When Yoga, Arts and Music Meet Humanity

When Yoga, Arts and Music Meet Humanity

The first thing that comes up to your mind, what is the link between Yoga and humanitarian activities? It was the first time I hear about Yoga Activism when Shayma defined it to me with full excitement after 3al Autostrad humanitarian day with refugees that took place on May 7th 2016 in one of the Syrian refugee camps at Beqaa Valley – Lebanon.

Shayma and Sharon, Yoga teachers with their friend Myrna had a strong eager to do something for humanity, specifically with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. I met Sharon couple of months ago to introduce her to Humanwire. It was a cold rainy Thursday evening after her Yoga class at Shiva Lila Yoga Space. We brainstormed together many ideas until we came up with a good one which is to choose one camp and specify their needs and wants. Throughout the follow ups, I was astonished by the excitement and motivation the three ladies had to make this event happens. Our target was a small camp which includes 10 tents with around 15 families.

Four months later, everything we planned for was ready for the big day. By everything I mean pretty enough food parcels, bread boxes, hygiene kits, brand new clothes, toys, colors and coloring books for kids to sustain them for minimum two months.

Our day started with a meet and greet between the refugee families and the organizers, volunteers as well as friends. Toys and brand new clothes were distributed to the kids. Looking through the kids eyes while hearing their names to receive toys and clothes bags was completely a different happiness perspective.

The peak time was when all the kids gathered around Shayma to participate in a basic Yoga session. The scene was indescribable! It was like the kids were waiting such kind of activities to release their energy. Everyone was counting, smiling and enjoying the session. “During and after the event the feeling was priceless, cannot express it” Shayma says. “I have always wanted to do any kind of humanitarian work. But I got really inspired and decided to do something when I was introduced to Yoga Activism” she added.

Humanwire’s minivan arrived with food parcels, bread and hygiene kits. Volunteers from Salam NGO, organizers and friends all worked together to make sure every family get its parcels. Myrna took the lead in carrying boxes and she seemed tired less and extremely happy. Later on she grabbed the opportunity to do a face painting session for kids and draw giggles on their angelic faces. “3al autostrad was not an event, it was a life changing experience.” Myrna says. “The purpose was designed as an aid program for the refugees, raising funds to provide them with the necessary supplies they need, preparing a long day to be spent with the families and kids entertaining them and maybe put a smile on each of their faces and so it was.”

Belime band joined us and began to play music. They absolutely added a sweet taste to the atmosphere; everyone was singing and dancing. Sharon was entertaining the kids eventually all the day.  “I felt that by being at the camp, surrounded by all these refugees, I was not wasting oxygen on earth – on contrary, I was actually making a difference because helping others in always possible. It is the most genuine and rewarding feeling ever! 3al Austostrad is just the beginning!” She said.

Lunch time has arrived and refugees were ready to grab their plates. We have distributed enough food portions per each family. A unique incident grabs everyone’s attention, most of them refused to eat until the rest of the family members are gathered. This action touched us and taught us a moral that family comes first, no matter in which situation we are.

Group images, selfies and videos were a must before saying goodbye to cherish and save the moments. “None of the event organizers nor of the volunteers who participated wanted to leave” Myrna said. This event is planned to occur on yearly basis. Join the folk and follow your heart. In humanity we are one.

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How Syrian Refugee Crises Changed My Life?

How Syrian Refugee Crises Changed My Life?

It’s pretty normal how the Syrian refugee crises had a huge impact on Lebanese citizens whether positively or negatively. I am one of millions been influenced by the refugee crises.

At the beginning of the war, my head couldn’t accept the fact that a war is happening in Syria; the land of peace. I was stubborn that Syrian citizens shouldn’t leave their country, shouldn’t let strangers interfere with the biggest lie of “Arab spring” and devastate Syria. Regardless whether I was right or not, deep down there was a volcano to explode.

Unfortunately, in Lebanon there are two parties, one support the Syrian revolution and the other extremely with Assad regime. I bet most of these people never thought of how it feels when you live inside a tent on a stormy day with no blanket or oil to get warm.

Personally I was passing through a serious dilemma and was not able to figure out who’s telling the truth until I began working with a local Non-Governmental Organization, Solace Foundation in an initiative called Lebanese for Refugees (L4R). At first, I worked as a Social Media Coordinator for a period of one year. I was virtually involved until the first distribution trip to the camps on January 2015 (Campaign to keep them warm)

This trip was a turning point for me. It took me 4 years to realize how difficult and miserable to be a refugee. Back in 2006, Lebanon passed through 33 horrible days! A war between Hizbollah and Israel. I am one of those who ran away to Syria during that period. I started asking myself, what if the 2006 war lasted for 4 years? What if my family and I were obliged to live in a camp with no means of support? Are we able to sustain? Plenty of questions pumped up my brain and wasn’t able to sleep for 2 days after the distribution trip.

A year passed and many things have changed in my personality, specifically after moving to Humanwire and began working as Executive Director of Operations. Being in direct contact with these people daily is so much different than watching them on television or reading their stories on social media platforms. It’s much more miserable and much more harder than you think. For instance, one family may pass two days without having anything to eat and sleep under the rain drops coming from tiny holes on the ceiling. This is horrible!

Working on the field  and following up on day-to-day operations with refugees, got me to change my perspective toward life as a whole. I turned out to be more grateful for everything I have, more humble and precisely a positive person.

Nothing is compared to the love, respect and prayers I receive from these beautiful souls whom they deserve to live peacefully in their own land.