With the IS theft of my work and subsequent media coverage last year, I decided to keep my travel to Lebanon low profile until after I was done working with refugee children near the Syrian border. Even though IS has very little presence or influence in the area where I was working, I felt it was best to err on the side of caution and not endanger the children in any way. As a result, I didn’t update the travelog or post very much on social media while in the field. In the coming days, I’ll be remedying that and looking back on the work.
I arrived in Beirut in mid-February, a little over a year since my first trip there, and gave myself a few days in town to claw through the worst of the jetlag. Despite its politician-created garbage crisis, Darwinian traffic, and nearly unimaginable social & economic disparity, Beirut continues to grow on me, mostly because of the amazing people I’ve met while working there - all trying to make a difference in a region (and world) where the effort is sorely needed.
I once again had the opportunity to partner with Art Therapist Myra Saad and the Kayany Foundation, both doing remarkable good in their own right. In the time I was away, Kayany opened three additional schools for Syrian refugees, including one built with a grant from The Malala Fund, and Myra’s art therapy studio Artichoke expanded and relocated into Beirut’s main economic and diplomatic hub known as Hamra.
In-between Myra’s busy schedule, she and I were able to work with five separate and overlapping groups of Syrian refugee children, organized by Kayany. In addition to the art-based interviews at the cornerstone of WAR-TOYS, we also had the opportunity to meet with the same groups of children over multiple sessions. It was an amazing opportunity to better know the children, provide more therapeutic activities, and see their progress. I look forward to sharing the results.