An Ode to Syria - notes and photos

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Information about An Ode to Syria - notes and photos

Published on March 14, 2014

Author: rchakaki



2013 in quotes and photos - A Syrian's perspective on home with speaker notes - change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

Every december, I leave dubai and find a place in nature to look back at the year and recall highlights. I see a reel of images, encounters, numbers and quotes that inspire me to plan ahead. In light of the events in the region, and our work with non-profits and social businesses 2013 was both a productive and emotional year.

2013 in quotes & photos I share with you quotes, photos and stories that inspired us to do more, give more and recognize the amazing change makers among us. I share them to remind us there is baraka in doing good.. it doesn’t always become apparent.. but it happens

–John Sculley Apple CEO “The future comes to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”

BOKSHA - VOLUNTEER TOURISM in the UAE in 2012 I met the talented Muna at the Dubai 4 Acumen social enterprise competition. Muna and her partner Nujood won first place for their volunteer tourism project BOKSHA.

A week later she rounded up a team of volunteers and took us to Masafi and Fujairah… where she surprised us with a volunteer initiatives that went beyond what I considered reasonable…

22m I found myself diving in the most polluted waters in the dibbah port where fishermen throw the unwanted fish along with all the trash from their trips. I couldn’t see my dive buddy in 1 meter of water. We had fun, but I sensed Muna’s friendship will be hard work.. I never imagined how high she would raise the bar.

Nor did I imagine that her next volunteer tourism project will be to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. And she makes it look like so much fun! she saw the possilbities this year, she acted and challenged us all to do the same.

― Baba Dioum ‫وقبائل‬ ‫شعوبا‬ ‫“وجعلناكم‬ ‫تعالى‬ ‫قال‬ ”‫لتعارفوا‬ “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only ”what we understand. a few years ago, i took a trip with a christian palestinian friend a philanthropist with an Aloyat friend to Ein elTineh.. Until then I had never visited the syrian coast line.. i was stunned

45k from Latakia.. we approached a region I can only liken to Switzerland

I fell in love with it.. and wanted to learn more..

how people managed to get up that high during ancient times is beyond me. The citadel Salaah ElDine stands tall overlooking the Mediteranean.

every corner is a natural gem

The people of Ein ElTineh, and all Alowy village were so hospitable..older women cooked an amazing lunch for us,

elderly men talked of history, poetry, unity and their displeasure with the sectarian divides.

in 2013 - I met with Ghimar who came to collect a shipment of clothes to distribute to Zaatari and other Syrians in Jordan. I listened to the tragedies that had befallen their family and countless others on the coast line. He lost 2 brothers .. civilians.. shot at close range. Mass graves of hundreds of men. Women and children left without income, education, social services or heating fuel. We reminisced briefly about our time in Ein Eltinh..

We put a plan to turn his home and land to a shelter and community center. Through the internet and international volunteers, we plan to deliver support services, mentoring, education to the orphans and widows of Ein Eltineh. It is our obligation to forget sectarianism and focus on humanism. Get to know the place and the people.. ‫اهلل‬ ‫عند‬ ‫أكرمكم‬ ‫إن‬ . that same morning I received news of 1.3 m dollars raised for another cause we are working with.. baraka.

- Eddie Adams ! ! “If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture” May 2013 - A few years back I read this quote in the US National Newseum photography exhibit section. Since then, I’ve been so conscious of the emotional value of photography. Over the past year, like all Syrians I’ve been bombarded with horrific images of violence, pain, suffering, anger, violations of human dignity.

I avoid these images like the plague, because I firmly believe they leave a print of hatred in our minds and hearts. They prevent us from seeing prospects of peace, hope and love. I chose peace and chose to see the syria I remember and want to rebuild.

images that make me smile.. In march, I came across an image with a simple message on Facebook that had me crying. hard as i thought there wasn't anything I can do so little for this young girl

Mariam’s father has been in a Syrian prison for 5 months and 20 days. Mariam is counting! Her message is a simple prayer for his safe return. Her father is a civilian who ran a children’s clothing factory. A father of four beautiful children, husband to an amazing woman and a man dedicated to serving the less fortunate. The only thing I can do for Maryam is spread her beautiful message of a simple, sweet wish. Her and her father’s smiles are so peaceful and beautiful. Please join me in praying for his safe return. ‫فبقلبه‬ ‫يستطع‬ ‫لم‬ ‫فإن‬ ،‫فبلسانه‬ ‫يستطع‬ ‫لم‬ ‫فإن‬ ،‫بيده‬ ‫فليغيره‬ ‫منكرا‬ ‫منكم‬ ‫رأى‬ ‫،من‬ . her mom contacted me to thank.. reporting he was back… i would like to believe that our positive wishes helped.. at least in making maria and her mom know they were not alone.

–Prophet Mohamad PBUH ”‫كهاتني‬ ‫الجنة‬ ‫في‬ ‫اليتيم‬ ‫وكافل‬ ‫“أنا‬ .‫بالسبابة‬ ‫وأشار‬ “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him will be in paradise like this.” As highlights go, this has to be the highest.. because I started the year haunted by the thought of kids..

I had volunteered w Dar Zaid and met the Maryam, adham and wael in Syria. I thought of them throughout 2012.. and dedicated 2013 to them.. Being on the board of several Palestinan charities and helping kids.. I felt useless towards syrian children. ! One August morning felt particularly heavy. I woke up at dawn, and prayed for the life of Amir Bedier. A man I had only heard of yesterday, when his brother and my friend Ahmed sent out this message: “Urgent please make dua for my brother Amir, who was just shot in the chest inside the Rabaa protest in Cairo.” ! Moments after prayer, another message came through: “My brother Amir Bedier has returned to Our Lord. To Allah we belong and to Allah is the return. Amir was shot and killed by Egyptian police forces in Rabaa square today. He was fasting and unarmed. He left behind a wife, two children. A stream of condolences followed. ! “‫راجعون‬ ‫إليه‬ ‫إنا‬ ‫و‬ ‫هلل‬ ‫..”إنا‬ “we are for Allah and for Allah we shall return”. The only consoling words. We are all destined for death..

My thoughts were on his children and widow, and the heart wrenching pain they are feeling. I felt the emptiness and loneliness they will experience when the anger and sadness lifts and they realize he is gone forever. ! His seat at dinner is empty, he’s not there to take them to Friday prayer or school Parent conferences. Seeing fathers supporting their children, hugging them, even reprimanding them becomes all they see around. Thoughts of “what would he have done” become questions that can never be answered.

The events of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine are creating generations of orphans who are left with scarred childhoods. Their psychology and emotional state is forever altered. Their economic status will never be the same. Many are catapulted into poverty. !

It is the way of the world, and there will be a tomorrow. A tomorrow with orphans places an added responsibility on the rest of society; on us.. me and you…

! a responsibility to give beyond reason, !

to obsess about their rights and privileges, !

to include their plans in our personal, family and community plans. !

We have to remember them when we are celebrating because they have non to celebrate with, !

when we are traveling and they are unable to leave their camps or disadvantaged lives, !

find ways to turn our news, billboards, internet sites and every medium we have to serve them.

we want to give them reason to smile.. and look towards a bright future. !

I wrote that post as a declaration of what I am committed to, and a reminder to those who care to have a peaceful balanced world. The emotional and economic deficit born in the lives of orphans is our collective responsibility. Their security is the accountability of each and every one of us. That evening, I received word that 3 scholarships were allocated for orphaned students. baraka

–Muhammad Ali “It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.” the next quote i was reminded of in 2013 was by ali the boxing champ..

looking at the Syrian crisis through the eyes of the media and NGOS.. It is easy to loose faith. They remind us constantly of how big the goal is..

every stat is more demoralizing.. I know they mean well.. and perhaps are looking to inspire us..

but these images are paralyzing for most. ! The thought of going to a refugee camp to help is a mission (unless you’re muna elHareb).. so instead of filling your self with doubt and fear.. add a dose of courage and belief in…

I invite you to take a second look at Syria and its people.. the oldest continuously inhabited capital The city of Jasmine.. believe can be peaceful again..

Palmyra dating back to the 4th century BC.. believe it will be a tourism site not a torture site..

We take pride in our sects and a common belief that we are all one and the best among us are the ones who fear god and respect humans

The old city is home to the tombs of greats like SalaahElDine, Sayeda Rukaia and Moawiah the first Khalifa who’s buried in a Christina home. The world monument fund is concerned about its sustainlbity.. we maintained diversity for thousands of years.. we still can..

Ours is a world of wonder and contradictions. Our crazy lingerie merchants have inspired coffee table books by artists and are talked about on 2 million pages on the internet. believe that these crazy merchants and others like them will thrive once again.

The citadel of Aleppo, place to the Ottomans stood on the silk road.. much like dubai is now the link between east and west. Believe we will rebuild Allepo

our galleries are now empty, art has been transported to galleries around the world

Hama, where our family is from.. endured unthinkable crimes in the 80s and bounced back.. we are raising a fund to rebuild our hospitals and schools

Our craftsmen and women are spreading their trades across the world and earning high salaries for it. They’re so good that some find them a threat on host country economies and are looking for ways to learn from them.

Syria’s stunning architecture.. Beit rummana.. is now home to 50 refugee families every month. housing the displaced until they can get on their feet.

Go online and see the efforts by organizations to connect and collaborate.. believe they will prevail and join them

18m in diaspora We’re a populations of 18m in the dasipora.. a people that produced presidents for Argentina.. believe we can have a government

1m in USA Actors, Queens and businessmen in America

18m in diaspora Poets and singers who inspired generations

Dr. Rasheed Qabbani, Nizar’s brother May Allah bless his soul was a syrian diplomat in the 60s. Last October he said: “I’m optimistic.. we have seen worse.. Focus on rebuilding and remember, you come from a lineage of resilient people”. and so looking ahead… we acted on empowering the causes we work with to start from a place of strength, belief, and hope for a better future.

‫عنه‬ ‫اهلل‬ ‫رضي‬ ‫الخطاب‬ ‫بن‬ ‫-عمر‬ “‫بتركه‬ ‫الباطل‬ ‫بذكره..وأميتوا‬ ‫الحق‬ ‫أحيوا‬ ” If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories. If you want to change a culture, change the stories. - anonymous I would like you to consider this.. Modern day science and traditions call on us to guard our senses from all negativity and focus on the positive. yet we give ourselves a daily dose of poison every time we watch the news.

Especially when it comes to news about the middle east. do a little test.. get a blood pressure monitor and gauge your BP before and after the news.. you’ll get the scientific proof for how you're debilitating yourself every time you watch.

Demoralizing Poor Digital Design External Narrative Reactive Negative Ironic Angry Pessimistic Fragmented Gloomy Fear Polluted Reactive Repetitive Agenda Driven MENA news coverage today An agenda driven external narrative that is reactive and demoralizing presented through poor digital design leaving us hopeless and defeated. To give: you have to feel good about yourself and recognize that you’re not alone.. others are out there doing their part.. so we imagined a different narrative..

Intelligent Positive Local Narrative Fruitful Sustainable Spirited Hopeful Collaborative Inspirational HappyHealthy Traditional Uplifting Relevant Good A positive local narrative that is intelligent and sustainable uplifting us with hope and inspiring us to make a difference.

We created a channel that delivers Exclusively good news from the Middle East.. Through 11 contributors, we have reached 26,000 readers from 136 countries in 6 months. And we are flooded many more stories and requests to support. and how they all like Khalil, the first double amputee diver, overcome the daunting daily challenges they face simply because they live in Gaza. It’s true that Khalil’s relentless drive to succeed is what mainly lead him to his accomplishments but who would have known of his bravery that could inspire many more children to take on their challenges if there wasn’t news source to share his story. Khalil was one of the reasons that inspired my sister Rama to start her good news blog.

Rainbow stairs for a call for equal rights in Syria… ! parkouring a form of gymnastics leaves people breathless Street festival in Palestine Planting a green wall in Kuwait Kindergartens in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan A shelter for abused dogs and cats in Qatar Celebrating a legendary river in Iraq Women cycling campaign against harassment

The talented Hisham Alfaqeeh who delighted us and challenged us with his video No Woman no Drive.

And last but not least, breathing warmth into their hearts.. Muna ElHarb which brings me to my last quote and photos set of 2013

‫السالم‬ ‫عليه‬ ‫محمد‬ - ” َ‫َّاس‬‫ن‬‫ال‬ ُ‫ر‬ُ‫ك‬ ْ‫ش‬َ‫ي‬ َ‫ال‬ ْ‫ن‬َ‫م‬ ََّ‫هلل‬‫ا‬ ُ‫ر‬ُ‫ك‬ ْ‫ش‬َ‫ي‬ َ‫“ال‬ Gratitude is the best attitude. being grateful for what I have has given me abundance and much more.. here my gratitude goes to Muna

and the amazing team who made her vision possible.. the entertainers of this event, the planning committee and you for being here.

And so I thank every volunteer from the UAE who went with you..

I thank Azza and others who supported you with innovation and creativity including those who made this event possible.

I thank the UAE organizations that made your efforts possible.

I can’t tell you how happy i was to see the trucks arrive and proud i was to see that sign put up..

Muna On behalf of my Syrian sisters and brothers.. i thank you for showing us the faces behind the numbers .. you challenged those of us abroad to have courage and act.. you have touched our lives.

#live2give in 2014 Dare to solve big problems.. Baraka Advisors other far less creative, less fortunate, less equipped people have.. you can too. Have a good evening and Baraka Allah Fiekom. help us raise millions and support millions more.

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