Sunday, July 30, 2006

The concert

Yesterday there were rumors that there was going to be a party. Around 4 PM the kids began blowing colored balloons and hanging them around the school. The playground looked so different: with laundry taken off from the wires, it looked like a school playground again. The children were so excited to have a party. They were wondering whether they were going to dance and whether they should change into a party outfit. Some of them did, others didn’t have different clothes. A couple of hours later, some people walked in and began installing microphones, amplifiers etc. It wasn't a party, it appeared, but a concert.

Minutes before the concert started, the audience disappeared as Hassan Nasrallah was giving a live TV message. I was worried that the broadcast will take over the concert, but I was wrong. The band introduced themselves as "Rabi' Beirut" (Beirut Spring) and dedicated their concert to the fallen martyrs, the wounded and the displaced. I didn't think that the kids were going to enjoy it but I was wrong again.

The band sang for Fairouz, Marcel, Julia etc. Today the school felt like a community, maybe for the first time – at least in my perception. There was a feeling of bonding between different families. Some were holding other people's kids, teenage girls were sitting together away from their parents, and adults were happy with the attention the school was getting. There were many cameras around the schoolyard: Future and Kuwait TV were there. Reporters were asking the kids about their lives at the school. Adults and children were relieved that foreigners were still interested in their stories.

By the time I was ready to leave, Zainab and Diana asked me to spend the night with them at the school and promised to find me a mattress and some food. After that cheerful evening, I think I really did want to sleep there. Outside the school, Beirut seemed empty, gloomy and desperate.


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