BEIRUT: It’s the 46th day of the Lebanese revolution, and so far, this fairly young revolution, has witnessed people from different age groups, genders, religious backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels come together to fight for a common cause: a better tomorrow.
However, on the 46th day, people with special needs were the highlight of the protests as they took to the revolution’s stage to express their concerns, fears, and their hopes through performing a musical play.
The Al-Kafaàt Foundation; a Lebanese non-governmental, non-sectarian, and private humanitarian organization; put together a play, performed by young children, adults, and seniors with special needs in Martyrs’ Square to protest against the dire situation.
Al-Kafaàt delivers Specialized Rehabilitation Services in ten rehabilitation centers, to a yearly population of 1,000 children, adults and seniors with special needs.
One of Al-Kafaàt’s centers for severely disabled people was forced to close its doors at the beginning of 2019, leaving about 100 citizens without services.
The NGO is one of the many organizations that are contracted with the Social Affairs Ministry to provide services to disabled people but that haven't been receiving payments from the government for over a year now.
The play featured Fakhreddine, a revolutionary Lebanese leader who lived between 1572-1635 AD. His rule was characterized by economic and cultural prosperity, and he had fought against enemies in order to unite the people of Lebanon and seek independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The people with special needs recreated a part of Fakhreddine’s historical life, where he addresses the Lebanese, urging them to be independent, to overcome sectarian differences, and to stand hand in hand against corruption, and against Lebanon’s enemies.
The performers were dressed in traditional Lebanese attire, with the boys wearing a "sherwal" and a "tarboosh," and the girls wearing colorful hand-embroidered folkloric dresses and headbands.
They also performed the Lebanese traditional "dabke" dance, sang revolutionary songs, and demanded a better, stronger, and updated version of the Lebanese government, one that gives them their full rights as citizens and treats them simply as “differently-abled” people.
When Al-Kafaàt’s Hadath center had to close down at the beginning of 2019, people with special needs held a protest with their families in Downtown Beirut, demanding the government to back-pay the funds the government owes so the center can reopen its doors.
Ministry officials had previously said that they will actively work on finding spots in other NGOs for Al Kafaat’s clients, however, many have not received their new placement yet.
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