Well dear, as you may recall from your “Revolutionary Guards” days (China’s not Iran’s), on page 37 of his Little Red Book, Chairman Mao Zedong presented his thoughts that, “There is politics in every aspect of life,” even how you comb your hair, dress, make love etc. I am inclined to agree with the Great Helmsman as he became known.
So we at Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) have decided to shift our food purchases policy, partly, admittedly for political reasons, to help Syrian and Palestinian shop owners in Shatila, Burj El Barajneh and Mar Elias refugee camps. Explanatory photos below.
For large produce purchases we will stick with our friend Mustafa, who I saw yesterday at his Beirut Wholesale Market outlet. But given that our meals average around 150-175 per event, and given a modest budget so far, I think it makes sense to buy from refugees in the three Beirut refugee camps. They give us a good price and as the photos below show, the meat and poultry, like their fruits and vegetables, could not be fresher and hence they are more nutritious for the kids. I trust you agree with our amended policy at MSRCL motivated by wanting to better aid the refugee camps weak economy, if only modestly, until we acquire more partners and can open up a storefront serving one hot, nutritious meals to every Syrian refugee children who needs one every day of the year.
For dry goods, like pasta, canned goods etc., tissues, etc the camp prices equal or are only slightly higher than those at Spinney’s, the main supermarket in Beirut and Saida.
Some photos I took this morning of MSRCL refugee camp suppliers are below. Both of these first two shops are on Rue Sabra & near the former PRCS Gaza Hospital. What’s left of the hospital now houses about 900 refugees, since it was stripped of all its equipment-even its wiring and plumbing fixtures- during the 1985-89 massacres committed against these and other Palestinian camps?
Often erroneously labeled “camp wars,” there was of course no war as I think you would agree, it was quite simply a series of massacres. Virtually all of whose men folk would normally be camp defenders had left with the PLO in August 1982-I was on one of their boats and ended up in a makeshift camp in Tebessa, Algeria, not far from Tunis where the PLO was to set up offices.) One side during the massacres, i.e. the Palestinian civilian population, had no weapons. And the other side had no mercy. While continuing to this day playing the Palestinian card. Much bitterness remains as you know.
“Abu Mohammad” the owner of the above meat market is from al Quds.
“Ahmad”, our main poultry supplier at MSRCL, is from Safed, North Palestine. Just this morning the gentleman chose this totally innocent, trusting, unsuspecting chicken and chopped her into soup-size pieces that I will make later today. My sainted mother, being a strict Roman Catholic from Rosenheim near Munich, I was raised shouldering Catholic guilt even though Mom became Episcopalian after divorcing an Irish lout- thus being kicked out of the local RC church at age 28 with babies in her arms, and marrying my father Clyde Chester Lamb, who had fought a few years earlier in the battle of Verdun–helping your country(!), and whose roots are in northern England … anyhow … I hope I won’t feel too much Catholic guilt eating this tender little chicken.
On the right below is “Abu Ramsi” from Jaffa, Palestine. Lovely guy and good friend, who like many still in the camps here, fought in several battles to liberate his still occupied country…oops you see dear, politics, as Mao instructed us, Politics do indeed seep into are being, motivations and ultimately our actions, no?
Ps: I am inclined to delay my return to Damascus by a couple of days since Syrian friends advise me that not much is open-government offices and others, during the Eid 2-3 days. Did any Sheik, in Tehran, Mecca or elsewhere ever announce yet anything about when the moon may be rising to the right spot?
Folks still seem unsure exactly when Eid officially starts.
Always and ever ma/am, your thoughts and critiques are urged.