Their vision centers around a Beirut where citizenship rights and duties, tolerance, the rule of the law, the fight against corruption, and genuine social responsibility, form the basic pillars of societal cohesion, freedom and development.
All of this could have been empty words, but when Beirutiyat is axed around several initiatives, namely: Sahem (which means "contribute" in Arabic and is the volunteering academy), Kader (or "capable" in Arabic and is destined for career orientation & recruitment), Jiran (or "neighbor" in Arabic and represents their neighborhood communities), Sawa (or "together" in Arabic which is a social solidarity program),and Al Manara (in reference to the "lighthouse" and dubs itself: culture for a cause).
All these branches are active with local partners such as universities, or other entities which are already active in the Beirut fabric. Truth be told, it is difficult to dissociate Beirutiyat from the personality of its founder and honorary chairman Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi. Even the Beirutiyat president, Mrs Hoda Kaskas is a member of the Beirut municipality stemming from his political party, further entangling the web of affiliation to the city. And trust me, it is not all that bad at all, as these individuals - from Dr. Makhzoumi and his wife May, or Mrs. Kaskas are truly working painstakingly rallied around the slogan "a better city starts today".
I have had many encounters with very influential politicians, what sets Dr. Makhzoumi apart is that - honestly - the man does not "play a role", meaning he does not wear masks and takes them off once the interview or talk is over. When we have discussions about the city, one can see his eyes gleaming and his enthusiasm bursting. This is not some means to an end for him. The volunteers and their cheering yesterday proved it. The many (many!) speeches, each emphasizing the projects done in detail with videos and visual aids show the enormity of the task undertaken.
Beirutiyat, has truly a lot to celebrate for and good for them - they do understand that real change happens with and because of all of us, and not through some truncated and media-hyped initiative. The road is long but with Beirutiyat trying their best, there is a glimmer of hope for all of us.