A Ray of Hope through the Dark Clouds of Sadness
People around the world, ordinary people like you and I, have been speaking up, whether by going to peaceful demonstrations or vigils, by leaving their visions and thoughts for a better humanity and a better world on media websites, by adding their names with conviction to cease-fire or peace petitions, by writing letters urging their mps to take urgent action, by working with humanitarian organizations abroad to donate or collect clothing, medicine, food or money or whether by actually going into the field and helping those in need themselves. These actions, these positive, peaceful, humanitarian actions do make a difference put all together. If every single person in the world were to cry out from the depths of their soul and from the depth of their hearts ‘ CEASE-FIRE NOW’, ‘PEACE NOW’, ‘NO MORE VIOLENCE NOW’, whether with Lebanese, French or Chinese accents, their voices united together would create a force of goodness. A force so strong and so convincing that it could bring a ray of hope back to this country that was only a month ago beginning to take flight again. A force so strong, it could bring faith to the people in this area- faith that trees, homes and laughter will once again rise up from beneath the ashes and wipe their tears of despair away.
Of course it will take time. Nobody is expecting a miracle here that would be hoping for too much. Even the once innocent hearts of children have been touched by the cold cruelty of realism. Their hearts may beat passionately and happily once again but in their beating, will pulsate murmurs from this present darkness. Dreams will continue to be haunted for a while. To convince those thinking of leaving not to leave, will take time. To convince those who have left to come back, will take even longer. To resurrect entire villages and towns from their knees and from the rubble they have been reduced to, will take time. To rebuild over a hundred bridges and roads and return them to their once bustling state, will take time. To rescue our once glistening seas from the oil they are now choking in, will take time, experts say over a year. Many are the fish and other sea creatures that have suffered. Much time will pass before we will be able to promise a visiting turtle a safe summer home. Much time will pass before our children can once again bath in the gentleness of Mother Nature’s comfort. It will take time. It will take time. But though it will take time, the strength to rebuild, the strength to re-dream, the strength to recall is there.
Yes… we recall our dream of a peaceful, strong, united Lebanon. We recall the fact the first alphabet was created here in Lebanon and that our nation was once known as the Pearl or Paris of the Middle East. We recall the fact that though Lebanon was destroyed many times before, it was rebuilt, again and again and again, perhaps over seven times.
Like our ancestors did before us, we will not give in to the dark smoke of despair or to hatred. We will stand up again and rebuild. We will reconstruct our dreams and our hopes. Christian, Moslem, Druze or other, we will hope again. This time united as Lebanese, Lebanese with a dream to have a peaceful, strong, united, independent nation.
Not able to sit home any longer between the four walls of my room, I , like many others, got up these last couple of days and joined in the force of civil unity. Encouraged by a friend of mine, I went to a school today, housing many of the refugees who had to flea their homes in the South or in Southern Beirut. Armed with papers, colour pens and a thirst to hope, I spent two hours colouring in with children who more than welcomed me. It did not matter that they were mainly Moslem and that I was Christian for we are part of the same humanity, both Lebanese, both hoping for a better present and a better future. It did not matter that I was a returnee and spoke terrible Arabic. Our language was the same, one of love, one of solidarity. Happy to have something to do, they drew houses and trees and hearts. Many drew a Lebanese flag. My friend and I, Moslem and Christian, side by side, put up their pictures up on a wall in the school. Their dreams to have a safe home, their dreams to have a happy childhood, their dreams to grow up in a peaceful environment should not be taken away from them. They have the right to a happy life. They have the right to live in peace. They have the right to hope like any another child.
A couple of days before, again encouraged by the same wonderful friend, I went to help another group of citizens, pack food for refugees. A group of volunteers stood in a line and we went from one to another with our bags wide open, watching them put in bread, then rice, then lentils, then tomato paste etc. I later went up to another group of people and was welcomed with open arms. Together we sat on some steps and put in milk, sugar and tea in rationed portions in some bags. Raja, a refugee from the South opened the heavy bags for us. We took orders from a nine year old red-hair with lots of freckles. Amani… her face will probably come back to me throughout my life. These moments are certainly leaving their imprint in the albums of my soul.
Many refugees, having to flea their homes and having lost them, have no choice but to sleep in parks, parks with little water, and little hygiene. Many children run around dirty, one was covered in flies. Another group of refugees tried to find refuge in one of these parks yesterday as another wave of attacks was heard. The parks being too saturated, they had to trudge back to the buses and accept to be taken to parks in the North. Food, medicine and emergency kits have been sent from many countries abroad, but not all aid is managing to come in due to the blockade. Even if aid manages to come into Lebanon, it cannot always be taken to the South, where it is needed the most as many of the roads have been cut off. Lebanon… like a kinder toy being dismantled has been cut up into different sections, isolating areas from one another.
I pray, from the depth of my heart, that this call for a cease-fire, that has FINALLY come, will be respected. I pray that this call will last. I pray that this ray of hope will be strong enough to allow the colors of these children’s dreams to come true.
May green trees rise up from the black ashes of the rubble
May red roofs of villages rise up again to house their people
May the white light of peace prevail and take away the dark thick smoke of despair
From the bombs and hatred that have fallen.
May this ray of hope shine on us all, for we all deserve to live a life of peace and of serenity.
12th of August, 2006