Parents, children, medical professionals, activists and officials got together at the Gala Dinner "A Night with the Breastfeeding Stars" under the patronage of famous Lebanese Filmmaker Leila Kanaan. The Gala dinner aimed to raise awareness about breastfeeding in Lebanon. The event took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Beirut on the 10th of October.
"Together with breastfeeding parents, activists and medical professionals we want to tell to all Lebanese parents that breastfeeding is a natural way to provide a baby with lifetime immunity, healthy mental and emotional development, to protect the baby and the mother from many diseases such as obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Each family in Lebanon deserves to have proper information, support and education about benefits of breastfeeding, ways to overcome difficulties and enjoy beautiful breastfeeding journey" - said Mrs. NadiyaDragan El-Chiti breastfeeding counselor and lecturer, initiator of the Gala dinner.
The Gala dinner started with parents, their children and all guests walking on the red carpet under splashes of cameras. Each parent and child was like a star. Child friendly atmosphere of the dinner was filled with activities such as breastfeeding fashion show, mom and baby dance and kids animation through all the evening. For the first time, a short documentary film made by Lebanese filmmaker Leila Kanaan was screened during which Lebanese mothers and fathers shared their breastfeeding stories, challenges and successes.
"For me, a breastfeeding mother myself, it was an honor to help Lebanese parents to share their breastfeeding experience and to tell to new families about the importance of breastfeeding, its joy, benefits, and challenges. I hope this film will encourage parents to choose breastfeeding for their children, and will help to avoid misconceptions about mother's milk in our society" - said famous Lebanese filmmaker Leila Kanaan.
Mrs. Linda Shaker Berbari presented the accomplishment of the National Breastfeeding Campaign which included the development and dissemination of a TV ad, posters and flyers on all Lebanese territories. Mrs. Berbari acknowledged the great effort put by Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) to prioritize this first-time National Campaign and applauded its commitment to make this a yearly event.
The dinner was organized by Mrs. Nadiya Dragan El-Chiti breastfeeding counselor and lecturer in collaboration with the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), World Vision, LACTICA Lebanese NGO and Lebanese Association for Early Childhood Development (LAECD). The event brought together breastfeeding activists, medical professionals and representatives from Ministry of Public Health, UN agencies and INGOs including WHO, UNICEF, as well as guests of honor like the Former Minister of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM) Mr. Ziad Broud and his wife Mrs. Linda Baroud who are strong supporters of breastfeeding.
Lebanon has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding among Middle Eastern countries. Meanwhile the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months of age to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.