Dubai: The Alumni of Al Mawakeb Schools and ISAS, in partnership with the Emirates Red Crescent Dubai, are launching a drive-through donation campaign ‘#weareallbeirut’ to collect essential items to support the Lebanese people in the wake of the devastation brought about by the port explosion on August 4.
Alissar Nasr, the Chief Academic Officer of Al Mawakeb Schools and an alumnus of 1984, spoke to Gulf News about the initiative that has gone viral over the past week.
“After the explosion, I was bombarded by so many calls from students and family members. Then I got a call unlike any of the others. It was from Noor Belhoul, who graduated from Al Mawakeb in 2006. She insisted that we have to do something,” says Nasr.
In less than 72 hours, Belhoul was able to obtain a licence from the Red Crescent and the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities department. “When we heard the news of the explosion in Lebanon, it felt as though our own homes had been destroyed,” says Belhoul. “We knew we could not just stand by and that we have to take immediate action.
“We met on Friday with some alumni and by Saturday our first post was online,” says Nasr, who was shocked by the overwhelming response that the post got and how it was reposted by many famous influencers in the UAE and Lebanon. “I believe that people all wanted to help, they were just waiting for something to do and by creating this initiative we gave them that.”
The campaign aims to collect and distribute essential items directly to those affected by the incident through the Emirates Red Crescent Dubai focusing specifically on food supplies, basic medication and essential supplies. The alumni will be present at the school between August 14 and 16 to receive the items in a drive-through system that was put in place to keep the charity run as safe as possible.
“We had a lot of alumni and volunteers who wanted to get involved but we needed to keep it exclusive to 42 alumni to remain safe during this pandemic,” says Nasr. “We had really great brainstorming sessions. Each of the alumni had their own expertise and experience that they were bringing to the table. We hope to do another campaign in the coming months that can involve the students as well. We have to instill the spirit of giving in our children.”
Each of the alumni had their own expertise and experience that they were bringing to the table. We hope to do another campaign in the coming months that can involve the students as well.
The explosion caused catastrophic damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure surrounding a 10km radius leaving over 300,000 Lebanese families displaced. Governments and individuals around the world are providing donations and charity runs to help the victims and those affected by the tragedy.
Nasr believes that while some of the alumni and volunteers had family members that were affected by the tragedy in Beirut, many of them did not and it was just the innate sense of union and brotherhood and made everyone stand together. “There has always been a strong brotherhood between the UAE and Lebanon. I was raised in this country. I remember when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said [in 1993] that the prosperity of Lebanon is also the prosperity of the UAE.”
The response of the public in the UAE has been overwhelming and the general spirit of giving prevailed, which is something that Nasr believes is a strong part of the project’s success, “We are all connected. The whole Arab world has united during this difficult time. I hope that one day we can all live in a world that is driven by humanity above all.”