Jun 24, 2013

Launching of the Media Association for Peace - MAP

On the 21st this month I was invited to the launching of the Media Association for Peace, MAP in short, at the Monroe Hotel in Beirut, by my friend, and one of the organizers, Aisha Habli. Having set up my schedule for the day, I decided to show up and squeeze-in an hour or so for the celebration, in between my work, the parliament protest, and the music festival happening all at roughly the same time.

Vanessa Bassil giving her speach

The place was packed, the organizers had apparently done a very good job organizing the whole thing. A welcoming lady at the entrance greeted me and showed me the way, a few more at the registration, and a lot more right at the door with a warm smile right before I stepped foot inside the auditorium. I blew a sigh of relief, thinking I was late to the ceremony; thank goodness we were all Lebanese: the organizers apparently sent invitations 30-minutes earlier, knowing there will still be people who would show up late, as always.

"It is just the beginning", well done for the MAP team - Nath Halawani
I have to admit though, the amount of photographers, (well, at least people with cameras) was noticeable. They were scattered here and there, partially shooting for the favor of the organization, some for a news venue, and a very few, and it might been only me, independent photographers at the event. I spotted Sara at first, a familiar face at last among all those around me. I greeted her and excused myself to put my stuff aside. Aisha was still nowhere to be found until I asked and there she was, putting the final touches on a poster thingy in the back. She even thanked me for coming!

"MAP is the Media Association for Peace, the first non-governmental organization in Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa region dedicated to work on Peace Journalism.
MAP was founded in 2013 by the Lebanese Young Peace Journalists group and its name is inspired by the definition of Peace Journalism: “Peace Journalism approach provides a new road map tracing the connections between journalists, their sources, the stories they cover and the consequences of their reporting - the ethics of journalistic intervention”"

Having managed to get the shots I needed, it was time I secluded back to the couch where a man was sitting alone, passively swiping his smartphone, or was he just waiting for the food? Anyhow, and as Aisha mentioned while coming my way, this was too official for me. It was a celebration, a launching ceremony, the kind of events where people wear suits and dresses, became all anxious and worried up of their coming performance on stage, and fill the hallways with endless back and forth promenades with a pen in between their lips, trying to wordily practice their speech.

Several speakers took rounds on that stage; it was first the initiator, Vanessa Bassil, who first started out the MAP initiative. She looked so confident on stage, so proud of what she had achieved so far, and so happy all at the same time since this is getting so true at last. I can totally relate to that, and to add to it, she was one of the few people who head organizations and actually fit in their place.

Oh and, remember the time I said that was too official? Well check this out, it was not until the ceremony ended that the MAP team has showed how they really rock. I'm proud of these guys here, knowing they were all Lebanese, and that they could've easily ended up somewhere else, with lot less achievements than here. BRAVO.

Did I say too official? - Courtesy of the MAP FB page.

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