Lebanon: Growing on me...

This place is growing on me.  It’s a welcome shift and very much comes from a more concerted effort to “be” here, take note of what realities soften my gaze on this present experience (such as being outdoors as written about in an earlier post), and then act on such awareness.  As well, as I think can be said of any location, when one starts to experience and take note of positive efforts for change, a new vantage point opens up.

Efforts to ban smoking in public places is a formidable task anywhere (Oregon’s own efforts have only reached full capacity in the past few years) but in Lebanon, where, some studies posit, 60% of Lebanese youth smoke (a Daily Star article to this regard), the task can seem insurmountable.  One needs only to take a walk or pass a neighborhood cafe to see that, anecdotally, data of this sort is pretty realistic.  Yet, voices are being raised, groups supporting this health measure are active (one example) and some venues, such as Tawlet, are ahead of the curve, modeling what could be.

Groups like IBSAR are working to raise environmental awareness as well as provide points of intersection between the array of Lebanese residents.  Last weekend I was able to see these efforts first hand.  Yes, we worked some on the Lebanese Mountain Trail, clearing debris, rebuilding a portion of a rock partition, and the like, but the morning was more so about three groups of students learning about one another, sharing an experience, and finding commonalities.

There are the individuals who volunteer time and resource to aid students in their pursuit of higher education through SAT tutoring, free of charge.  Those who venture to Bourj el Barajneh or other Palestinian refugee camp local to teach English or into the detention centers where domestic workers, whose paperwork has lapsed, are held, bringing food, basic needs, and a listening ear.  Individuals giving of their time, pushing their limits to make “here” better.