“Global Aid for Lebanon” Surpasses $1 Million in Donations in Just Ten Days
By: Maria Yepez/Arab America Contributing Writer
On the afternoon of Aug. 4, the picturesque Beirut, Lebanon, was suddenly reduced to buildings and businesses in ruins and unrecognizable streets after a massive explosion in the port. Hundreds of Lebanese people died and disappeared, while thousands of others were wounded. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented injured people from receiving proper medical care; hospitals that were not affected by the explosion had difficulty caring for both the wounded and the other sick.
The destruction of the port and damage caused by the explosion made many jobless and homeless. For that reason, CEO of XO, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, along with Global Citizen, Red Cross Lebanon, the Children’s Cancer Center Lebanon (CCCL) and World Food Program USA collaborated to launch “Global Aid for Lebanon,” in an effort to provide support and raise funds for the victims of the Beirut explosion.
Global Citizen, described as the world’s largest movement of engaged citizens, urges the global community to stand in solidarity with Lebanon, reinforcing the importance of acting quickly and generously. The campaign started Aug. 10, and kicked off with a $250,000 donation by Wassim Slaiby and Rima Fakih Slaiby, who are both Lebanon natives. As of Aug. 25, #GlobalAidForLebanon had received more than $1.2 million in cash and pledges, exceeding $1 million in donations just ten days after its launching. Hundreds of donors have contributed, and the help doesn’t stop pouring in.
The Slaiby Family
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Wassim Slaiby, who is also known as “Sal” in the music industry, is a Lebanese-Canadian artist manager and record producer that works with renowned celebrities such as The Weeknd, French Montana and Lebanese-Canadian Massari. Aside from his successful career, Slaiby also dedicates his life to philanthropy, and serves as a board member of Global Citizen.
Slaiby recently helped raise more than $100K to alleviate hunger due to COVID-19 in Lebanon. Motivated by an article he read that reported that 75 percent of Lebanon’s population needed help during the pandemic, he started a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $100K in less than 24 hours.
In 2016, Wassim Slaiby married Rima Fakih, a Lebanese-American actress and model who became the first Arab-American Miss USA in 2010. Fakih was also a key actor in launching “Global Aid for Lebanon.” She currently holds the title of ambassador for the Children’s Cancer Center in Lebanon, which is one of the partnering organizations in this campaign.
“The heartbreak of a nation, our beloved nation, will always be within our hearts. The war forced us to leave and we cannot sit idly by and ignore clear cries for help,” Rima Fakih Slaiby said.
Wassim and Rima Slaiby, who migrated in search of a better life at a young age, are only two of the millions of Lebanese who, even though they are far away from their homeland, still experience the sorrow of the Beirut tragedy.
“The massive destruction scenes brought back to my memory the hard times I experienced with my parents during the war and that forced me to leave Lebanon at an early age following the loss of my dad. I urge you all to take part in the ‘Global Aid for Lebanon’ campaign to raise funds and support for the region,” Wassim Slaiby said when announcing the campaign along with his wife.
Other Artists Stand in Solidarity With Beirut
In addition to the Slaiby family, other famous celebrities have expressed their desire to help by donating such as The Weeknd, who donated $300 thousands to the cause. Aside from donations, artists have also taken upon themselves the task of using their large platforms to urge people to provide aid to Lebanon.
Pop singer Mika, of Lebanese heritage, posted a letter on his social media last Monday, in which he pleaded for help for the Lebanese people.
“I know your resilience, your strength and your solidarity, nurtured by your mix of cultures, by this special place you occupy, half way between the Arab world and Europe. Tomorrow, you will rise up as you have always done before. Music will pour once again from your windows, people will dance on your terraces and perfumes will waft from your kitchens,” said Mika in his emotive letter to Lebanon.
The devastating explosion in Beirut displaced and wounded thousands, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of which organization we choose to make a donation to, the Slaiby family in collaboration with Global Citizen emphasizes the importance of supporting the Lebanese people in the aftermath of this tragedy.
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