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How are Middle East celebrities driving digital solidarity amid COVID-19?

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How are Middle East celebrities driving digital solidarity amid COVID-19?
Copyright  euronews   -   COURTESY: Resala Charity Foundation
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Communities across the Middle East and North Africa are exploring ways to counter the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic together, through social solidarity.

Making a positive move in Egypt, is footballer Saad Samir.

In March, in addition to stay-at-home orders from the government, many Egyptians faced storms and floods. As a result, many people lost their homes.

Samir pledged to provide food and shelter for those affected.

“We’ll start with 20 families, and I challenge Walid Soliman, Sharif Ekramy…” wrote the Al Ahly Sporting Club defender, in a March Instagram post.

With that, he kicked off ‘Tahady Al Kheir’, or the Goodness Challenge, on social media.

COURTESY: Resala Charity Foundation
Footballer Saad Samir kicks off the Goodness ChallengeCOURTESY: Resala Charity Foundation

The campaign soon saw more than 50 footballers, and a variety of celebrities, follow suit to help raise nearly $450,000.

Translating these pledges into action is the Resala Charity Organization.

To date, the non-profit group has delivered around eight million food packages.

Its goal is to reach 100,000 families by the end of Ramadan this May.

“It was the biggest movement in Egypt,” says Riham Meheisen, Resala Charity Foundation’s spokesperson. “To have celebrities and football players get involved together.. in such a great initiative to help those who are especially in need."

Kindling hope

Chaker Khazaal lights a candle as part of his campaign

Candle of Hope is a campaign founded on the belief that not all giving has to be financial to change lives.

The pan-Arab initiative urges people to spread hope and positivity by lighting a digital candle via an App.

Whilst the App does generate money through advertising, its founder Chaker Khazaal, says that individual acts of kindness are driving the initiative.

Khazaal, who is an author and social media influencer, says that by thinking outside of the box, individuals can support their communities in a variety of ways, not only financially.

One example he cites, is providing free advertising for local businesses on Instagram and other social media.

“That’s an act of kindness, so let’s be creative,” he says. “Let’s be innovative, let’s rethink community involvement.”

Fanning flames

Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters lights a candle in solidarity

Tens of thousands of people across the region are lighting candles in solidarity for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amongst them is Pink Floyd musician and songwriter Roger Waters, plus Lebanese singer and actress Haifa Wehbe, who recently lit her candle via a billboard in New York’s Times Square.

Lebanese singer and actress Haifa Wehbe lights a candle in solidarity

Egyptian actress Nelly Karim was another participant, and she told Euronews that she believed the promotion of kind acts would attract yet more kind acts.

Egyptian actress Nelly Karim speaks to Inspire Middle East

“If there were a million [people] that were made aware, good!” she says. “Specifically, these acts of good that start with something small. [They] grow and grow. That’s the best thing about it.”

SEEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA: ILLUSTRATING HOPE

Maya from Lebanon animated her neighbors in this creative tribute to them.

With contributions from Nancy Sarkis, Arthur de Oliveira and Nicolas Tabbal.