Young artists at Manara Youth Center (MYC) showcased their paintings at the National Lebanese Library Foundation in Beirut. The Art Exhibition took place last Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture. During the opening, National Director Maher El Hajj gave an introductory word. The Advisor to the Minister of Culture and the Head of the Syndicate of Fine Artists in Lebanon, Dr. Nizar Daher, then encouraged youth and reminded them of the role of art in survival and that the pursuit of their dreams, no matter how small, can cause a ripple effect.
MYC teens chose the theme “Li Beirut” or “For Beirut”. Their paintings poignantly told the story of this city. They illustrated a historical tapestry of sorrows and hopes woven into its red-tiled roofs and arched panels. During the event, we asked several teens about their experiences. One girl shared,
“It’s the first time I’ve done something like this. I never knew I could draw, but now I have the chance to show others my talent.” Another girl shared, “I knew how to draw a little before coming to Manara [MYC], but Miss Elise [Art teacher at MYC] helped me draw much better. Drawing has become a huge part of my life because I love it. I dream of studying at the University of Fine Arts to become an artist.”
In the summer of 2022, drawing classes at MYC started with 20 teens; today, the number has almost tripled. Teens love showing up because classes provide a space to unwind and unleash creativity. All the while, a skilled instructor maintains a high standard of training them in the arts. Students feel accomplished as they hone their talents and learn the techniques.
Rana, a youth worker at the center, said,
“These teens have hidden talents. We are preparing them for even more art exhibitions as they continue reaching new heights and find in art an outlet for emotional expression and self-discovery.”
Teens at Manara Youth Center come from underprivileged environments without access to such opportunities. We pray that the classes continue to provide a much-needed diversion from their stressful realities. Due to these realities, many homes in Bourj Hammoud are stuck in a repetitive, hopeless narrative, often affecting teens’ morale. We pray that they pursue their dreams regardless. We pray that this exhibition starts more collaborations with the Ministry of Culture to help them do that and help us connect better with the community and local government.