Times are tough in Lebanon, but the Lebanese have proven to be a beacon of solidarity and standing tall in the face of a nationwide crisis.
Citizens hit the streets on Oct. 17, 2019 to protest corruption and topple leaders who've been ruling for decades. The protests have been described as the biggest the country has witnessed since 2015, when people protested the ongoing waste management crisis.
On the financial level, people have been hit hard by the three-month-long and counting revolution. The Lebanese lira, pegged to the U.S. dollar at 1,507.5 LBP since 1997, hit 2,400 LBP in the black market in January 2020, with banks refusing to allow their customers the withdrawal of large amounts of dollar banknotes.
The current demonstrations have been remarkable on many levels, with many longtime protesters describing an almost unprecedented sense of unity and conviction among the crowds.
The Lebanese's reputation for being generous precedes them all across the globe, and for good reason. There are undoubtedly hundreds of small and local businesses offering their resources and help on the down-low, but here are just a few of those we've seen or heard of:
1. A Lebanese bakery offering free food coupons for anyone who chooses to donate
"Feed others from your own fortune," reads the headline pinned to the board at the entrance of Croissant Saab in Malla, Beirut.
"If you want to feed someone needy, add a small amount of money to your bill and pin it to the board," explains the description. "You're generous, and in this way, you'll be catering to others from your own fortune."
The exact location of the bakery is pinned on Google Maps.
This simple act of charity through donating any amount of money your budget allows can go a long way, and perhaps even be someone's first and only meal of the day.
In the picture attached to the tweet, 10 coupons can be seen pinned to the board, ready to be used by whoever needs one.
2. Al Hallab Sweets in Tripoli offering free meals or any form of help to whoever is in need
In a Facebook post on their official page, Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons announced they're willing to secure free meals or any form of help to anyone who calls the number included in the post in any area across Lebanon.
The esteemed dessert shop and wholesale bakery also distributed knefeh to over 10,000 people protesting in Tripoli in October 2019.
3. A Facebook group that reignited the troc (barter) system
LibanTroc - translates to "Lebanon Barter" - is a group that was created on Facebook for all those in need and those who can help.
The Lebanese have been showing their true face during these tough times, and thousands of experiences are shared on this group. From cancer meds to clothes for babies or the elderly, whoever has the means to help posts and waits for the one in need to claim the goods/services offered.
Many have since been employed, have found a free home for their family to live in, have been given medications that cost millions of Lebanese Lira, and so on.
4. Multiple legal professionals offering protesters their services for free
The Legal Agenda, The Lebanese Labor Watch, and The Lawyers Committee called upon all protestors to save their numbers, and for others who are harmed to get in touch for help.
KAFA Violence & Exploitation, a non-profit, non-governmental civil society organization, also announced their willingness to take on any cases that come their way.
5. A huge number of doctors proved their true humanitarian nature by announcing free consultations
A union for doctors to protect protestors was created and broadcasted on Daleel Thawra - the revolution's biggest directory of initiatives - with a hotline attached.
Another group of doctors also joined protestors at one point and announced free consultations for anyone who calls a hotline number or visits the Université Saint Joseph (USJ) campus.
6. While not exactly a business, one doctor installed a prosthetic for a protestor with an amputated leg
Mohammad Al Zoghbi didn't know it then and there when he was sweeping the floor of a protesting square, but shortly after a picture of him circulated online, he became the symbol of the revolution. The photo clearly depicting the protestor sweeping the streets of Tripoli despite standing on one leg was later shared by a Lebanese doctor on his own Facebook page with a call for help in the caption.
"If this young man wants, and accepts, and allows me, I would like to take care of installing a prosthetic for him, I am ready for this duty. Anyone who knows how to reach this decent person, contact me so we can start with the necessary procedures," wrote Dr. Raed Lattouf, a cosmetic dentist who owns a clinic in Sin El Fil, Beirut.
And sure enough, the man was found and identified. On Dec. 14, we saw Al Zoghbi walking on both legs, side by side with Dr. Raed Lattouf, with a smile grinning from ear to ear.
"Riding a motorcycle was a dream," wrote Al Zoghbi on a Facebook video of him riding one. "God bless Dr. Raed Lattouf."
7. Virgin Radio Lebanon supporting Lebanese products and businesses by promoting them for free
"In these difficult times, unity is our strongest tool and we all need to be doing our part in supporting Lebanese businesses," reads the caption on Virgin Radio's Instagram post.
By simply sending the radio station a WhatsApp message or an email, they'll get the word out for free and let their listeners know of any business operating or manufacturing in Lebanon.