‘I come from a simple family. In Lebanon, in my case, ‘simple’ means that I was born in a rural village, that we lived on average means, and that I was raised by my parents to run a family. It also means that I was a refugee twice. Once as an eight year old girl, from the village in the south where I was born to the town of Aley, just north of Beirut, during the civil war in 1975. And once as a young woman from Aley, back to my village, during the air war with Israel.
It’s probably no surprise to you when I say that in the midst of all this I married a soldier! That’s right, it’s a classic love story too. When we found shelter in the south there was a handsome soldier who would march by our house on a regular basis. Guess what I found so great about him. His uniform. I managed to get into contact with him through his brother. He became the love of my life and we’ve been married for 35 years. I love him more than anything in the world.
Being ‘simple’ in Lebanon is not about what you have or haven’t been through. Every single person has lived through dramatic events. And what you learn is that family survives – no matter what. You also learn that value is not really in the kind of status that income or profession can give temporarily. My father for example is 90 years old, but nothing of what we’ve been through has taken away his passion for life. He still drives around in his car and he’s still facing all the challenges life throuws at him head-on.
He has taught me to be proud. Of the southern village I hail from, which may be rural but which also is home to many international organizations. Of the fact that I’m a mother and run a household. You know, I always wanted to find work and attain goals, but I never did. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to give. I visit the elderly and orphans and I serve Syrian refugees, trying to bring them together. I’ve raised my daughter to be a strong woman who can help me with this work.
What is it that makes a woman strong, you ask? It’s her personality. You have to be kind always. To welcome people and accept them. It’s always about what’s on the inside. The outside you can change. Put on make-up and make yourself pretty, but a woman who hates others and judges them will never be beautiful. And no matter how simple or modest you are – a woman who is rich on the inside will always be stunning.
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'What is it that makes a woman strong, you ask? It’s her personality. You have to be kind always. To welcome people and accept them. It’s always about what’s on the inside.'
Dalal, 50 years old
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