SHWAY SHWAY


With her return to Lebanon in 2019, Australian-born, Lebanese film maker Tania Safi has produced her first own web series. The series Shway Shway (meaning “little by little”) showcases change-makers across the country who are slowly making life better for some of the world’s most marginalised people. In an attempt to create a global conversation about the human ability to help and as a direct challenge to the negative media narrative surrounding the MENA region, we take the journey with Tania as she explores the ever-evolving political landscape, her own relationship with and the diaspora of Lebanon. With this depiction we get an accurate and balanced representation of individual connections to culture and identity or the lack of, and what that looks like in 2019.

Episode One

Why Is An Aussie-Lebanese Girl Back In Lebanon?

I grew up in Bankstown, Sydney. I'm now living in Beirut, Lebanon, volunteering my skills and experience as a filmmaker to those who need it the most. I created Shway Shway, a self-funded series that will highlight a place, person, NGO or community group that is helping change lives for the better! You'll meet people who make sustainable menstrual products for displaced girls and women, those who brave working in lawless redbones and others who just leave you feeling so okay about the world again. Shway Shway will remind you that we are ALL capable of being the change. Please support these places by sharing their videos and better yet, contributing to any of their campaigns directly.

Episode Two

Shatila Studio Is Light Inside "An Outdoor Prison"

Shatila Refugee Camp, a place taxi driver's were too afraid to drive me to, is full of tens of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees who are not permitted to work and yet who still have to pay hundreds of dollars in rent each month. Lebanese police, army and ambulances do not enter Shatila. For these reasons and more, you would never expect Shatila Studio to be open every day, offering skills, autonomy and a salary to over 100 people who are some of the most vulnerable. With the permission of Shatila Studio and leaders of the camp, I visited this space that the world has seemingly forgotten about to investigate why and how Shatila Studio operates. 

 To support these women, share this video and visit https://www.instagram.com/shatilastudio/ to order a custom design.

Episode Three

Turning Periods Into Pathways

About half the world's population will get their period at some point, yet it still remains one of the most taboo subjects across the globe. It's even more difficult and potentially life-threatening for girls and women who are displaced, homeless or refugees and who do not have access to menstrual products or hygiene. We spent time with Days for Girls, who are trying to combat this shame and inaccessibility by creating pads that last for three years. Watch as they distribute their handmade sustainable menstrual kits and provide sex and health education to vulnerable Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinians living in Lebanon. 

 For more information, please visit https://www.daysforgirls.org

Episode Four

The People Who Give Peace To War Affected Kids

I'm going to share something really personal for this one. I used to live in Tripoli. While I lived there, a war broke out and left me absolutely shattered as a person. I only lived that conflict for a few months but it took years to overcome the anxiety and PTSD. For those who have never experienced war, you can only imagine or read about the immediate affects, but the long-term toll can be just as horrific. In the 3-months that I've been living back in Lebanon, I've spoken to many kids who saw their own parents being killed. Now, war-affected kids around the world have to deal with not only what they've seen and heard, but the aftermath of what that violence and fear has done to them and their community. They don't have access to treatment or money for anti-depressants and for some regions of the world, foreigners are too afraid to set foot where they live, meaning they receive little aid and end up feeling completely abandoned. That's why I was so moved to hear about IAHV Peacebuilding in Tripoli. They are a mix of volunteers from Tripoli and the world who refuse to give up on these kids and after speaking to so many of the youths who attend, their happiness and appreciation for this NGO was palpable. They are from many regions, many religions and identities, and they are all welcome. Yoga, meditation and calming techniques that you and I are used to just don't exist in this region, so it's incredible to see how receptive they and their families are of new things that are helping improve their life. Some of the kids you're about to see are orphans or have seen some unimaginable realities. Permission was given to film the ones you can see, but please respect that it took a lot of guts and courage for them to speak on camera. 

Check out more @iahvpeacebuildinglebanon or http://www.iahv-peace.org.

Episode Five

The Woman Who Turned Down Her 3 Masters Degrees To Feed The Homeless

Maya was only 25 when she started @foodblessed, a local hunger relief and food rescue initiative run by a group of volunteers with a passion and will to fight hunger in Lebanon. After many people in her life begged her to stop and to get a job instead, Maya knew what was right and decided to help families and people who weren't so privleged. FoodBlessed don't turn anyone away, whether it's a meal for Iftar or to distribute food kits to the homeless or refugees, their belief is that everyone deserves love and kindness just as much as they need something on their plates. And they're right.In the time FoodBlessed has been running, they have managed to partner with restaurants, events, grocery stores and more to help collect food that would otherwise end up in a landfill. And if that's not enough, Maya also runs beach clean ups, plants trees and hosts talks about sustainability and climate change! FoodBlessed accept volunteers both locally and those visiting Lebanon. All it takes is your time and a smile. I'm with Maya in believing that everyone can make this world a better place, from sharing your skills to your time or just listening to someone that needs to be heard. We are all equal. Big respect to this crew and to any future volunteers. 

For more information on how to donate or volunteer, visit http://foodblessed.org

Episode Six

The Only LGBTQ+ And Women's Safe Space In Beirut

This pride month I'm proud to share a very special place, Haven for Artists. Haven is a locally based NGO based in Beirut, Lebanon that aims to endorse, encourage and expose the modern underground art scene of Lebanon and the Middle East. Dayna Ash founded Haven after she saw the desperate need for a space that not only would feature emerging local artists, but one that would support those facing persecution or discrimination in the MENA region for their LGBTQI+ or woman status. And so, with a group of volunteers, she created her own space. For some, this is a life-saving space or a literal refuge for those who would otherwise be homeless, without community or unemployed.Haven is an all-inclusive space that the community in Beirut and wider Lebanon appreciate to no end. From the artist residencies, free galleries, workshops, screenings, gigs and so much more, there is no space quite like it anywhere else. 

For more information, please visit https://havenforartists.org Or https://www.instagram.com/havenforart... 

Episode Seven

This NGO Uses Yoga To Help Refugees And Underprivileged Neighbourhoods

For World Refugee Day and International Day of Yoga, I wanted to release a video about @koun.ngo - the only NGO in Lebanon that travels to refugee camps offering free yoga to men, women and children of all ages. From those living in tents, to domestic workers in Jounieh, Sandy believes that yoga is one of the most beneficial practices for those suffering from trauma, and all she wants is to make that knowledge accessible.For a lot of people around the world, yoga is a practice that is available in studios, on apps or online. For displaced communities or children suffering from psychological traumas, it is extremely beneficial to coping with stress, to obtaining mindfulness and sometimes simply just be able to move their body. I have visited so many camps and settlements at this stage and while a lot of NGO's are focusing on immediate aid and needs, it was amazing to also meet Sandy who is focusing on long term healing and practices that are helping in sustainable ways. 

For more information, please visit https://www.instagram.com/koun.ngo/

Episode Eight

The Team Who Care For 800 Dogs And 200 Cats

*Content may distress some viewers. Nothing could have prepared me for this shoot. With roughly 40,000 dogs on the street and a countless amount of cats, BETA are a team of dedicated volunteers who are endlessly rescuing as many injured or abused animals as humanly possible. Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is nestled in the picturesque mountains of Lebanon where 800 rescue dogs currently reside. Nearby lives 200 rescue cats, some horses and even monkeys. BETA is Lebanon’s first no-kill shelter that not only has no cages, but the volunteers also travel to schools and universities to educate people on respecting animals, on the importance of adoption, of spaying and neutering and more. Helena, the Vice President, explained that although the mentality is slowly changing in Lebanon, getting people to adopt is still a challenge. Currently at full capacity and in need of finding a new location for the shelter, Helena was on route to take me to visit her 200 cats at the cat shelter when we suddenly found a dog in need of serious help. We stopped the planned shoot to rescue Sage. Please watch at your discretion, but know that this was edited with immense consideration. 

 To help support or volunteer with BETA, please visit https://betalebanon.orgFor their IG https://www.instagram.com/betalebanon/ 

 For more information on animal rights and advocacy in Lebanon please visit http://www.animalslebanon.org

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