Receiving an award from your industry peers is always going to be exciting. No more so than when that recognition is for your work in improving the lives of society’s most vulnerable. That’s what happened this summer for Juliana Sfeir, Special Projects Manager and Executive Producer of social impact programmes at SAT-7 Lebanon when the Lebanese Center for Human Rights recently granted her the Human Rights Journalism Award on behalf of SAT-7.
The accolade came for two hard-hitting awareness campaigns on the “inclusion of people with disability” and the rights of “the female heads of households”. Both are groups whose situations are too often misunderstood and their rights forgotten in Middle Eastern communities. As part of SAT-7’s work to change attitudes it ran a series of documentaries from the region for each campaign (filmed in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco), along with a set of brief, awareness spots, and a talk show.
During the 11 years that Juliana has worked with SAT-7, production teams have diligently promoted human rights awareness so that all of the region’s people may know life in its fulness. Past SAT-7 campaigns have advocated for the rights of women, children, ethnic and religious minorities, and people with disabilities. Future campaigns will address refugees and migrant and domestic workers.
SAT-7 offers more than mainstream answers to viewers. Juliana explains, “We don’t believe in just advocating human rights. These rights have to be seen in the light of the Word of God, and be a matter of prayer for us as Christians.” Jesus sets a perfect example of this as He spent His life ministering to people on the margins and stressed the importance of our care for them in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46).
Experiences growing up in Lebanon have also contributed to Juliana’s compassion for others. When Juliana was just 5 years old, civil war erupted in Lebanon. The Lebanese economy took a hard hit and her father’s refrigeration business suffered. As a result, she says, “We didn’t have the luxury to flee the war.”
The family stayed and endured the constant threat of violence. The trauma of growing up in wartime could have made Juliana bitter, but instead she found faith through a relationship with the Lord.
Juliana comes from a Maronite Christian background, but she attended a secular school and grew up with unanswered questions about God and spirituality. This curiosity about the supernatural led her to a church where she discovered God’s everlasting love. Juliana says, “I saw it through a congregation and how they accepted people from every different possible background… It’s just amazing how the Lord loves us.”
Before long, Juliana realized that she had become part of a big family. She says, “Thank goodness there’s mercy and grace. There’s a new beginning in every day, every hour, every minute.”
Considering God’s plan for SAT-7, Juliana says, “It’s just the beginning. There are people in SAT-7 who have amazing potential. I see a bright future.”
The team at SAT-7 is brimming with creative ideas for future projects, their realisation contingent upon funding.
Watch clip from part 1 of And I am not just a Woman, one of Juliana’s award-winning series: