In times like this, you get to think of the greatness Lebanese people have revealed about themselves as individuals, taking personal initiatives to support their common goal for a Lebanon we all so ache for. They have been countless selfless initiatives during this revolution, from the people for the people, and Matbakh El-Balad (the Town's Kitchen) is one that stands out remarkably.
Matbakh El-Balad, also called endearingly the kitchen of the people, is a small kitchen in a tent in the Martyr’s Square of Downtown Beirut. It was born to support the revolution and the revolutionists during this disgracing economic crisis that has left many in a struggle. And it was created by a beautiful soul known as Chef Wael Lazkani.
Chef Lazkani's richness is in his cooking skills and his patriotism, which he decided to put at the service of the revolution and get himself to feed for free the hundreds of revolutionists in the Martyr's Square. He is an expert in his field, having studied and worked for years as a Chef in London, Geneva, France, and Montreal, and back to Lebanon where he has been also surviving the severe economic crisis with his fellow citizens.
Partnering with a friend, he proceeded to set up his own basic kitchen amidst the protest in a small tent. He aimed to feed the hundreds of protesters sleeping every night in Martyr’s Square.
However, due to the economic crisis Lebanon is going through, these hundreds turned into thousands, and soon enough many citizens stepped in to contribute their help, sending him food from their own home kitchens.
Today, as the revolution has stepped into its 2nd month, Matbakh El-Balad has around 30 volunteers and opens for the people at 4 pm, except when there are general strikes.
The clanging of pots and pans has become a customary call that the food is ready to be served. The main dish is always falafel, which is known to be the modest yet nutritious food of the poor.
During the attacks on the revolution in Martyr’s Square, the kitchen tent was destroyed along with most of what was inside. However, Chef Lazkani refused to give up. He and his fellow volunteers reconstructed it and replaced all that was vandalized.
For those that might wonder who is financing Matbakh El-Balad: The Lebanese people are. Chef Lazkani has set up a donation box for those who can contribute, and people have been supporting. Matbakh El Balad is only financed by the people... for the people.
Chef Lazkani has created a glimpse of hope for those have no one to turn to. He is a young man that has been through the pain of unemployment and poverty like many Lebanese men and women these past years.
A modest tent, a shelter for the hungry, and a hope for Lebanon built in the midst of greed and selfishness.
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