Tania Kassis: We should always hold on to hope… I am sure tomorrow will be a better day.
Three months after the blast, the Lebanese are still sinking in their tragedy as a result of a disaster, which was a fatal blow that destroyed their lives and future in seconds. Their physical and psychological health was a calamity at a time when the country was already suffering from crucial crises. Ever since that fateful day, Beiruties continue to face great shock and depression, that is interpreted into painful psychological disorders and severe anger and despair; in addition to permanent health problems.
Many associations and organizations rushed to support the wounded people through field relief work, rehabilitation and restoration of homes and private property. Nevertheless, pain and sadness reside deeply in the hearts of those affected, therefore, some of these organizations made sure to provide psychological support to lighten their burdens and mitigate their distress and pain. The process took place through various psychological treatments, with different techniques depending on age groups and the circumstances each individual has gone through. One of the most effective treatments was the music therapy.
The artist Tania Kassis chose to support the Beiruties, with this Free of charge treatment, through the “Tania Kassis Academy” and in collaboration with “ONE LEBANON”. What are its goals? What did its sessions include?
The Department of Communication and Public Relations in the Middle East Council of Churches contacted Kassis to shed the light on this humanitarian program and its details, which continues to be implemented today.
In the beginning of the interview, the artist Tania Kassis immediately recalled the bitter memories she experienced during the explosion. She described the difficulty she went through with her young students in the academy, in Sodeco region – Achrafieh in the light of the first moments of the blast. Kassis wasn’t able to reach her parents to check up on them, and she did not expect that her home would be as damaged as she later on found it. She then added “I thank God that I survived, and that I was not among the wounded or the victims, therefore my mission today is to stand by the victims and support them in these difficult circumstances.”
Because of this experience, Kassis launched the initiative of music therapy, pointing out that some Lebanese are embarrassed or unwilling to participate in sessions allocated only for psychological treatment, even if they suffer from psychological distress. Which is why she chose to combine psychotherapy with music which is already considered a source of comfort. She noted that participation in these sessions does not require experience in singing or playing a musical instrument, since it includes different music and rhythm-based workouts; all the while keeping preventive measures to reduce the spread of the Corona virus.
In the same context, Tania explained that she devoted sessions for all age groups, each is different and separate from the other. Participants were divided into several groups; there was a group for children between 7 and 14 years old, another for teenagers and a third for adults. Moreover, the trainers that lead the sessions are specialists in music therapy and they graduated from the French university of Bordeaux.
The Artist Tania Kassis followed her speech with a bittersweet feeling, while recalling the participants’ happiness and their positive reactions after each session. And she was especially moved by the fact that she managed to achieve her desired goals by supporting the Beiruties and alleviate their pain. She described the psychological comfort that the victims feel during the treatment period, especially that they are united by the same pain. On the other hand, Kassis expressed her desire and determination to continue these treatments, if the necessary resources and support are provided by the relevant parties.
With great regret, Kassis expressed, her and all the Lebanese’s fear in facing the unknown future. Pointing out that Lebanon managed to face a lot of challenges before, and Lebanese never surrendered while facing difficulties and managed to overcome all the obstacles. She emphasized that “Despite the consequences of Beirut’s huge explosion on all levels, we should always hold on to hope. She called on all Lebanese to stay in their homeland and stand beside their brothers and sisters in the capital and all Lebanese regions, especially beside children with fragile hearts “They don’t deserve to be left alone in this adversity; it is our duty to help them without losing hope” because the damage is morally, materially and psychologically enormous. and with great hope she added “I am sure tomorrow will be a better day, God willing”.
As for her upcoming work to support Beirut and its wounded citizens, Tania said she will not cease to search for new ideas. Her organization ONE LEBANON is distributing aid to the affected families, and is preparing for a Christmas concert, for her students at the academy, and young talents from all over Lebanon, to sing for the children of Beirut and sow joy and hope among them. She also pointed out that she participated in a virtual concert held by the United Nations with the participation of an orchestra, in support of the Lebanese Red Cross.
Tania Kassis’ Academy and other local and international organizations continue their efforts to accompany and rescue the Lebanese people who are full of life. Relief works are ongoing in the field and for the time being reconstruction is a priority; especially since many homes are not yet ready to be inhabited. As for taking care of the people, it is also necessary to ensure that the affected do not lose their hope, faith and their love for life.
Report by Elia Nasrallah