Meet the group aiming to ensure no child is left behind in Tripoli this Ramadan

Volunteers look to empower underprivileged children through storytelling and education

Dozens of underprivileged children attend the storytelling event held in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. Photo: We love Tripoli
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Laughter echoes around the playground at a restaurant in the Lebanese city of Tripoli as 30 children bounce on trampolines, listen to stories and produce drawings of their hopes and dreams.

The joyful noises are a balm to residents of the country's most impoverished city, where Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr treats are hard to come by.

The storytelling event for underprivileged children was held on April 1 and aimed to raise awareness about bullying.

The children, between the ages of seven and 11, were shy at first, but eventually came out of their shells.

“I learnt that we should respect everyone, no matter what makes them different," one boy said after listening to the story.

The event was one of many arranged by We Love Tripoli, a youth-led organisation established in 2009 to promote cultural, social and environmental activities and support underprivileged children in the community.

Its Ramadan events include educational activities and the purchase of Eid clothes, followed by a traditional iftar meal.

Even before the country's financial collapse, Tripoli was gripped by extreme poverty and inequality as a result of decades of negligence by the authorities.

“It is a great opportunity for vulnerable children, who may not have had the chance to celebrate Eid otherwise,” said Hassan, 36, a consultant who has been volunteering with We love Tripoli since it was founded.

“They are not only having fun, but they are also learning. This is a very empowering experience and important to ensure equal opportunities for all."

The activities take place in children's play areas rented by the organisation.

Fund-raising campaigns launched on the social media at the beginning of the holy month help the group to carry out its activities.

The organisation depends on the dedication of about 500 volunteers.

Giving back during Ramadan

About 30 volunteers were involved in the April 1 event, which was also an opportunity for them to give back to their community during the holy month.

Their efforts are all the more meaningful during an economic crisis that has caused 80 per cent of the population to fall below the poverty line.

“Ramadan is a special time and in light of the present difficulties," said Abdulkader, 30, a filmmaker who volunteered with We love Tripoli for the first time.

"We feel an even stronger sense of responsibility to help our community."

Amar, 33, a board member of the organisation, said volunteers and private donors "are demonstrating generosity and motivation" despite the crisis.

We Love Tripoli plans to organise events for the community throughout the year, including awareness workshops, activities for the elderly and photo-shooting excursions in the city.

It also managed a children's centre in Al Mina district, which supports hundreds of children. The centre is currently being relocated.

“Today's beneficiaries were chosen from our pre-existing database using socioeconomic criteria,” Amar said.

For the children who attended, the event was a success.

"We are all neighbours and we used to come to the old centre in Mina. We love it here and always enjoy playing and having fun," said Mohamed, 11.

Updated: April 06, 2023, 7:57 AM