Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, CEO of SAL&CO and XO Records and manager of The Weeknd, Doja Cat and French Montana, among others, is helping raise money to aid victims of the Beirut explosion. Slaiby was born in Lebanon and immigrated to Canada as a teenager. He and his wife, Rima Fakih Slaiby, the first Arab-American Miss USA, donated $250,000 to support the Lebanese Red Cross, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Children’s Cancer Center Of Lebanon.
The blast resulted in hundreds of casualties and many more who were injured or left homeless while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Global Citizen also partnered with the Slaiby family, launching the #GlobalAidForLebanon campaign.
“My heart aches for Lebanon,” said Slaiby in announcing the initiative with his wife (the two were married in Lebanon in 2016). “The massive destruction scenes brought back to my memory the hard times I experienced with my parents during the war and that forced me to leave Lebanon at an early age following the loss of my dad, so I urge you all to take part in the ‘Global Aid for Lebanon’ campaign to raise funds and support for the region.”
Added George Kettaneh, secretary general of the Lebanese Red Cross: “In a country that is suffering now from so many overlapping crisis and tragedies, the Lebanese Red Cross reaffirms its commitment to stand by the most vulnerable and to provide neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian aid. Our ambulance volunteers were on the front line of the response after the blast, and we are now working with all other aid actors to provide relief, shelter, primary healthcare and basic assistance to all those who need it most.”
“Nearly 85% of food in Lebanon is imported – much of it coming through the country’s largest port, which now lies in ruins,” noted Abdallah Alwardat, country director and representative of the UN’s WFP.
“I may have not been close enough to hear the blast, but we heard the tragic cries of the mothers and fathers who lost their children, the tears of the Lebanese people who were left with nothing,” said Rima Fakih Slaiby, who also serves as ambassador of the Children Cancer Center of Lebanon. “The heartbreak of a nation, our beloved nation, will always be within our hearts. The war forced us to leave and we cannot sit idly by and ignore clear cries for help, so we urge you all to take part in the ‘Global Aid for Lebanon’ campaign to raise funds and support Lebanon.”
Another music notable with Lebanese roots, pop singer Mika, is also pleading for help in the form of a letter to Lebanon, which he posted on social media today (Aug. 10).
Read the letter in its entirety below:
My dear Lebanon, My dear Beirut,
It’s still early in the morning on the other side of the Mediterranean and I feel so close and yet so far away from you. So close to you, as you lie devastated by the apocalypse, I can’t stop staring, transfixed, at the battered expressions of my brothers and sisters. In their eyes, I sense their fright, their tears. I shudder as I see a wounded person carried out through the rear window of an old car, a young girl covered in blood in her father’s arms, shell-shocked inhabitants running through streets littered with rubble, broken glass and shattered buildings… So far away from you, haunted by the desolation, I hear in my head the deafening noise of the two explosions that haunted the residents of Beirut. The screams of the grieving families and stunned victims merge in the middle of the night with the screeching sirens of ambulances. I’ve also been told of the silence in the early hours of this morning, of the smell of the smoking ruins.
Faced with this chaos, I recall a line from the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran: “one can only reach dawn by taking the path of night”. For some months now, you have once again been sinking into the path of night. There are divisions, echoes of conflicts at your borders, corruption, the powerlessness of your leaders, the monetary crisis which has plunged your families into misery and then the surge of the coronavirus epidemic. The carefree Lebanese nature, the answer to dramas in the past, was replaced by anger and fear. I became more anxious each passing day, as if my wounds, the roots which I’d left behind at the age of only one and a half were finally catching up with me.
And then, suddenly, at 6.10pm on Tuesday, a tragic grey cloud rose up from your port, mowing down your exhausted people. The thick orange smoke drowned the skies of Beirut and replaced the distant memory, so often recounted by my mother, of the yellow light which bathed our 4th floor, sea-facing apartment on the corniche. I cannot but think of these two explosions as a symbol of a system which is shattering. The crash of bombs, wreaking death in streets still marked by the scars of war, cannot be unheard. The Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassane Diab, promises that the persons responsible will “be held accountable” But those responsible for whom? For what? Those responsible for 30 years of agony which have turned the land of cedars into the land of ashes. It’s said that a catastrophe is a tragic outcome, the end of a series of misfortunes.
After darkness comes the dawn. I know your resilience, your strength and your solidarity, nurtured by your mix of cultures, by this special place you occupy, half way between the Arab world and Europe. Tomorrow, you will rise up as you have always done before. Music will pour once again from your windows, people will dance on your terraces and perfumes will waft from your kitchens. I will be there.
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