When the Beirut blast occurred on August 4th, claiming the lives of over 200, injuring thousands, and leaving 300,000 homeless, Cherine Magrabi felt instant guilt. “My family and I were outside Lebanon,” states the founder and curator of the NGO House of Today and the luxury clutch brand 13BC and brand director at Magrabi optical. “It sparked a huge sensation of guilt that my friends and extended family had to endure this and yet I didn’t.” Magrabi was alerted to the catastrophe via text message stating that a bomb targeting a politician had exploded in Beirut. “I’ve lived in Lebanon for eighteen years and, as you can imagine, I’ve had to read many messages such as this,” she comments. “As usual, I looked for the news online, only to discover that this was something on an altogether different scale–not a bomb, but a devastating chemical explosion.” She immediately started dialing her family and friends in Beirut. “On every call, tears were uncontrollable. Sitting so far away, I felt helpless, angry, and confused.” Within a week of the explosion, she announced a plan to support creatives via House of Today.
Since 2012, House of Today stems from a genuine desire to shed light on Lebanon’s design talents. It’s a platform of giving, nurturing, of solidarity, transparency, and togetherness. “We do everything we can to promote Lebanese designers and to build a connective ecosystem that allows them to flourish well beyond this land,” states Magrabi. “On August 4th, Lebanese creatives lost their studios in Beirut and saw their homes devastated. We need to start by helping them return to basics by reequipping them and providing them with the means to return to work.”
Magrabi furthers that in the first stage, she is calling for all designers to get in touch with House of Today by submitting a form from which her team will be able to start to assess the damages and the cost involved in getting the studios up and running as soon as possible. House of Today is also raising funds to provide opportunities for Lebanese students to study abroad and for designers to enroll in residency programs. “Designers and artisans, one can’t function without the other,” comments Magrabi. “We need to be supportive across the board so we can get Lebanon’s design ecosystem back on track as soon as possible,” she states, adding that they are also reaching out to Lebanese artisans and lending a helping hand in order to refurbish their ateliers.
“The people of Beirut are our heroes. I’m inspired by them and am awed by their solidarity at times like this. What they have endured is inhumane, yet they have showed the world–again–how it is essential to come together for the greater good and to rise as one… together. Throughout the years they have done so much for themselves, it wouldn’t be fair to ask them to do more. This is my time to support them. Our time to support the designers and the people of Beirut during this time of urgent need.” Those who are outside Lebanon can continue to spread awareness of the situation and support via donations. “We are hoping to raise US $500,000 of which I am committing to contribute to myself,” she asserts. “It’s important for everyone to know that every little bit helps.” Houseoftoday.com/support-us.aspx
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