Sowing Seeds of Peace.
"It's Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting). We'll host a public iftar (special evening meal to break the fast) in the street right where the fighting took place. We'll invite a thousand people from both sides to defuse the violence! We must do it this week!"
They flew into action, securing donated food to serve a thousand. But without a network there, how could they get people to come? Youth volunteers went door-to-door, inviting each one face-to-face, trying to craft a fragile trust and overcome bitterness.
|Youth volunteers preparing for iftar.|
Then when one front door swung open, one of the volunteers was stunned speechless.
Building Trust with Living Stones.
"Their house was totally burned out in the firefight. A father with his daughter and son lost everything but their lives. Even their roof had caved in. We must do something!"
This devastating tragedy was the perfect opportunity to take action to earn trust. They took the decision on the spot - they would re-build this family's home, working shifts day and night. Cell phones buzzed, and dozens of volunteers of all Lebanon's backgrounds converged to restore that home, that family, and that neighborhood across lines of division and violence.
The building project spoke volumes to that community. And at the public feast to break the fast, hundreds of people responded to the invitation to sit down and eat together again, starting the process of turning adversaries back into neighbors. It became front-page news in every paper in town.
When we finally arrived on the work site, it was 9:30 p.m. The streets were completely dark. Few people were out. The area seemed deserted. We slowly made our way down an alley to a dead end. We got out of our taxi and walked tentatively toward some lights. We were greeted by a young man who led us down a footpath. The area opened up to a small building with charred walls and no roof.
Injecting Hope through Values in Action.
The homeowner and his neighbor were gushing with praise, "They said they would come help. We doubted that. But the night of the public feast they started work. And they have kept coming every day. They live their values. I've never seen anything like this!"
The impact of these volunteer values of love, forgiveness, and respect in action?
- A neighborhood on the verge of all-out civil war sat down to share a meal together.
- Neighborhood youth jumped in to work alongside the volunteers from other places.
- Community leaders confirmed that sustained service relationships bring people together.
Enduring Sacrifice as an Act of Passion.
Melhem sums up their commitment, "Our aim is to gather the entire Lebanese family as a treasure for humanity by serving with and for the Other. Our patience will endure longer than any division. We will not be overcome by evil, but we will overcome evil with good."
|Volunteer clearing debris.|
These are the type of dreamers we strengthen. Those with passion: enduring sacrifice. Ordinary people with extraordinary passion tackling seemingly impossible odds. A little bit of help from you and us makes all the difference.
Look for our next letter and be prepared to dream and act again with us. We just found our next dreamer. Let's keep joining hands to "overcome evil with good."