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البريد الإلكتروني
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15 December 2013
“I AM NOT A TOURIST”: Over 50 volunteers and 4,500 participants make it happen
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Behind the joy that the recent falling snow has brought to children, the smiles of snowmen, the warmth of chimney fires and coziness of one’s home, behind the Christmas preparations and festivities, is hidden a suffering like no other - that of the Syrian refugees.

However, just when you might think there is no longer hope for humanity, that today’s world is all about neglecting the other and turning a blind eye to the misery he is living in, a group of youth proves you wrong.

“I AM NOT A TOURIST” is an event that took place on Saturday at Downtown Beirut (Beirut by Bike) witnessing the participation of more than 4500 people from various nationalities.

The campaign that first started as a small personal initiative consisting of donating clothes to Syrian refugees, later turned out to be one of the biggest donation campaigns.

According to event organizer Tanya Khalil, the event was launched through social media in an attempt to get her ‘friends’ to donate some clothes they no longer need.

“We are not even an NGO. The campaign simply started to spread through social media and people from different countries started contacting me, asking me how they can help” she said.

When asked if she had expected the donations to be so many, Khalil said that despite her “positive surprise”, she “always had faith in people and their ability to make a difference.”

“Donations started coming in since the early morning, long before the event began. We were about 5 people collecting clothes, but the number of volunteers slowly grew, reaching more than 50 volunteers in total.”

“Most of them don’t know each other but still managed to coordinate in what seemed to be a ‘human chain’, in order to help each other load the trucks,” Khalil added.

On why a campaign of the sort was delayed, volunteer Jean-Pierre Chalouhi stressed that “people simply did not know how drastic the refugees’ condition is and how badly they needed the help.”

“All we hear about in the media is politics and stuff that we don’t really care about, while there is no light being shed on the humanitarian aspect of the situation.”

“The government has refused the proposal of constructing IKEA shelters for the refugees out of fear that the Palestinian refugees’ scenario would repeat itself,” he said, stressing that “such decisions should not be based on fears, but rather on love and compassion.”

“This campaign has officially restored my faith in humanity,” Khalil concluded.

The collected items consisting of clothes, shoes, blankets, carpets, etc. will be sorted according to age and sex before being distributed by “SAWA” and “War Child Lebanon” organizations, over the next few days, on Syrian refugees living across Lebanese territory, namely in Bekaa and Akkar.

(Reporting by Christina Rizk and Jennyfer Jaber; Writing by Jennyfer Jaber)

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