News and Events
Dedication of Aleppo Park, Ramlet el-Beida, Beirut
Thanks to a decision of the Beirut Municipality Mayor responding to months of lobbying by MSCRL, a large vacant lot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at Ramlet el-Beida, which had been ‘‘illegally’’ used by Syrian refugee families and lone children (presominantly from Aleppo) to picinic and play, was legally promoted to the status of park and dedicated by MSCRL as Aleppo Park on January 21, 2017.
19 March 2016, noon: Test Distribution of packed hot meals to 80 Syrian Refugee Children, Ramlet el-Baida Beach, main entrance.
5 April 2016: Packed hot meals were distributed to 46 Syrian Refugee Children at the following locations in Beirut: The Cola roundabout near Shatila Palestinian Refugee camp and Mar Elias neighborhood, near Ramlet el-Baida.
Friday, 22 April, 2016, 12 noon Meals (total of 700) cooked and donated by the American University of Beirut, Departments of Nutrition and Food Sciences, were distributed at Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp where roughly one- third of the 3,400 children are from Syria and camping there. Huge bunches of bananas were distributed to the children thanks to the kindness of Moustapha Moughrabi, general manager of the wholesale produce market next to Shatila Camp. Shatila Youth Center rounded up the children, set up tables, and organized the distribution with the help of Silvio Arcangeli and two colleagues from the Italian ‘‘Ingegneria Sensa Frontiere’’, Roma (‘‘Engineering without Frontiers, Rome’’), and other volunteers. There were also music and games to make it truly a festive occasion.
Friday, 6 May, 2016, 12 noon Meals were distributed at Ramlet el-Baida Beach to 129 children
Wednesday, 11 May, 2016,noon Over two and a half hours MSCRL fed approximately 100 children and eight adults. The menu included delicious spaghetti and meat balls, mixed salad, bread, juice, water, cooked carrots, and homemade cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. These had been baked at the American School which is located down the hill from AUB by the students, who volunteered with their cooking class teacher from Minnesota, to serve the meals. The meal distribution was wild and fun and the children know they are loved. Franklin always speaks a little about Syria and gives them a thumbs up while saying "Syria Queiss" ("Syria is great"). The chidren reciprocated with a thumbs up and knowing smile.
Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 12 noon
Khalefee restaurant off airport road prepared at the request of MSRCL 200 packaged hot meals which were distributed to the children at Ramlet el-Baida beach
Friday , 20 May, 2016, 12 noon
Meals were distributed to 130 children and 20 adults in a church just outside of Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian Refugee Camp.
Friday, 27 May, 2016, 12-1.30pm:
100 meals were distributed at St. Francis Church near AUB; Hamra District
Saturday, 28 May, 2016, 12-1.30pm: St Francis Church, Hamra, Beirut: Meals distributed to 140 children
Friday 10 June 2016, noon
210 children fed
Tuesday 14 June 2016, noon,
300 meals distributed to the children
Friday 17 June 2016, noon,
300 meals distributed
23 June 2016, Iftar at Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp: Hot Meals for 150 children.
24 June 2016, Iftar, Joint Event of MSCRL and CYC (Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Children and Youth Centre) for 200 children
29 June 2016, Iftar at Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp: Hot Meals for 150 children
1 July 2016, Iftar in Hamra Street, Beirut, for 150 children
2, 3 and 4 July 2016 , Eid al-Fitr joint MSCRL/CYC event at Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Children and Youth Centre: Meals, Gifts of new Clothes and full program of entertainment for 300 children
Friday 8 July 2016, Distribution of Meals for 143 children and adults
Friday 13 July 2016, Distribution of Meals for 150 children
Throughout the Summer and Autumn, MSCRL has distributed meals every Friday noon to between 139 and 150 children in Hamra district, Beirut
Since early December MSCRL has distributed meals to only 121 children, owing to lack of funds and the “closing shop for the winter” (resulting from lack of donations) of two NGOs with whom MSCRL partnered on three occasions.
2016 ended with a US $230 deficit. Thanks to a few donations trickling in early January 2017, MSCRL has, however, pursued doggedly its distribution of meals each Friday.
We shall never give up, but donations, however, small, are urgently needed for us to continue feeding hot, nutritious meals to the children, particularly during the cold and rainy Lebanese winter.
Please help us feed the homeless Syrian refugee Children in Beirut
No one can feed everyone.
But everyone can try
to feed someone
Special thanks to a five star hotel in Beirut that has updated its kitchen ware. The donation includes more than 200 of each item of cutlery and dishes, large serving bowls and serving plates of very high and durable quality. These have replaced Styrofoam plates, cups and plastic eating utensils... all big polluters.
Our hope for a matching donation in money and kind to fill these with hot food for the children was fulfilled on 16 and 20 May thanks to an Anonymous British Donor. This gift has enabled MSCRL to increase to 3 the distribution of hot meals per week, as long as the funds last. The same Anonymous British Donor also sponsered the Eid al-Fitr new clothes for 300 children by contributing on 18 June a large sum.
She gave another large sum on 26 August 2016. We are indebted.
We hope for other enthusiastic donors to join us in feeding "our" children from Syria.
MSRCL new policy for food shopping towards Meals for Syrian Refugee Children
The MSRCL team has decided to shift its food purchases policy in order to help Syrian and Palestinian shop owners in Shatila, Burj El Barajneh and Mar Elias refugee camps.
For large purchases of produce we will continue with our friend Mustafa, at his Beirut Wholesale Market outlet. Since we distribute meals on average to between 150 and 175 children per event, and given a modest budget so far, it makes sense to buy from refugees in the three Beirut refugee camps. They give us a good price and the meat and poultry, like their fruits and vegetables, could not be fresher, and hence they are more nutritious for the kids.
Our amended policy at MSRCL is motivated by wanting to better aid the refugee camps’ weak economy, if only modestly, until we acquire more partners and can open up a storefront serving one hot, nutritious meal per day to every Syrian refugee child who needs one.
For dry goods, for example pasta, canned goods, or tissues, the camp prices equal or are only slightly higher than those at Spinney’s, the main supermarket in Beirut and Saida.
Let us introduce to you some MSRCL refugee camp suppliers. Both of these first two shops are on Rue Sabra and near the former PRCS Gaza Hospital. What is left of the hospital now houses about 900 refugees, since it was stripped of all its equipment - including its wiring and plumbing fixtures - during the 1985-89 massacres committed against these and other Palestinian camps.
Abu Mohammad the owner of the meat market is from al-Quds. Ahmad, our main poultry supplier at MSRCL, is from Safed, North Palestine. Abu Ramsi, the greengrocer from Jaffa, Palestine, is a great guy and good friend.
How MSCRL operates Hot Meal Distributions
Buying and "Spreading
We purchase the groceries, buy the fruit and vegetables from the Beirut wholesale market next to Shatila Palestinian camp, find a hot meal distribution site and spread the word on the street or through a few contacts we have developed. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can arrange a store front at a street level accessible location so the children can easily find us without a search or, on the basis of rumors, guess where to find us.
Aiming for a Fixed MSRCL Base.
If and when we can afford a fixed local, we can store supplies, cooking utensils, dishes, acquire tables and colorful table cloths, and chairs, put up a large sign outside inviting children and pass the word to NGOs and others.
Beirut municipality would cooperate as regards a permit, and we would want the Health Department to regularly inspect us. A fixed location would have many benefits for food donations, volunteers dropping by, and particularly confidence building among the children that the premises is ‘‘theirs’’, so that they feel comfortable.
A ‘‘permanent’’ site would also allow for easier referrals to NGOs of children’s cases which we, by chance, happen upon, that obviously warrant social welfare attention.
On Meals Distribution Days
We often take photos if the kids agree (which they quickly tend to do once we connect with them - this taking ten minutes or less), but we do not photograph hijab-wearing or older, obviously conservative women. Volunteers prepare the salad and heat the main dish prepared earlier, and serve the plates once the tables are set.
At this point in the MSRCL meal distribution event, I personally become thrilled. I typically ask a refugee girl and a boy - maybe seven or eight years old - if they could please help us and be the hosts and direct our grown-up volunteers what to do. At first they may be a bit surprised, if not shocked and shy. But they typically agree and end up having great fun!
So the meal serving operation is “directed” by the two “Meal Leaders’’ for that day and we ask them questions as the food starts to be readied and distributed to the place settings.
For example, we ask them: “Please Miss or Mr. Meal Director, where on the table do you think we should place the water bottles for our guests? Do you want us to put the desserts on the left or the right side of the plates?’’, or “Please tell our volunteers how much salad we should put on the plate since we know you don’t want us to waste food and you know best about kids your age.” and/or “Do you agree that our guests should be allowed to take home any leftovers?".
Our “Meal Distribution Directors” for our MSCRL Iftar for Syrian children on 27 June 2016 are shown in the last 2 photographs of our series. Yara on my left is from Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus and Abed to the right is from Aleppo. It was a pleasure to work under them and they were very savvy about how to deal with some of the more rambunctious children and had great ideas about how to place the meal settings.
Within minutes the often previously diffident-shy tykes are running the show and we all have great fun! I am inclined to invite shy kids to be the Meal Directors - thinking that perhaps it would give them a little self-confidence “to be in charge” of and helping their peers at mealtime.
The little girl in the second photo is from Homs and has now become a terrific ‘‘Meal Director’’. From being painfully shy, seemingly depressed and uncommunicative just a few weeks ago she’s now a blossoming gregarious extrovert and even a bit cheeky at times. For example, if a Syrian kid does not clean her or his plate, she often gets on their case instantly instructing them in Arabic “To waste food is Haram!” Having completed her job as an appointed “Meal Director” on this particular day she is taking home some leftovers for later.
The dual purpose of MSRCL hot nutritious meals distributions for Syrian Refugee Children are:
1. Feed the children
2. Show the precious ones that we love them and are their friends and can’t wait to see them next time. Which is true!
Franklin LAMB Born and raised in Milwaukie, Oregon, Franklin Lamb served as an Assistant Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee in the US Congress after earning his law degree from Boston University School of Law as well as LLM, MPhil, and PhD Degrees from the London School of Economics (LSE), earning also the University College London (UCL) Diploma in International Air & Space law. Lamb then completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center where he specialized in Chinese Law, as well as International Legal Studies at Cambridge University in the UK, while spending two summers studying Public International Law at The Hague Academy of International Law at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands. During the administration of President Jimmy Carter, Lamb was elected to a four-year term representing Oregon on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and co-chaired the DNC Judicial Council with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California before joining the campaign staff of Presidential candidate Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
For the past nearly three years (2013-2015) Dr Lamb has traveled Syria wherever and whenever security conditions allowed, in order to research, photograph and document endangered archaeological sites and to expose the illegal excavations, looting, international trade and iconoclasm which has caused so much destruction to our shared global cultural heritage. The oldest remains found in Syria date from the Paleolithic era (ca 800 BC). Artifacts and archaeological sites currently in danger date from
5500 BC at Tel Halaf in Northern Syria and cover the Babylonian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Crusader and Ayyubid periods. Subsequently, from the 15th century, Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire. All of these sources of our globally shared cultural heritage are in danger of being ravaged and in many cases have already been destroyed. Lamb has chronicled destruction to religious icons, images, monuments, and myriad ancient structures that span pre-Roman civilizations, Islamic structures such as mosques, churches and synagogues, all of which continue to be threatened for destruction for religious or political motives. His book, Syria’s Endangered Heritage. An International Responsibility to Protect and Preserve (2015) presents exclusive unpublished photographs, data and interviews from across the whole of Syria. His numerous books include International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra—Shatila Massacre (1983, Arabic and English), Reason Not the Need: Eyewitness Chronicles of Israel’s War in Lebanon (1984), repr. As Israel’s 1982 War in Lebanon: Eyewitness Chronicles of the Invasion and Occupation (2014), The Price We Pay: A Quarter—Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons against Civilians in Lebanon (2006, Arabic and English), and Syria’s Endangered Heritage: An International Responsibility to Protect and Preserve (2015, Arabic and English).
Linda MACKTABY, Director of the Blessed School, East Beirut
Jennie WALTON, Beirut
Ghada JILANI, Beirut
Claudine DAUPHIN Born in 1950 in Alexandria (Egypt) of French parents (both journalists who had covered the First Palestine War of 1948-1949) and Christened in the Crusader Church of St Anne’s in the Old City of Jerusalem, she grew up in Amman, Baghdad, Ankara, London, The Hague, Athens and Moscow. She gained an MA Honours Degree in Near Eastern Archaeology (1971) and a PhD (1974) at the University of Edinburgh. She also holds a Doctorat d’Etat ès-Lettres (1994) of Paris-I University (Sorbonne).
She trained in Byzantine fieldwork in Turkey, researched mosaic pavements across the Levant, and from 1975 directed excavations at major sites of Byzantine Palaestina.
Her passion for the Middle East since Antiquity, the changing distribution patterns of its population, its religious diversity, health, and diet, have led her to publish, besides over 200 articles, a three-volume study of La Palestine byzantine: Peuplement et Populations (Oxford, 1998), followed by Eucharistic Bread or Thistles? Fact or Fiction? The Diet of the Desert Fathers in Late Antique Egypt and Palestine (Lampeter, 2009).
The peoples of the Middle East, in particular those displaced by war and turned into refugees, are at the heart of her work and life. Her commitment to Justice and her empathy with children have led her to contribute to the MSRCL Initiative her organisational skills as Coordinator with Donors and Partners.
Khalid SADIQ A British Muslim, born 1965 and raised in London. He is married and has three children, two of whom are married. A keen football fan, he supports Manchester United. He has lived through punk, rock, ska, new wave and britpop music, has travelled with his family to many countries and met many people. He says: ‘‘I do not see countries. I see a world. I see humans’’. His deep sense of humanity guides his drive, determination and strong will to find a resolution for all issues. Since he greatly enjoys participating in the social media, he runs the MSRCL Crowdrise page. He is also collecting blankets, sleeping bags, children’s clothes and toys in the UK to send over to Beirut.