Oct 15, 2013

Adha For A Cause

One of the most beautiful pictures I ever seen. The clown mob in Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen

I wonder how easy it is to make somebody's day. Now that I and some friends had brightened the day of more than 200 children at least, I can simply ask myself what would stop me next from bringing joy to somebody's heart. I and everybody else have heard a handful of "You're the first ones to visit us in Eid", how could that be cold-heartedly overheard anymore?

All it took was Mu'taz's message last night, inviting a bunch of local friends for a gathering the next day morning. Point was to visit the two most damaged and violent areas in Tripoli: Jabal Mohsen and Tebbaneh. The resonance of both names in the back of our minds was an alerting sign of a bad thing to happen, only for a split second. But in fact, several got the kick to declare their participation and say "I'm in".

Although rumours were spreading around yesterday in town (as they always do) of a decision to start the fight the day afterwards (today), and ever since the town was under havoc once the gen. Rifi appeared on TV, the decision to go through the activity remained standing, and Taz in his message made it more than clear that "everybody's responsible for themselves".

Taz painting on kids faces and arms in Tebbaneh
The idea was pretty simple: A rather miniature flashmob or clown walk, where everybody dresses up as a clown, with facial paint and props everywhere, a barrel of sweets and a LOT of joy. Taz had also invited us to feel free to inform the children of how mischievous the toy guns are whenever there was chance.

Gathering was as agreed, waited a bit more for Yahya while we tied up the balloons and got our make up ready. Once everybody was ready, two cars were heading for our first checkpoint: Tebbaneh. I don't hide the fact I was a little worried of the outcome, but I had told myself on and on that, no matter what good I try to offer my community, no matter what activities I take part at to make people happy, if I can't succeed at this, I'm not really good at anything. And there we were, trunk open, props spread out among us and we're set on the very beginning of Tebbaneh.

Several young boys had gathered around us intuitively asking us of what we were doing there. Little did they know, as well as ourselves, that this little gathering of a bunch of Tripolitan guys and girls would turn into the wildest and biggest Eid celebration gathering in town in a long time. All I generally remember is the horns, the soap bubbles, the laughing faces, the startled parents, the curious neighbours and my lovely friends everywhere. We tried as much as possible to stick together at the beginning, soon to be ignored once we got so comfortable around the kids.

I personally have been to the place before, and trust me, today was nothing like before. The cooperation, the happiness and the overjoy was unbeatable. It's even the adults who made it better, they were offering us whatever they could to make it easier for the group of clowns to bring joy to the largest count of children ever. I can never forget the faces of all the grown-ups who thought we were funny and, unexpectedly, were laughing with us instead of at us.

Soon after the dabkeh has ended, the sweets have vanished, all faces were painted, smiles everywhere, not a single neighbour remained inside and the whole Tebbaneh has heard of us, it was time for us to pack and leave to our next destination: Jabal. Note to self: whenever in Tebbaneh and want to leave, leave silently. Running out chased down by the whole tebbaneh kids clan is not the highlight of my day :)

Soon after all preparations are done with, it was time for us to move to Jabal Mohsen. First thing I noticed there was the attitude of the kids and of course the adults there. The faces were more comfortable yet a bit more shy. It was something you could never easily let go of. I had the feeling that the people there felt as if they were unwanted, unwelcome or simply rejected by the town. And I don't blame them.

It only took me one chance to paint a child's face until the whole street wanted me to paint their faces and fronts as well. Had I been through it all, I couldn't but be amazed of the difference between kids here and there. All they wanted for drawings and symbols was flowers and butterflies for girls, and name initials for boys, compared to the fighter looks the Tebbaneh kids wanted, with the brows and under-eyes black paint, that's IF they ever agreed to be face-painted.

It wasn't long before we heard a shooting somewhere around us, and I've been told too we were on a demarcation line between both areas. To those who are unfamiliar with the place, that demarcation line was the most exposed street in the whole region, being beaten down the most whenever there's a fight. Knowing that we had done what we wanted to do in there, it was time for us to eventually leave. It was the thirst that took me to a nearby store to buy some water, gave him 2000LBP for two bottles of water. Got both bottles and he returned a 1000LBP, when asked why he answered with "half on you, and half on me, kel 3id w entou bkheir".

Maya can't breathe anymore!
 All of what I witnessed today left my heart so warm I felt I needed to do even more of what happened. The compassion my friends showed, the enthusiasm and the dedication are what kept me moving. I made sure I kept checking their faces throughout both flashmobs, I hadn't seen any bit of discourage or fear in their eyes, all there was is the courage and determination.

Khaled right after the mobs ended

Taz's message to the group
Finally, here's some of what we had done today:
  1. We celebrated Eid with kids from both Jabal Mohsen and Tebbaneh
  2. We broke the barrier of fear
  3. Both areas' citizens have witnessed a loud day like no other
  4. Children have now the chance to memorize at least one day of what happiness and tolerance mean
  5. Kids have laughed and they have seen how it's possible to enjoy something besides the toy guns in Eid
  6. Many of those who have flipped over the pictures now have more guts to do the same
  7. People there knew that there's at least a bunch of guys that haven't forgotten them

Thank you Taz for the initiative, thank you guys for the help, the rides, the shares and the spirit all in all.
I apologize for most of my friends and family for not being there, this has been really important to me, among many other things as well.
All I wish right now is to wake up one day and see new faces taking another step in that afflicted part of Tripoli doing one other activity to make these people a bit happier. Love you all.


  1. Thank you Nath for your sweet words and for contributing and making this initiative happened

  2. Hope we can join the first coming event...