Greetings from Beirut!
On this Fourth of July I will be celebrating with some friends here Beirut, most of which don’t know what the holiday is or what it represents, but are joining me for supposed “moral support.”
After graduating, I have decided to push World Faith full-time as a volunteer. While I am still sending our organizational plan to foundations and other contacts in search of funding that permits me to sustainably continue this pertinent work, I am also traveling to make it more “fundable.” Essentially, if there was something holding back a potential funder from supporting World Faith, I want to remove it.
So I am in Beirut now, working to help the local chapter here, 2gether, regroup after some of their key members left the country after the last bout of violence. The issue raises a more general trend, that the social entrepreneurs and promising leaders of the future leave, draining Lebanon of some of its greatest talent for the future.
Next week I will go to Amman, through Damascus, for a few days, finishing the week in Cairo. I’ll meet up with Mustafa Abdullah, the leader of Winston-Salem for World Faith chapter, to start cultivating our contacts there to see if a chapter can be started there as well. I look forward to returning to Cairo and seeing some good friends of mine, like Michael Esso, a fun-loving but dependable friend, and Angie Balata, a humbling and inspiring friend who is as quick-witted as she is sharp-tongued. Other friends await and I know it will be a good trip. I’m awaiting details, but it still looks I will continue on to Khartoum, Sudan to do the same.
While working here, at the moment from the United Lebanon Foundation’s office, I have been inspired at the value of human contact. For instance, when I flew into Beirut I had no reservation for a hotel, so I returned to the hotel we stayed at when we did the first trip of The Lebanon Project back in January. Not only did the manager, and most the staff, remember me, but he refused to charge more than half the listed price a night. Le Marly Hotel is a friend of World Faith.
Also, the frustrated state of the Lebanese population has never been more apparent. Upon passing a photo of Rafik Hariri, and digitized numbers next to him: 1 2 3 4. I asked my taxi driver what the numbers were… It has been 1,234 days since the (likely Syrian) assassination of Hariri. Yet in these few years, the Lebanese have survived more political stability than the US has since the US Civil War. Some have lost hope, resorting to accepting the status quo, or leaving Lebanon. Others retain hope, but wait for the blood-stained political leaders, virtually all guilty of crimes against humanity during the Lebanese Civil War, with non-regional and non-religious leaders who seek to unify Lebanon. However, I have found very few that are inspired enough to take action. One in particular sticks out to me.
If there were an interfaith project happening anywhere in greater Beirut, Nader Houella would be there, and there is a likely chance he had something to do with the planning. In a country of memories, Nader dreams. I don’t think I have talked to Nader on one occasion without him telling me of an idea he has had. Beyond this, he actually works to carry them out, a trait hard to come by in Lebanon. We are talking about putting together a unity concert for August, and I do believe it will happen. More to come as details progress.