managed to obliterate with our negligence and shortsightedness.

Listen, dance, support. I absolutely loved this initiative. Here’s the link to listen and buy (for just 3$)

Pre-Order Maamoul for a Cause This Easter

Date Maamoul

Maamoul is the traditional dessert we all lover serving. It’s especially the case during Easter, when many Christian families serve the delicacy to their guests wishing them a Happy Easter.

This year, Little Helps is making sure every little piece of yumminess helps those in need, regardless of who they are and where they come from. So, don’t buy pre-packaged maamoul from big chains, but buy these ones, made with love and care and help someone in need. Wanna bake some yourself to help? Sure! Just get in touch.

Email or call littlehelpslebanon@gmail.com 03450390 – 03240073

And a Happy Easter to you all!

#NoLawNoVote: Go Down to Parliament This Morning, Please

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All of you have jobs, and school. Maybe you just think you have something better to do. You don’t. Nothing is more important that this.

Far too many women have died, far too many have lived in fear and depression. This is the perfect way to pressure our disgusting MPs into doing the right thing.

Take your lunch break early, and go down to parliament. Please. I beg you. I feel so tormented I am not there myself physically, but I know I can count on all of you.

The law to protect women against domestic violence’s time was decades ago. Let’s not wait a single day more.

RSVP and SHARE!

Nahr El Kalb Alarming Pollution Levels

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Lebanon’s rivers are famous for being toxic waste dumps and cesspools of repulsive odors and disease. Just to give you an idea of how bad, an animal rights advocate who was helping in the attempted capture of the Beirut River crocodile, got some river water splashed into his eyes, and could not see for 10 days…

The heavily polluted rivers were the Beirut River and the aptly named Nahr El Mot (river of death). Nahr El Kalb’s main feature has been being virtually dried up all the time, but somewhat swimmable, or at least not lethally toxic for people with their dogs.

In recent weeks though, the river has been severely polluted by a new brick factory upstream. The water is opaque, and any animal or plant life in the river’s ecosystem is probably long gone by now…

Nahr El Kalb is a river people still actually go and sit next to, in restaurants and wedding venues and even water theme parks on its banks. To see it become this disgusting, industrial sludge is just sad, especially since reports are confirming that the new brick factory is owned by locals, who the municipality is turning a blind eye to.

It’s sad that good relations with the municipality trumps the environmental cost of a careless industrial venture. A venture so close to Nahr El Kalb’s historic bridges, homes and the sometimes painful reminders scattered in the valley left by all the armies that have conquered Lebanon throughout history.

Another Victory for Lebanon’s LGBT Community

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Judge Naji Dahdah has become the second Lebanese judge to interpret Lebanon’s notorious Article 534 in the Lebanese penal code which states “sexual acts against nature” can be punished by up to a year in prison, in the right way.

As a biologist, the fact that homosexuality is natural is a no-brainer. Virtually every animal species exhibits homosexual behavior in individuals of both genders. So, it is not in fact “against nature” and thus, judges that are fair and were born after the First World War will rule accordingly.

The first such victory in court was in Batroun a couple of years back, and Lebanon has the Beirut-based, pan-Arab NGO Legal Agenda to thank for this feat, which comes after a string of victories in the civil rights movement for Lebanon’s LGBT community. First, with the ban of the absurd “anal virginity tests” after a recommendation from the syndicates of both lawyers and medical doctors in Lebanon. Second, with the Batroun not guilty verdict setting a precedent. And third, with the Lebanese Psychiatric Society reiterating that homosexuality is not a disease.

Judge Dahdah dismissed a case filed against a transgender woman, accusing her of “having same sex relationships with another man”

To everyone still not ok with all of this, please, just remember, who the fuck are you to have a say in other people’s lives when it doesn’t affect you? Mind your own business and stop worrying what gays, lesbians, transgender and other gender minorities do with their lives, their bodies and who they choose to love.

Also, massive as this step is, Lebanon still has a long way to go. Judge Dahdah might have been a reasonable man, but as we all know, many if not most of Lebanon’s judges are inept and corrupt. And unfortunately, our outdated judiciary system doesn’t take legal precedents into account, and handles issues case-by-case. So, next time a similar case is filed, the judge might choose to rule differently, regardless of the two brilliant legal precedents set in Batroun and Jdeideh.