BEIRUT: Beirut Sunday saw the launch of the Dafa campaign for the fifth consecutive year. The campaign aims to help those in need against the backdrop of an economic and financial crisis plaguing the country. The organization, founded by MP Paula Yacoubian in 2015, received donations of blankets, heaters, clothing, food, electronics and other items at Forum de Beyrouth.
Nada Hamzeh, the campaign’s media coordinator, said Dafa avoided its usual location of Martyrs’ Square owing to rain and the potentially unstable situation in that area.
“We are in need of food donations the most, since that is the priority for most people - especially as the situation gets worse,” Hamzeh said.
Dafa runs its annual campaign every December, but operates and receives donations throughout the year. The organization provides aid for all people in need, including Lebanese citizens and refugees.
Yacoubian, who was present at the donation drive, told The Daily Star she had not expected to see so many volunteers or so many donations. She also referred to the current situation as some of “the hardest circumstances the Lebanese have ever lived through.”
“We don’t have a state, but we have a people who are worth all the countries in the world, who help each other and stand by each other,” she said.
According to Hamzeh, around 300 volunteers, in addition to students and children accompanied by their parents, were present, giving their time to the donation drive. The campaign’s slogan translates to “Because we only have each other.”
Kids brought their toys to donate and mothers brought some of their food supply from home.
A man who declined to be identified said he came to the Dafa campaign for help as he has been out of work for months now and has no money to provide food for his family.
In the five years since it was founded, the campaign, Hamzeh said, has helped more than 100,000 families. Dafa uses trucks to distribute aid across the country.
“This year people have also offered to partner with us and manage a campaign in Tripoli,” she added.
Members of the Lebanese diaspora can also contribute to the Dafa campaign through noknok grocery delivery app, which allows “Dafa boxes” containing pre-selected food items to be purchased and donated.
Dafa also partnered with the ride-booking app Careem, through which customers can book a car and give the driver the items they wished to donate. The items were then delivered to Forum de Beyrouth.
The venue also hosted a sculpture made from of recycled materials by Pierre Abboud, the Emirati-based artist behind the “Revolution is Female” statue in Martyr’s Square. Titled simply “We are family” the work shows a family, standing hand in hand, with the Lebanese flag.
“It’s a good message, especially with the Dafa campaign,” said Abboud, adding that everyone in Lebanon is standing and facing the country’s problems together.