From Frontlines to Cultural Cafe: MARCH’s Tripoli Success Story
In my ten years of activating in Lebanon, nothing has impressed me and made me more proud than what MARCH has been able to accomplish and continues to in Tripoli’s former conflict zones.
Despite all odds, the MARCH team led by Lea Baroudi brought together young men and women from the notorious Beb El Tebbeneh and Jabal Mohsen neighborhoods in Tripoli. Over a course of more than a year, the actors transitioned from former combatants and prospective refugees, into community leaders in their neighborhoods solidifying reconciliation and bringing the severely neglected communities together for a common cause: peace and prosperity far away from violence and extremism.
Security concerns, resistance and intimidation from local non-state actors and a deep distrust and fear of each other took months to thaw, but the results stunned everyone, including the MARCH team and our partners. A witty, honest play that eloquently satirized the tragic conditions the actors face every day which the actors co-wrote and co-directed was the result of months of stubborn perseverance. It toured all over the country and a documentary that cataloged the arduous process was also received with much praise and massive boosts of serotonin for everyone who witnessed them and got to meet with the actors.
But, that wasn’t enough. Capitalizing on the positive momentum of the play “Love And War on the Rooftop”, MARCH decided to turn the results into a more sustainable project. That’s when the “Ahwenta Cafe — Cafe bi Kafak” idea came to life.
The idea was to rehabilitate a building that lies where the former demarcation line was and turn it into a culutral cafe. The cafe would be a space where the artistic knack of the young men and women who were part of that project could keep doing what they do best: entertain and educate the rest of us about the importance of denouncing violence and coming together to overcome obstacles posed by an absent government and malicious political and extremist influence on the country’s most vulnerable communities.
The guys and gals helped rehabilitate and equip the cafe and they will be running it themselves as of THIS Sunday! It brings me extreme joy to let you guys know that the success of the play has been turned into a permanent cultural cafe, where the boys and girls have stable jobs and for once, hope for the future. The amateur actors that won over the hearts and minds of their neighbors and families, and also the rest of us who before, only heard bad news about that part of Tripoli, now have their own space to do stand-up, perform music, watch movies, host talks or just have a nice cup of coffee and relax in a spot that once divided them for many, many years.
So, this Sunday join us in Tripoli at 11:00AM for the official opening of the cafe! RSVP and share the event here, and don’t forget to like the page to stay updated about the events and activities in Tripoli’s hottest new cultural cafe!