Winning the Eisenhower Fellowship, an honor and a responsibility

I am getting ready for an exciting two-month journey with the Eisenhower Fellowships, Women Leaders Program 2015 which will take me to Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Sedona, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Like my explorer ancestors, I will be touring the US’s top local and international organizations, public and UN institutions, corporations and politicians to “explore” new ways to advocate for gender equality and equal rights for all. This journey will help me examine existing international conventions and US developed tools and strategies to make more impact on the gender reform agenda for Lebanon and the MENA region.
Throughout this fellowship, I will be posting photos, comments, blog posts and reflections and welcome your feedback and suggestions. Receiving the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship is a great honor, but it is not a personal award; as you know me well, I will pay it forward! It is indeed winning an opportunity for the Lebanese Civil Society’s voice to be heard in the US and an excellent occasion to highlight all that my fellow activists have done so far and to examine partnerships and collaborations with the US, UN and international institutions.
I depart on this journey with a profound sense of pride in my fellow activists who are taking it to the streets in Beirut to speak-up against corruption, injustice and every undemocratic action the existing Lebanese “war-lords” politicians and their allies have used to hijack the first democracy in the Middle East… When I am asked, I will do everything I can to make your voices heard and your demands, our demands, properly underscored.
I am looking forward to this exciting journey and I know I will come back with lessons, tools, ideas and partnerships that will allow us all to work together for a better and inclusive society in Lebanon! Winning the Eisenhower Fellowship is an honor but also a great  responsibility. I have so many people to thank for mentoring me and supporting me in preparing for this journey, I shall thank you all by making the best out of this exceptional opportunity! Philadelphia, here I come!
Click here for my Eisenhower Fellowships introductory bio available on the Eisenhower Fellowship website.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Is Anybody Listening?

The International Community, the US, EU and the UN commend Lebanon for being cooperative and receiving more Syrian Refugees while allies of the EU and the US such as Jordan and Turkey have taken a clear position towards closing their borders in consideration of their national security and incapacity of managing the what we know now is going to be a long crisis with no ends or solutions any time soon.
Yes, Lebanon is commanded for being collaborative, but in reality it is commanded for being weak and unable to take a firm position toward a crisis that should be the responsibility of the International Community and not just that of the 4 million Lebanese.
If the international Community is REALLY concerned about the Syrian Refugees safety and security, they have two options: either provide them with the needed 400 million dollars monthly to ensure their bare survival in Lebanon or host them in their own countries. But to push Lebanon to receive more refugees and to refrain from providing them with support, then accuse Lebanese of xenophobia and racism is pure hypocrisy!

What alarms me the most is that I am seeing more xenophobia among the most liberal of the Lebanese civil society, simply because what is happening is just inflicting worry and hardship to all Lebanese throughout Lebanon. What is even more alarming are the hypocritical comments of some NGO leaders who are benefiting from the donations and support given to the Syrian Refugees and who continue to mislead the international community about the reality of the situation on the ground. This is the beginning of a crisis which will impact seriously Israel’s security too. Maybe then the international community will look at it more seriously…

The below article from Eye on the East says it all. Please take a moment to read it!

Eye on the East

Talking about the growing, or rather alarming, number of Syrians that have sought refuge in Lebanon since 2012 is very tricky. There is a very fine line between the humanitarian aspect of the issue and racism and intolerance, from a population that should know more than anyone else, the meaning of war and the pain of having to leave one’s home behind.

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