I have been working on “Twice Upon a Time”, a documentary film about my childhood during the Lebanese Civil War, for some years now. The film is finally about to come to a conclusion.
For the fact that you grew up during a war there is no changing. You will always have grown up during war. What can change is what you make of that experience.
On Friday, June 20, 2014, I got an opportunity to meet people who were making the best out of it!
I was invited to attend a lecture by Dr. Joseba Achotegui, Professor of Psychiatry at University of Barcelona, Spain, and author of “Ulysses Syndrome” and “Ulysses Scale for Refugees”. The invitation came from the Veteran, Immigrant & Refugee Trauma Institute of Sacramento (VIRTIS).
Between emails and in-person introductions, I managed to meet around 40 or 50 people that day at the lecture and the informal exchanges around it. That on its own is a fantastic achievement for someone like me, but it was not the highlight of the event for sure.
My favorite personal high note of the event was the fact that most of the people attending the lecture and all those esteemed professionals working and volunteering at VIRTIS today were war or trauma victims themselves.
At that time, this was a great unifying and defining trait about those in the room.
Today, when I come to think of it again, I find it all the more reassuring and uplifting.
These were people from all over the world who must have witnessed some war horrors or traumatic situations along the journey of their lives. Today, they are all doctors, engineers, professors, businessmen, or successful professionals working towards the improvement of other refugees and trauma victims’ lives.
When I wonder about their pasts, I see things I don’t want to know about. When I look at their present today, I feel that I want to raise them high and show them to all the sad refugees and war victims living in horrible conditions all over our planet.
Thirty years ago, in July of 1984, life was not beautiful at all for my family and hundreds of thousands of other families in Lebanon.
If somebody at that time had come and told us that we will be where we are today, we would’ve ignored them at the very least.
I wonder sometimes, when I feel so helpless towards all the refugees, specifically those living in Lebanon today, what can we do to tell them that even this, this too shall pass…
And will it?