Every day we read the news that violence in Syria is increasing. Reports of different war tactics, kidnappings, and who’s gaining ground flood the headlines. But hundreds of thousands of people have fled Syria and many of them have ended up in the Bekaa Valley. The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of the organizations providing help to these refugees and they run a Community Center in the Bekaa. Matias and Adrian were put in contact with, and joined the NRC to the Bekaa when they partnered with a Norwegian TV program to make a short story about the living conditions of Syrian refugee children.
We arranged a ride with another Norwegian, Mads, who runs an NGO called the Norwegian Refugee Council and dropped us off in Zahle on his way to Hermel.
Mads gave us a short lesson on the hour-long drive up to the valley about the NRC. As an NGO, they work with the community using long-term solutions for deep problems. They employ mostly local residents, in fact Mads, our connection, is the only foreigner among Lebanese staff. He told us that in order to maintain their credibility in the villages, they do not accept American donations, as their money transfers are completely transparent. It seems that when an organization comes in with American money, Hezbollah doesn’t let the organization operate in the community as America is an enemy of the party (and vice versa).
Another legitimizing factor of the NRC is that it wasn’t created as a solution to a problem in the Middle East; It’s been around since 1946 to aid refugees around Europe after WWII. To think, they didn’t stick their hands in the rest of the world without first starting locally. Kudos.
Right now in the Bekaa, they run a small school offering “emergency education” for Syrian children where they learn English, Arabic and arts. We talked to a few of the kids, all of whom have only been in Lebanon ranging from four weeks to six months. They had sad stories but it was impossible not to be affected by the never-ending happiness, energy, and effervescence they exuded.
Hanging out at the school we caught their English lesson which was taught by a Lebanese woman who looked like Nancy Ajram. She was teaching them phrases like “May I get a tissue, may I go to the bathroom, etc etc.” We asked the kids if they spoke English and most of them said no because they had only started the English classes two days ago. They ranged in age from five years old to thirteen and all of them had been in school back in Syria.
Then we went to check out another aspect of the NGO’s work, namely setting up housing arrangements for refugee families. We were expecting a tent city like the ones the Bedouins in Lebanon live in but situation is different. The NRC brokers deals with Lebanese families who have unfinished houses or unfinished housing extensions. Like the ones Jorgen and Matias slept in on their Walk of Causes. Each Syrian family is allowed to live in these unfinished dwellings while the NRC pays for fixing the windows and cracks in the walls to the benefit of the house owners. With these additions as payment, the Syrian family does not have to pay rent.
While we were filming in one house that was inhabited by a mother, father, and three kids, we noticed they filled the cracks in the walls with plastic bags to keep the wind out. And although they had a sobiyye it was still pretty chilly inside. We can only imagine how much colder it will become as winter moves forward. Not to mention all the other refugee families who are not so lucky in receiving aid like this.
Mads told us that right now there are almost 100,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, but the numbers are increasing every day. For Mads and the aid-workers keeping up with providing shelter and basic amenities is becoming harder and harder. The NRC accepts monetary donations on their website nrc.no.
Also, you can donate much needed essentials at Nasawiya, the organization with a space in Mar Mikhael or Nabaa. Every week they make deliveries up to the Bekaa and some of the things most needed are:
Warm things: sweaters, socks, sleeping bags, scarves, and gas heaters
First aid supplies and medicines
Anything really: games, clothes, non-perishable food, sanitary items
– Full-length interview with the producer of this summer’s biggest hits.
– BONUS VIDEO! Crowd Cam from Example’s performance at Hove!!!
Today marks the UK release of Live Life Living, the fifth album of Brit musician Example. Sure we had never heard of him before despite his whopping 2 million followers on Twitter and 25 million listens on Spotify, but Example already knows that.
“In Norway people know my songs more than my name, when I tell them I’m Example they’re like ‘... [more]
– Catch the show tonight so he doesn’t have to
“We’ll be stage diving and shit, so hopefully I won’t break my knee or neck, I don’t want to die. Ok, If I could choose to die I’d rather die on stage then somewhere else…” Rapper Arif told 2famous.TV, as we discussed being a local superstar, what festivals like HOVE mean to Norwegian artists and what we should expect from his show tonight.
– The kids went mental!
Some of the artists at the Hove festival OWNED the audience, and Bastille was definitely one of the highlights. With complete crowd control they moved thousands of Norwegian teenagers to synchronized madness. It was one of those experiences that will live for ever on hundreds of Instagram accounts. (Most of the kids here says that they don’t remember the festival from day to day). [more]
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Earl Sweatshirt, who hails from my hometown adjacent city of Los Angeles (well, as you’ll see in the video, even if L.A. is the easiest point of reference on the international scene, if you grew up in the ‘burbs, never tell people who are actually from L.A. that you’re from there, because they will call your Orange County ass out so fast), shook the AMFI stage with some hard-... [more]
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