Green Village Lebanon Team
Today was a special day for me, as well as for the team. We officially opened the Green Village Lebanon. For some of us, it’s been almost a year that we work on this project. Some of us recently joined the adventure, a few weeks ago, and surely played their part. Once again, I not only understood why I was doing this mission but also why I had chosen to renew it last Autumn despite the lockdown and weeks of doubts.
During my first mission, I was working as a Coach in India. It was a wonderful experience, where every single day was full of surprises and amazing encounters. My spirit was lifted throughout the year, and each experience allowed me to become a better human being. I wanted to get those undefinable sensations back. Deep down inside, I have been waiting for this October 5th since the very first day I set foot in this mythical country that Lebanon is.
Since the beginning of the project, nothing was easy though. Lebanon is currently facing one the most serious crises of its history. Since the Revolution in October 2019 (Thawra), troubles just keep piling up. As if they could never really disappear. Covid, as well as the terrible explosion of Beirut’s harbour in August 2020, wounded a population already in pain. For months now, Lebanese are fleeing their country reluctantly. The catastrophic economic situation placed about half of the population under the poverty line. The Lebanese pound lost around 80% of its initial value, leading to an incredible inflation. As a result, most of middle class families cannot afford to eat their fill.
In this context, I questioned myself on our usefulness in such a slump. How would people around us react to the idea of us helping Young women find a decent job, as almost a third of young graduates are currently unemployed? What would they think about our mission, when entire families currently struggle to eat properly and want to leave the country? The gas shortage, as well as limited access to electricity and medicine, plunged entire families into indecent living conditions. Would those families accept to let their daughters leave their home, when religious communities are gaining importance in the Lebanese mosaic? During our first months in Sourat, many locals welcomed us. Yet they also warned us about the complexity of implementing such a project here.
And finally, we got into it, sometimes without really knowing where we were heading. But we always had the unique idea in mind: try our best to give back to this country that offers us so much.
We fought to build this project on a long-term footing, capable of helping all those young women to design their future in their country. We fight for them to gain self-confidence, give them hope that one day the situation will get better. And that when this day will come, they’ll have all the keys to succeed in life and be part of this new generation that Lebanon so desperately needs to rise again.
Weeks and months were needed to set up this Green Village.
Find a building capable of hosting 60 Youth at the same time, take the decision to focus on women only, equip the center and build its furniture required for the project’s sustainability. Develop the partners’ ecosystem, ready to accompany us all the way in the adventure, create a pedagogical strategy adapted to the Lebanese culture radically different from ours and the ones in Asia. All of those steps were challenging and long, in a critical global context.
So today, when the Young women came down from the bus and set foot in front of the Green Village, I experienced a strong emotion. I had forgotten about those shy smiles and sparkling eyes, and I missed them. They filled me with energy and bravery. They had a lot of courage to leave their families, and even sometimes their children and babies, to live in a new place they knew nothing about. With Young Women they never met before. Deep inside, I know they made the right choice. They’ll live an amazing experience, which I hope will change their lives forever and will allow them to believe in a better future.
For Nagham, Shaima, Iman, Aya, Bushra, Batoul, Rayane, Marlene, Bayan, Diya, and all the others to come who will join this fabulous project.