One baklava at a time, Lebanese Quebecers crowdfund for Beirut

One baklava at a time, Lebanese Quebecers crowdfund for Beirut

Ruby Pratka, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Lebanese Quebecers Marie Anne Dayé, Jacques Fadous and the owners of the Patisserie Denis Tannous haven’t forgotten Beirut. They hope their neighbours haven’t either.

On Aug. 2, 2020, an explosion apparently caused by poor storage of a combustible chemical used in fertilizer levelled warehouses in the port of Beirut and caused widespread destruction in surrounding residential areas. Around people were killed, an estimated 6,500 were injured and 300,000 lost their homes, compounding the everyday fear, anger and frustration brought about by inflation and economic and political paralysis.

At the time, Dayé and Fadous organized a vigil outside the National Assembly and encouraged donations to the Lebanese Red Cross and other local humanitarian organizations. Now, they are working with Limoilou-based nonprofit Collaboration Santé Internationale (CSI) to raise money to send a shipping container full of medical supplies for Lebanese hospitals. The Patisserie Denis Tannous in Sainte-Foy is donating one dollar from every box of baklava sold. Dayé said she and Fadous hope to unite Lebanese Quebecers around their project, and encourage people of all backgrounds to contribute what they can.

“Instead of just getting together and saying, ‘We support Lebanon,’ we wanted to do something more concrete,” Dayé said. CSI is a nonprofit specialized in the delivery of medicines and refurbished, used medical supplies to hospitals, clinics and charities in post-conflict countries. “In Lebanon, there is a serious shortage of certain medicines, and people don’t always have the money to buy them, so we figured that [sending] medical supplies would be a good way to help,” she said. CSI is working with two deep- rooted local charities, the Cedars Medical Association and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, to establish what specific supplies are needed; the charities will then distribute the supplies to local hospitals. Dayé and her friends need to raise $15,200 to cover ship- ping costs; as of this writing, they have raised just under $5,500.

Shortly after the explosion, Dayé felt compelled to visit Lebanon, her father’s native country. She is now temporarily living in Beirut, working as a journalist and helping to coordinate the aid effort.

“The situation has deteriorated further here, and I don’t want to say people have forgotten it, but it has been placed on the back burner,” she said. “The economic crisis began in 2019, and since then, inflation has been rising and the Lebanese pound has been losing value. In May 2021, the exchange rate was 12,000 [to the US dollar], in July, 20,000 and now 27,000. Last year, I could get a coffee for 5,000 pounds, and now that same coffee costs 20,000, but people who work here still earn the same salary. Everything’s harder, and even electricity is less available than it once was,” she said.

“There are so many terrible things going on in the world at the moment – the war in Ukraine, for example – but the crisis in Lebanon hasn’t ended.”

Those who wish to donate can do so online via the crowdfunding platform Zeffy. Cash donations can also be dropped in the donation box at Zeitoun Cuisine Libanaise in the Grand Marché.

Editors’ note: This article was updated on June 21, 2022 to reflect updated casualty numbers and clarify that local nonprofits will distribute supplies bought with the funds raised to hospitals in need. 

One baklava at a time, Lebanese Quebecers crowdfund for Beirut was last modified: June 21st, 2022 by QCT Editor

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