In 2009 I, (Joseph Matta) lived in Beirut and every night while traveling home I would see an old man who lived under a bridge, within a small cardboard box. I thought constantly about how I could help this man, but every time I passed by I would come up with an excuse of why I couldn’t help that day, I didn’t have money on me, didn’t have time to go for dinner, etc. I would think of all the things he might ask for help with and tried to prepare myself to assist him. So one day I prepared everything, I had cash with me, my house was clean and ready for a shower or a free bed, and I had food stocked in the house.
That night around 11pm I went and knocked on the side of the cardboard box, the man peeked his head out and said hello. We greeted each other, and I finally asked him if he would want to come to my house for dinner that night. He kindly said no thank you and smiled, I then asked if he would want to go for coffee or dessert, again he smiled and said no thank you. What about a place to sleep or a warm shower, again a kind no thank you. Finally I took out the money and said, take this and go buy what you need tomorrow. I didn’t know what else to say so I told the man good night and slowly walked away. As I turned my back, the old man said suddenly, I do need someone to talk to, would you sit with me.
This moment was such a revelation for me. I assumed that I knew exactly what this poor man needed from me, I had prepared it all. Yet not one of those things were essential to him. He just wanted to be heard, and listened to. I understood then that all needs are not materialistic, sometimes the greatest needs are human based.
To truly help people we need to connect on a human basis, we need to communicate and listen as an organization. From that moment moving forward we based all projects on the notion and emphasis on open communication leading towards development and sustainability. We focus on hearing the ideas, and thoughts of all those living within the village to truly understand the hopes and true needs of the community. This also provides ownership to those who feel heard and understood. We believe in Peace and the ability of communication to open the doorways and pathways to sustainability and understanding.