Beirut will never die

Grafitti on the streets of Beirut: “Beirut will never die” (Zena el-Khalil)

After feeling so helpless all day, not being able to channel any energy into any work, I made my way over to a meeting we were having concerning the oil spill. There were about 10 of us there. I looked around the room and thought about how beautiful everyone was.

Here we were gathered in a makeshift office in one of the relief centers, daring to meet up, under the bombs and threats, to talk about our environment and what we were going to do about it.

In the room next door, my sister, who is only 24 years old, now head of the medical unit at the relief center, was organizing prescriptions and pills. It is so funny … people call her doctor now. She has a BA in liberal arts. Because she has been at the center since day one and took charge of the medicine and distribution, she is now Doctora Lana. In a week she learned how to do stuff it takes people years to do at universities!

In the room next to her, people were meeting to set the plan of distribution of milk and diapers for the next day.

Despite the threats of Beirut being blown up today, here were people working … here were everyday people, coming together to help in any way they could. I was filled with so much love, being around such passionate people.

Something changed tonight. I guess when you are looking at death, straight in the eyes, you find a new kind of courage. You realize how important it is to hang on to what you have. You fight for life with a new kind of passion.

I have spent the last three weeks mourning the loss of Beirut … mourning the loss of my dreams and my work.

Now, it’s time to accept what is happening and take charge of the situation.

Beirut, she will never die.

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Zena el-Khalil is an installation artist, painter, curator, and cultural activist. She is the co-founder of the art collective, xanadu*, that is based in NYC and Beirut. Her blog, documenting her writing from Beirut, is located at