DW heads to LEbanon

 

Bertie Lumsden, DW’s Head of Charity,  is currently working on the ground in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon with our partner charity Salam LADC for the next three weeks. He will be joined next week by nine other committee members where they will be assisting in aid distribution and long term education projects. 

The team will be sending in updates, photographs, and journals which you can follow on our website as well as the DONT WALK Facebook page. 

 

 

 

December 31, 2016

NYE

Bertie Lumsden

Last night we were invited to spend new years eve with the Abuhazem family. Their hospitality was humbling as we sat on cushions in their tent around a small stove enjoying the food of their homeland. 

As the year came to a close we exchanged stories. They spoke of their life in Homs, of the thousands of young men and women at the beginning of the protests walking in the streets with olive branches; tasting a freedom they had never before known. They told of how, on the 18th of April 2011 at 1:30am, Assad’s forces surrounded the protesters in the clock square of Homs and opened fire, the sounds they heard as tens of thousands died, of their helplessness as the mosque’s called out for people to help yet they found themselves without the means to do so; facing only their own death. Once the shooting stopped, the soldiers stabbed anyone still alive. Dumping the bodies in mass graves they washed away the blood with firehoses. Syria is no home for them while Assad still rules.

I told them of my cousin, who having been captured by Germans in World War II was force marched the length of Italy then escaped from his concentration camp and lived in hiding in Italy for a year, only to be re-captured and transported back down Italy, was one day lined up on the platform of a train station with the other prisoners when an Italian women with a baby threw a loaf of bread towards him. The loaf was caught by the man stood next to him. Without hesitation the SS soldier guarding them drew his pistol and shot him before turning and shooting the woman. The eyes of that soldier was something my cousin could never forget. Many years later my cousin, having moved with his family to start a farm in South Africa went to the local supermarket and there at the checkout were the very same eyes. My cousin went to a friend of his who was the chief of police and told him what had happened, his friend told him it was in the past and there was nothing to be done. Two weeks later the cashier was killed in an armed robbery.

‘It is god’s justice’ they say. I can’t help but wonder what justice this life holds for them. 

I came to realize their lives were lived through stories. And how, even here in Bekka in a tent of wood and tarpaulin, with warmth, humility and love they had made a home and kept the spirit of their way of life alive.

The new year was heralded by gunfire and fireworks. A few months earlier a boy had been killed by a falling bullet so we stayed inside. Setting of a few we had brought ourselves later for the kids.

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January 8, 2017

 

This week we were with Salam as they launched the Salamat bus project. A mobile and interactive classroom that enables Salam and a team of volunteers to provide support as well as a diversity of learning environments to the local schools. The bus also enables Salam to reach children in settlements that would not otherwise have any access to education.

English, Maths, and Arabic are all taught using interactive tablets and games. The transformation in the spirits of the children was amazing as sullen faces turned into a bus full of brilliant smiles and giggles.'

 

 

 

January 16, 2017

Yesterday we helped Salam run a pop-up clothes store at Gharsseh for the parents and children who attend. Gharsseh, was set up and run by Syrian refugee women; many living in the same settlements as their students. The school provides primary school education for refugee children as well as women’s empowerment courses and is an essential part of the community. At the pop-up distribution donated items are hung on racks so refugees can choose for themselves the clothes that best suit them. Below are some of their picks and why they chose them. Some women asked to remain anonymous.

Our charities

 

The Robin Hood Foundation is the worlds leading organisation fighting poverty in New York. Its unique approach to aid allocation, using investment metrics and strict financial transparency, ensures that 100% of donations are used to directly fund projects and with maximum efficiency. To date it has raised more then $1.95bn, and annually funds over 240 programs working to tackle all forms and underlying causes of poverty; from education to food and housing, providing New Yorks’ most impoverished citizens with the tools they need to build better lives. DONT WALK to date has raised over £50,000 for The Robin Hood Foundation and is delighted to continue our support for a third year.

As well as our continued support for The Robin Hood Foundation, this year DONT WALK is working on a groundbreaking partnership with Salam LADC in Lebanon to provide long-term education, social, and welfare assistance to thousands of refugees. Working innovatively with local communities and volunteers, Salam guarantees 100% of its funding goes directly to those who most need it, as well as promoting community relations at a time when they are severely strained by growing competition for aid and employment. As part of this new partnership a team of DONT WALK committee members and models will be volunteering with Salam in Lebanon in January.

 

Having raised over £220,000 since its inception sixteen years ago, DONT WALK is enthusiastic to add to its fundraising total in support of these two incredible charities both of which effect progress with the purest of motivations. 

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one million miles for ellie

In addition to our two charities,  DONT WALK is working together with FS in a unique partnership to support 1 Million Miles for Ellie, a campaign founded to inspire others and ‘destroy cancer’ after the tragic death of former St. Andrews student Ellie Macdonald. The campaign aims to raise £1m for cancer charities, in 1 million minutes, whilst inspiring people to challenge themselves by collectively contributing 1 million miles. DONT WALK and FS are working together to contribute 1000 miles and raise money, by walking part of the Fife Coastal Path.