IGP Stories

Beirut’s first Ecobirthday: A huge success at the Ecohub with the AUB Neighborhood Initiative and Ahla Fawda

Middle East

Mona El Hallak and Mayssa Jallad

24 May 2024

On Sunday, May 19, 3-year-old Taym Douaihy celebrated his birthday at the Ecohub, an initiative founded by Ahla Fawda which converted a parking lot in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut into a space for “environmental services and educational activities to promote eco-awareness”. The large outdoor space includes a recyclable waste collection station, and the Ecoplay playground made of recycled materials designed by CatalyticAction, funded by PROCOL Lebanon and implemented by the AUB Neighborhood Initiative. It also includes an Ecoshop or Eco Dekkaneh, conceived by Ahla Fawda director Iman Assaf, which stocks clothing and non-perishable food items allocated to needy families in exchange for their collection of recyclable waste. It is within this context that the birthday was organized, with the programming conceived by Mona El Hallak, director of the AUB Neighborhood Initiative. Taym’s parents, journalist Sobhiya Najjar and independent MP Michel Douaihy, felt an Ecobirthday would be perfect for their son, who became recently interested in the animated children's show “Trash Truck” and who, himself, has been encouraged to recycle at home.

Sunday’s birthday events started with a sorting activity, where the invited children learned to sort their own household recyclables, which they had begun collecting since the invitation was sent to them two weeks prior. The kids also donated their used clothes to the Hamra Bella initiative. Children then enjoyed the Ecoplay area, had recycling signs painted on their faces and hands, and became engaged spectators in performances planned around the themes of reducing and recycling, with Fernando from Circus Hub, Mona El Hallak and Fadia Tannir. One of the highlights of the day took place when children spontaneously began collecting the waste discarded by the performers and placing it in the designated bins, as learned that morning.

The kids also enjoyed a food buffet with reused plates and cutlery belonging to a highschool student volunteer who used them as a child and who helped out with the event as part of his community service at school. The space was decorated with fabric scraps from Warde, turned into banners and tablecloths thanks to a local seamstress. Fabric scraps were also made into pencil cases that the children took home as gifts, along with notebooks made of recycled paper from Papyrus Atelier. The Ecohub was painted and maintained by Ahla Fawda staff, thanks to a recent sponsorship by Tinol paints.

The Ecohub looks forward to hosting many future Ecoevents, especially those addressed to the youth, to help raise awareness about the importance of reducing, sorting at the source, recycling and upcycling, and promoting community solidarity. For inquiries, contact the AUB Neighborhood Initiative on their Facebook page @aubneighborhoodinitiative and Instagram page @aubni .

PROCOL Lebanon helps support initiatives that will lead the way to a Green New Deal in Lebanon and the MENA Region.

Three-year old Taym, sorting recyclables for his birthday
Scrap fabric banner and tablecloth donated by Warde
Taym’s friend Jude, enjoying the Ecoplay playground

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