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MY DECLARATION : HANIA CHAHAL
For the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Greater Lebanon, Agenda Culturel is providing the cultural, business and medical Lebanese figures with a platform to share their thoughts and emotions, and proclaim their own statement, one century later, and one month after the ruthless apocalypse that befell Beirut.
Agri-Food Marketing Economist
How do you perceive Lebanon’s 100th anniversary?
I had this image of Lebanon in my head, as a beautiful Lady who may be growing in age but still wakes up everyday fresh, and ready to face the day, with elegance, style, and beauty. But this image has been fading, and on it’s 100th anniversary I see Lebanon as an old lady with hunchback, lonely, in need of nurse to help her in her daily ritual, something she used to do all by herself. I see Lebanon today as this woman in the elderly house who has family but do not ask about her, or even care of what she has become, just waiting for death to inherit. This is where I feel we are today, not celebrating 100th anniversary but just counting days…
How did you experience the catastrophe of August 4th?
I was out of Beirut, field trip, when the Catastrophe happened. I drove the second morning and all along was just observing and looking at the destruction, all in disbelief, not really comprehending what happened. I reached Achrafieh to check on friends, and all I could see is damaged buildings, old or new, as well as broken windows and door… The sound of shattered glass being swiped still rings in my ears… August 4 is not an experience that we can just put behind us and move on. No, it’s a ticking bomb inside each of us, waiting to explode… this is how I see it.
Do you consider that Lebanon can become a real nation?
Lebanon has no choice but to be a real nation. We have been ruled by parties for a long era, parties that have worked on” divide and conquer”: dividing the Lebanese more than uniting them, parties that have put their own interest ahead of national one. We all have reached to the belief that no one party can rule Lebanon, no one party can have ultimate power. This is the first step towards becoming a real nation, and we have done that first step (maybe not all of us in same way), we just need to continue without looking back and without waiting for any external help, just moving forward!
Have you been considering immigration, or is Lebanon your final destination?
I have lived abroad during early days of my career, appreciated the culture and quality of life offered in these various countries. I believed that Lebanon had the potential, just needed leaders that believed in it. I still believe that. Lebanon is my home, my final destination. Immigration is not an option for me, even if sometimes I just feel like dropping everything and leave. But I am attached to Lebanon, and more so as it is my home country, home where my family and friends live as well. Every time I visit a village or city, talk to its people and walk through it, I feel even more confident that this is where I want to be in my life. I have the right to live with dignity in this country I call home, the right to work and enjoy life. Above all, I want to do so next to my family that I love and as well as my friends.
In these historic days, what would be your own « Declaration for Lebanon »?
I wish for Lebanon to stand up on its feet and show the whole world that despite all what it went through, the country is able to rise again and be a wonderful warm home for its people. I wish for all Lebanese children to have good education, to have access to fair work opportunities, and to love their country with all their hearts, doing what is possible to have bright future in Lebanon. I also wish for Lebanese women to be empowered and have all their rights granted, their roles recognized, their leadership alleviating the country to a higher level. I declare that I will continue to give Lebanon the best in me: work hard to protect its environment, save its heritage, appreciate its culture, and modernize its agriculture sector, a vision I have for the future of this country. Will it become a reality? Will it remain a dream that can never come true? Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, giving up on this country is not an option! ‘ The Show Must Go On!’