10 reasons why every Lebanese meghterib should visit Lebanon now
I just returned from a one week trip to Lebanon to take part of the thawra, and find ways to help and support by being on the ground. I can say that being there changed me in ways I did not think were possible. It changed how i look at myself, my country, humanity and rooted me back into the land of my ancestors.
I urge and invite every single Lebanese who lives abroad to do their BEST to take some time off and go back home, now. Not later, not maybe. NOW. Mich boukra. Halla2. And here is why:
1- The locals need you more than you can imagine. People are exhausted, burned out and only starting. You will bring in fresh energy and hope. They will know others care and they are not doing it on their own. I was interviewed by LBCI and the anchorwoman was surprised to hear that I came all the way from California. Some people stopped and thanked me for coming to support them. All I was doing was support us, because I am one of them.
2- Your understanding of what it means to be Lebanese will fundamentally change. On the eve of November 2nd (it was also my birthday), a group of us went to Trablus to support the protests. I was in tears to be in a major city of my country for the first time in my over three decades. I met some Trabulsieh who shared their pain with lack of healthcare services, joblessness and how the bad reputation in the media has hurt their economy and sense of self. I realized that my identity as Lebanese was limited to the bubble I grew up in, mainly a Beirut one. Our country is diverse, big and while we might have differences we all share a love for our country and the right for basic needs to be met.
3- You will meet the activists on the ground. I got the honor to meet activists on the ground including Perla Joe Maalouli and other women who are day and night working on organizing and mobilizing. I also attended some of their meetings, I was able to give them cash and know exactly what it is going towards, in this case I donated to this below event that is 24 hour camping outside of Kahrabit Lebnen.
4- You will be reminded of the karam and talent of your people. I was offered 3arouss labneh by a Lebanese woman and mother who made them herself in the Martyr’s Square. Another woman in Trablous offered to host us for the night in case we wanted to stay till the next day. The art is diverse, powerful and takes on so many forms including performance art.
5- You get to experience the truth of the thawra. And it is hope and change. Everywhere around me people were organizing, helping, and getting stuff done. Somebody needed a dawa daghet, he did not have money, and a number of people went to buy it for him. No there is no 7areb Ahliyeh coming. The opposite. There is a thawra ahlieh against the warlords. One night, down at the Ring, I had ahweh 3arabiyeh with three men who live in Dahhyeh and support Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. We spent hours talking about our hopes, experiences and pains. It turns out we mostly wanted similar things. I would not have had this conversation if I was not there in person.
6- You will laugh until you cry, and chant until you lose your voice. Even more than the memes, the Lebanese are the funniest. One night, there is a full on impromptu band jamming Fayrouz “Nassam 3alayna el Hawa” and I was there singing and clapping with over 50 people I had never met. I did lose my voice that night, bass albe kebir.
7- You will go back and tell the stories, energize the people in your community to do more and find your own way to contribute. Since I got back I have been on the phone with other moughtaribin sharing stories and my energy and passion speak for themselves. I have been writing more, and one of my poems about my experience was picked up by a magazine and made into a video.
8- You will prove the Nizam wrong. The Nizam wants to prove we are divided. By you visiting you will prove to them that we are more reunited. You will prove them that their fear tactics have failed. And that the Lebanese can organically organize and support one another.
9- You will support the local economy. I made sure to consume food at local businesses. I bought gifts for my friends abroad from the Artisanat du Liban. I took service most of the time. The people are in need of any support, and the best way is to buy their products and services.
10- Bonus. You will eat a delicious tabkha at your teta and / or mama.
Lebanon has changed in ways that are irreversible. The change is palpable on a consciousness and heart levels. And that is something that the Nizam will never be able to take away from us, because it is in us.
If you are looking for ways to help, contact me and I would be happy to put you in touch with some of the organizers and activists.