George School student Safi Baadarani-Feeney ’22 found a way to help those impacted by this summer’s explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, by partnering with Beit El Baraka, a non-profit which has directed its efforts towards assisting with recovery from the incident. Safi has family members that were directly impacted by the explosion and while they were not harmed, he wanted to do something to help the community.
Affording essential school supplies, such as books and writing utensils, became a struggle for many families in Beirut following the explosion, so Safi set up a school supply drive at George School this fall. Service work is not unfamiliar for Safi, who has volunteered at a local food bank and was previously involved with a non-profit concerned with the safety of the ocean. However, this is the first time he has set up a drive or done work on this scale.
“Safi was deeply affected by the catastrophe in Beirut,” said Steven Fletcher, service learning coordinator. “The purpose of the drive was to raise awareness and connect with our international neighbors in a meaningful way. Safi asking the school to mobilize its efforts to contribute to the rebuilding process is a great example of service-learning. Through Safi’s leadership, we are giving the organization what it needs to help others recover from this disaster.”
The project has been a joy for Safi, and he has met a strong response from the community. “The GS community has been really positive and supportive,” he said. “When I first talked to Steven about the drive, he was definitely on board and wanted to help,” said Safi. “There was an amazing turnout of supplies from community members. There was also a lot of coordination that went into this from getting the word out, funding for shipping, and being in communication with customs in Beirut.”
The advice Safi would give to his peers who want to help a community in need is “to find something that you are passionate about and do what you can to help, whether it be big or small.” He also expressed optimism about the outcome of this project. “My 98-pound box of school supplies is going to help a lot of children learn despite all that happened there. Learning must go on to give kids hope and goals.”