- Title: With 'love, warmth and food', Lebanese celebrate Christmas in hard times
- Date: 24th December 2019
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (DECEMBER 23, 2019) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) VARIOUS OF COOKS AND VOLUNTEERS SERVING FOOD AT CHARITY CHRISTMAS DINNER IN MARTYRS' SQUARE COOK FILLING BOWLS OF TRADITIONAL LEBANESE DISH CALLED ''FREEKEH'' MADE OF CRACKED WHEAT AND ROAST CHICKEN WOMAN CARRYING TRAY FULL OF FOOD PLATES / PEOPLE GATHERING AROUND PLACE WHERE FOOD IS SERVED (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ORGANISER OF CHARITY DINNER, ASMA ANDRAOS, SAYING: "(We organised this dinner) on the occasion of Christmas because Christmas is a season for giving and joy. Due to the difficult financial situation of many of our fellow citizens in Lebanon, we decided to organise this dinner, we called it Christmas dinner in the square.'' VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CARRYING PLATES OF FOOD AND WALKING AROUND SQUARE VARIOUS OF CHRISTMAS TREE INSPIRED BY PROTEST MOVEMENT IN MARTYRS' SQUARE / PEOPLE GATHERING AROUND TREE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ORGANISER OF CHARITY DINNER, ASMA ANDRAOS, SAYING: ''We sent to all the charities in Lebanon, to Daleel Madani, Daleel Al Thawra, we spoke to the clerics in mosques, with priests in the congregations, and we told them. It is an open invitation, whoever likes to come tonight and have a little bit of love, a little bit of warmth and little bit of good food, so we can celebrate all together.'' VARIOUS OF PEOPLE SITTING ON LARGE TABLES SPREAD OUT AT SQUARE TO EAT (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ORGANISER OF CHARITY DINNER, ASMA ANDRAOS, SAYING: ''We wanted 150 people (volunteers) and more than 400 showed up. We are going through very hard times so we have to stick together, those who can must help those who can't in these times which we hope will end soon so we can endure it with our heads held up high.'' VARIOUS OF PEOPLE EATING AT CHARITY DINNER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PROTESTER CAMPING IN MARTYRS' SQUARE SINCE OCTOBER, ZAHED ZOGHEIB, SAYING: ''We are here with the guys doing nothing. What work is there to do? Did they leave us with any job opportunities? There is nothing. They killed all our dreams. They killed the dreams of every Lebanese young man and woman.'' WOMAN SERVING DRINKS MAN EATING PEOPLE EATING VOLUNTEER CARRYING TRAY FULL OF FOOD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PROTESTER CAMPING IN MARTYRS' SQUARE SINCE OCTOBER, ZAHED ZOGHEIB, SAYING: ''What we ate, is as you can see, it is not important. Whatever it is, what is more important is us getting together, this division is hard to happen, they can't divide us." VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS CARRYING TRAYS OF FOOD AND SERVING FOOD TO PEOPLE VARIOUS OF PLATES OF TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CAKE CALLED BUCHE BEING SERVED MAN EATING PEOPLE CARRYING PLATES OF BUCHE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VOLUNTEER, CYRIL BADAWI, SAYING: ''We are on night away from Christmas Eve so the least we can do is to share and spread the love and spread solidarity and try our best to stand together so we can really feel that we are in a society that can provide at least a warm meal and a nice meal for someone who really in need." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE EATING WOMAN POURING DRINK VARIOUS OF CROWDS GATHERING UNDER CHRISTMAS TREE
- Embargoed: 7th January 2020 13:41
- Keywords: Charity dinner Christmas celebrations Christmas season in Lebanon Protests in Lebanon
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Society/Social Issues,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001BBC3V4L
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Volunteers at Beirut's Martyrs Square, a focal point of anti-government protests since October, served up some Christmas cheer on Monday (December 23) as the country faces difficult times.
With protests that sometimes turned violent, an unprecedented economic crisis and political uncertainty, many Lebanese say there is little reason to be cheerful this year.
But Asma Andraos, a long time event organiser in Lebanon, believed otherwise.
Andraos said she and a group of volunteers came with an idea to bring together Lebanese from all walks of life in the symbolic Martyrs' Square to provide ''a little bit of love, a little bit of warmth and a little bit of good food'' to some of those who need it this year.
Bowls of hot roasted chicken and cracked smoked wheat called Freekeh were served up by the cooks of Tawlet, a restaurant that employs cooks, chefs and farmers from all over the country.
They all gathered in a tent in the square next to the giant Christmas tree inspired by the uprising which erupted in October.
Among them was protester Zahed Zogheib, who said he and many Lebanese feel that their dreams have been crushed by the political system of the past decades.
For dessert, platefuls of the traditional Christmas Buche De Noel were passed around under the tree with Christmas music playing in the background.
Lebanon is suffering its worst economic crisis, rooted in decades of state corruption and waste, since the 1975-1990 civil war, leaving streets dimmer and shopping centres emptier, with many stores and restaurants void of customers.
The economic woes have sparked huge protests against the ruling elite, banks are imposing capital controls, pressure has piled on the pegged Lebanese pound, and a hard currency crunch has pushed importers to hike prices.
(Production: Alaa Kanaan, Ayat Basma, Ahmed al Kurdi)
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