On October 3rd, The Nawaya Network - a Beirut-based NGO that works to develop the talents and skills of low-income youth by providing them with training, mentorship, and funding to find employment opportunities - launched its first edition of ‘NawayaTalks: The Untold Stories of The People of Beirut’.

The inspirational event was hosted by Frankie Walters of Virgin Radio Lebanon in Hamra’s Babel Theatre and featured speakers from various backgrounds who got to share their personal experiences of overcoming harsh life struggles in order to achieve their dreams.

“We firmly believe that everyone is born with potential, but when resources are scarce and opportunities are limited and when no support exists to develop the talent, not only does the individual suffer but so does the entire society, and his why our network exists, to prop up these individuals and support them in pursuing their passions” Nawaya Founder Zeina Saab told the audience.

One after the other, hidden heroes took the stage, fearlessly pouring their hearts out in front of a large audience of predominantly unfamiliar faces, starting with US-based Lebanese entrepreneur Mark Haidar who had to overcome significant financial struggles in order to pursue a university education, and is now founder of several tech companies in the US.

“Don’t settle for a job, don’t settle for the status quo, when somebody tells you no, try again,” Haidar concluded.

Physician Amany Sabbagh shared her inspiring story of how she was able to pull through various financial and social obstacles through perseverance and determination in order to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor. After that, young designer Nadine Ghosn, whose love for fashion and styling was propped up by Nawaya from the start, took the stage to address her growth as a designer and how she has recently been chosen to manage a prestigious atelier while still a senior fashion design student.

Circus artist Johnny Gerges was up next, telling everyone how the circus completely changed his life after struggling with drug addiction at a young age. Then it was time for violinist and Nawaya youth Hovsep Zeitounilian who sacrificed everything to pursue his lifelong dream of learning violin despite being deprived of an ID. “I may not have an ID, but music is now my identity,” he explained.

The talks then unfolded in the same inspirational spirit, interspersed with stirring artistic performances from the talented Nawaya youth, and most importantly reminding everyone in the audience of their humanity through vibrant stories of confidence, survival and achievement.

To learn more about The Nawaya Network, visit their Facebook page.


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