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From Beirut, Adriana Lima sends a strong message of support for education

Beirut, Lebanon

24 hours only. This is the duration of Adriana Lima's very first stay in Beirut. Despite the brevity of her visit to the Land of the Cedars, the actress and international model of Brazilian descent, wasted no time. At the initiative of Education Above All, of the Qatar Fund for Development, she inquired about the UNESCO project carried out in partnership with the fund, within the framework of the LiBeirut initiative, and collected first hand testimonies. A monumental project carried out in record time and which has enabled the rehabilitation of 75 public schools, 20 technical schools and 3 universities, all damaged by the Beirut port blasts in August 2020.

With an EAA delegation, Adriana Lima went first to meet the students of Achrafieh III public school, east of Beirut, where she was received by the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut, Costanza Farina, and her team. She toured the newly renovated school, listening carefully to explanations about the disastrous state of the school in the aftermath of the explosion and the changes that had been made. Interrupting a lesson in Arabic literature, she took a seat in a classroom among the students. “I like coming to school in the morning,” said Georges, a student. At the beginning, we used to study here with the bare minimum. Today, the environment is pleasant! »


"I hated school when I was young," said Adriana Lima. It's been over 20 years since I've sat on these benches. But when I started my career in modeling, and I started to travel and meet people from different cultures, I understood the importance of what I learned in school, of all these tools I was given. It was all worth it, and I wish I had been more careful back then.” She added: “Enjoy every minute! I would have liked to have, like you, the opportunity to learn English at school. I know that you have been through difficult challenges but this makes you stronger for the future. What has been achieved here with EAA, UNESCO and their partners is incredible. »


A moment of emotion followed when Amira, a young Syrian student, wanted to tell how she lived the tragedy, after having fled the war in Syria. “This building is much more than a school for us,” she explained. It is our house. I'm happy to see it renovated. On August 4, I was with my mother and my brother, who broke his arm when everything collapsed on us. I remember asking myself: What will happen to me if my mother dies and I am left alone here, in Lebanon, without anyone? Who is going to take care of me? “A testimony received with great tenderness by Adriana Lima, who drew on sad memories of her childhood. “When I was young, my school was very far from my house, she recalled. I had to physically struggle to get on the bus every morning, and violence surrounded us. One day I was coming home from school and a thief attacked my friend and me. When she resisted him, he shot her in the face, killing her instantly. Here, you are in good hands, with EAA, UNESCO, your teachers. Even if you don't realize it today, when you grow up you will look back and feel grateful. Do not be afraid, be good, because I truly believe that life gives back to us for our good deeds in its own way. »


Before leaving the school, the Brazilian star inspected the roof of the building, which offers a breathtaking view of the port, ravaged by the explosion, and where the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, had launched the flagship initiative of UNESCO, LiBeirut.

She then went to the American University of Beirut (AUB), where she was welcomed to the prestigious institution by the Brazilian Ambassador to Beirut, Hermano Telles Ribeiro, the Vice President for Administration Mary Jaber Nachar and her colleagues. The opportunity for Adriana Lima to visit the AUB Museum and its cultural heritage buildings which were destroyed by the blasts and rehabilitated by UNESCO in partnership with EAA, and to reaffirm: "Education is the cornerstone of a better future for all. »


Li Beirut is an international flagship initiative launched from Beirut by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in the aftermath of the explosions, on August 27, 2020, to support the rehabilitation of schools, historic heritage buildings, museums, galleries and the creative industry, all of which suffered significant damage in the deadly explosions.