Peace. Thankfully, a word that I can imagine and relate to. Sadly, it is also a word that cannot be experienced or imagined for everyone in the world. In fact, the exact antonym of this word is the situation that many people in this world live in. I define peace as a state of mind in which we, from within, are free from hatred, troubles, anger, hurting, starvation and prejudice. Once we are at peace from within, we can radiate peace to the outside world. If each person on this planet is able to radiate the ‘peace’ that they have created within themselves, then, as a human race, we can form a utopia. Peace is where you can walk down the streets of Beirut, Lebanon and not find a little girl selling water bottles at 1 am for money. Peace is where you can walk out of your house and not fear that there is prejudice against you whether you are an Arab, a refugee, an African-American or a foreigner in a foreign country. The word ‘peace’ cannot be defined by a simple phrase. It is word in which you define by the exact image that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘peace.’
During the fall semester of my junior year at R-MC, I submitted a project proposal to the Davis Project for Peace to complete in the mountains of Lebanon with the overall goal to help ‘spread peace’ and ‘Alleviate the refugee crisis in Lebanon’ (the title of my proposal). A couple of months later, I received notice that my project proposal was selected and would be funded to complete in Lebanon. Overwhelmed with joy, I was excited to get started with something I had been longing to do.
Just so that you are familiar with the Davis Project for Peace, here is some information about their organization. It started in 2007 by Mrs. Kathryn W. Davis who was a lifelong philanthropist and internationalist. Mrs. Davis passed away in 2013 but her legacy still lives on. The Davis Project for Peace is now run by Mrs. Davis’ daughter and funds the Davis United World College Scholars Project that involves more than 90 American universities and colleges. Every year, a student from each these affiliated universities and colleges is chosen and fully funded to complete their proposed project.
The goal of this project was to provide immediate medical and hygienic care to refugee children in the mountains of Lebanon. This service was used to highlight the plight of the large refugee population and to raise awareness of the situation both in Lebanon and back at Randolph-Macon College.
Over the course of five days and in two different locations (Aley and Kfarselwan – both of which I get the honor of calling my hometowns), pro-bono pediatric medical treatment along with free medications were provided to not only the refugees in these areas but also to the vulnerable Lebanese citizens.
I would sometimes get questioned as to why I was putting so much time and energy in a project that “wouldn’t change anything” in the world. If we all just sit around and watch the world as it is, nothing is ever going to change. Though I am only one person, I had honor and absolute privilege of helping out families that desperately needed their children to be seen by a medical professional.
At times, I would sit and think to myself about how much of an impact am I really making. Questions like the one I described above would really get to me. But, then I remember that as a humanitarian, there is but so much I can do. Not only did the refugees and Lebanese themselves benefit from this project, but I also believe that the people of both Aley and Kfarselwan benefitted, as well. I was trying to raise awareness at the issues and situations that were going on in not only our beloved country, but also in the entire world. I had the privilege of watching the worried faces of these unprivileged people quickly change to faces of relief when they realized they were receiving free medications along with the free medical care.
Towards the end of my project, though constantly struggling internally that as a human I am not doing as much as I can to help the refugees out, I realized that this project was quite sustainable. Along with the medications that the children received alleviating their symptoms for the visit, they also received multivitamins and pain-relieving medications like Children’s Tylenol or Panadol. Potentially, these can last them for much longer than three months. Such a thought relieves my heart just a bit.
With hope of spreading peace and love throughout the world, I want to inspire others to make a difference. If we could start by everyone doing just one act of kindness, we would make progress; think of it like the ripple effect. As defined by Wikipedia (though not the best source for information), the “ripple effect is a situation in which, like ripples expanding across the water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from an initial state can be followed outwards incrementally.”
Remember, one simple action can cause a chain reaction. Much love, people.