WHAT IS THE BOOK OF BEIRUT?
The adventure began when I decided to work with the children who had seen the 4 August 2020 explosion of the Port of Beirut up close – children who lived near the Port, saw the destruction, saw people hurt and strewn in the streets, and lived through the trauma of seeing their familiar world capsize into destruction and chaos.
Therefore, I put together a team of child animators, child psychologists, psycho-motor therapists, who all volunteered their time and expertise, to help children who had lived through the explosion to externalize their feelings.
Over four sessions, the project hosted a total of 128 children. The kids were welcomed by the team of experts and guided through three personalized stages of activities.
These first sessions helped the expert team identify children with post-traumatic wounds. The team of psychologists had long, private conversations with the parents of the children to answer questions and address concerns and help them deal with their children’s symptoms in the future.
To mark the one year memorial of the August 4 explosion, the Book of Beirut is a collection of these 128 heartfelt drawings and for the first time, it tells stories in the children’s own voices expressing their trauma and bewilderment – but also their hopes and dreams.
These are the most truthful, spontaneous, authentic pieces of art I have seen, unpolluted by pretense or prejudice. Each drawing is accompanied by a short message, addressed by each child to the children of the world, and a description of the drawing recorded in the artist-child’s own voice.