For one young Maronite protester, hope for a better future for Lebanon
FOR RAI SABA, Lebanon’s massive uprising has sparked a newfound sense of hope for the future of his country. The 24-year-old Maronite Catholic, a mechanical engineer, shared with Aid to the Church in Need his thoughts as one of the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese who have participated in the protests which began October 17, 2019 Fueled by Lebanon’s economic crisis and rampant political corruption, the popular revolt aims for an overhaul of the country’s political system. The crisis took a turn for the worse with the killing of protester by a soldier Nov.13, 2019. Here is Rai’s testimony:
“I’m participating in everything related to this revolution because I finally found some hope for rebuilding the Lebanon I dream of. Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to work in Lebanon so I can be close to my family and to the (ecumenical lay) Christian community I’m part of, the ‘People of God.’ My hope is to raise a family in my homeland.
“I’ve always refused all thoughts of leaving the country to work abroad, but the situation in Lebanon kept deteriorating, shattering our hopes for the future, especially with the economic crisis that is affecting our lives. So many of my peers are unemployed. There are no job opportunities and any available jobs offer very bad salaries. The housing loans were cut off because the money available was taken by politicians at a very low interest rate. My salary is never enough to cover my rent, my car loan, my bills and the high taxes.
“All this led me to decide that it was time to start applying for jobs abroad and to lose all hope for a decent life in my beloved Lebanon. Then, on October 17, the government decided to begin taxing Whatsapp calls. The people had enough of this corrupt system. I received a message from a friend telling me about the revolution that started in Beirut. I didn’t think twice: I went there directly and joined the protests.
“Seeing people from different ages, different backgrounds, different religions and from all over Lebanon, all united together against this corrupt system—that’s all I needed to regain my hope in the Lebanon I dream of.
“The human chain connecting the north of the country to the south was one of the best things I’ve experienced in this revolution. People were holding each other’s hand as if they’ve known each other for a long time, without caring about their religion nor about their past.
“I’m hoping that what we’re doing will put pressure on the politicians to start fighting corruption and to create a better government that will lead to a stable and more prosperous economy in Lebanon so that youth won’t need to work abroad. I love my country, and I want to stay here.”
—Doreen Abi Raad