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A close view from the outside

31/10/2019|Evelina Llewellyn

“Maybe nothing will change but I have missed feeling hopeful” - Joe Zakhia, Lebanese, 25.

When I arrived in Beirut in October 2018, I had many - commonly held - misconceptions and beliefs about the country and its people, a result of the European education I have received.

Looking out of the aeroplane window during my descent, gliding over huge blocks of concrete skyscrapers perched on a clear blue sea, I already had the feeling that I had a lot to learn about Lebanon.

A student at Gobelins, l’école de l’image in Paris, I had come to Beirut to undertake a thesis documentary, studying the impact of the country’s difficult history (a civil war that raged for more than 30 years) on “The children of the after.”

I fell in love with Lebanon’s people, their resilience, kindness and above all the country’s complexity.

I had, however, been deeply saddened by the situation of the young people of Lebanon; it felt like a whole generation had given up on a more promising future.

13 days ago I was in the streets alongside all the people I have come to love in the past year shouting “Thawra” / “Revolution”. The same people who over the past year had told me that there was no hope for change, that they had given up and would not demonstrate on the streets.

13 days ago, the government went a step too far adding unfair taxes to a population already indebted because of their governments corruption. Small protests started all over the country, rapidly turning into a national “revolution”. I am not Lebanese, and never have had a particular attachment to the Arab world, but after a year the feeling of revolution was inside me.

I have lived for the past 5 years just near to the Place de la République in Paris and have witnessed protests daily. However I have never lived through such a happy, manifestation of hope.

Although I have just turned 23 I have travelled quite a bit, but never have I so rapidly felt implicated in a country’s destiny. Lebanon welcomed me as if I was part of its family and I could not imagine being anywhere else through this time of change.

A c o u n t r y s o d iv i d e d between rich and poor, different religions, different political parties, have reunited as one for a national cause. Old and young, from the Bekaa to the sea, singing, dancing and chanting.

The faces that I knew so well have changed. Hope for a brighter future is in the air.

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