And it is – Khebz W Meleh
The Feast has been working with friends in Lebanon since the Summer of 2011, when we undertook a Youth Exchange week in Istanbul together. This lead to the running of youth encounters in Lebanon, and learning lots more about how this UK project can help young people in Lebanon to live well with their peers of different communities, political persuasions and faiths.
Now the work is established and growing, and so needs a name that captures the rich meaning of what we are doing. This name is Khebz W Meleh – which translates as “Bread and Salt”.
The expression describes a very special level of friendship. To say that someone has shared bread and salt with another person, means that they have gone through thick and thin together, and their friendship is still tight and able to resist the difficulties that they may face.
In Arabic and Lebanese cultures, when someone is invited to your home – whether a friend or enemy – you always invite them for a big meal to show your hospitality. This is how you honour the person and receive honour from others. So a “feast” does not represent what it might in the UK or other countries.
Recently we enjoyed hosting Manal el Tayar, KwM’s new worker, on a visit to the UK, including a small reunion of some of our Istanbul Exchange young people (feature photo above). Manal explained the new name this way:
“So when you are financially dependent, or have gone through difficult times, that you have nothing else to offer than bread and salt, you usually wouldn’t have anyone over so that you would be dishonoured, or dishonour the guest you are receiving, but if you can have bread and salt with that person, it means your relationship is so strong that you can show them your vulnerabilities and how poor you are at that point.”
In Lebanon, the KwM team want to create such deep friendships and relationships between the young people that no matter what has happened in the past or their current differences, they will be able to say “we are friends” – khebz w meleh!