Each year on September 21st, the United Nations recognizes the International Day of Peace. For the past several years, MAP has sponsored events around Lebanon joining in the global celebrations.
In 2015, MAP hosted an event under the patronage of Saida’s Municipality and in collaboration with the Blue Mission Organization and the Development for People and Nature Association observing the International Day of Peace. Over 150 people gathered in the Municipality’s Hall on Sunday September 27th, 2015 for three hours of “Music as a tool for peace”.
Ms. Vanessa Bassil, Founder, President and Executive Director of MAP, opened the day with an introductory speech asserting that “Saida is a city that deserves life, joy and peace and that many of its young citizens are working against violence to spread love instead of hate. This celebration is a chance for them to showcase their talents. Since the Medias mostly broadcast scenes of conflict and violence in Saida, we are standing here today to show that there is hope for this city, and that we came from all over Lebanon to show our support and to celebrate, with its inhabitants, moments of joy and peace through art, which is a collective language.”
Ms. Adila Al Nahouli, Blue Mission Organization Representative, insisted that “where there is hope, the best is achieved, goodness is spread and destruction is abolished.” Ms. Hiba Antoun, Development for People and Nature Association Representative, argued that “we need to walk the path of peace, as it is the salvation for a better life.”
After the inspiring opening remarks, a special, varied talent show began. Singers, dancers and musicians from Saida as well as Ain Al Helwe, a nearby Palestinian camp, performed. The three hours were filled with diverse sounds as “Heart Rhythm” performed occidental songs, “Sawt Al Shaab” rapped, “Zaytouna” danced to folkloric and popular music and “Lagee” presented a diversity of talents.
At the end of the evening, attendees were asked to join in. Everyone responded to the question “What does peace mean to you?” on a white sign. Answers varied from happiness, collaboration, love, inner peace, life, Palestine, and a new Lebanon. The community-created sign is displayed in Saida’s public library as a memorial of the International Day of Peace celebration.