Posts Tagged ‘Lebanon’
I was born in Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa). It’s an amazing country. Used to visit Lebanon from time to time, until April 1996. Here’s what happened:
It was a Saturday morning, my father left to his work, my mother was preparing to leave to work, and I was to accompany her. Her boss called and asked her to stay home that day, because it wasn’t so safe. We stayed home, I finished my homework and was playing with my next door friend. It was noon time when we heard gun shots in the area, and people in the market (which was close to our house) panicked.
Some time later, my father came home early. People were closing down their shops, supermarkets, offices, etc. and heading home for safety. We never thought it would be violent. About 6p.m., as my father was hearing the news on the radio, the cat went crazy for few seconds and there was a bang. It was a bomb that hit the building behind us. We were sure, then, that war broke out. We searched for the safest place in our house to hide. It was getting darker and more noisy. Our neighbors next door (a Lebanese family) were also hiding in the safest place in their home which happened to be behind our wall. When it was a bit quiet and dark enough, we crawled to get out of the house and went to our neighbours’ so we can be together.
There were other Lebanese families in the neighbourhood, one of them had a big store (it was groundfloor), their house ontop of it and underground warehouses. They called us so that we would all stay together in the underground floors. We grabbed our stuff and went.
One day, when it was a bit calm, my father went home to get some stuff. He had some cash in his pocket, it was all we had. A rebel got caught of him and threatened him. Result? He took the cash and my father’s watch. Gladly it was all what that rebel cared for.
One good thing about that period of time was food. Why? Our neighbours, the ones that owned the warehouse, owned a supermarket. So part of the warehouse was for the supermarket’s goods, which ofcourse is mostly food. We had all kinds of stuff and for free.
We were informed that the American Embassy is taking refugees to other countries. The decision was that wives and kids should leave immediately. We packed our few things that were left, said goodbye to my dad, and left. It was hard. Do I have to mention what we saw on the sidewalks of the street? No, I don’t. No need to tell you about the ugly scene. When we got to the embassy, a security personnel ran towards us and said: “See that helicopter that just left? It was the last one. It ain’t coming back. Don’t bother yourself. Stay in the car and leave”. On our way back, a group of young rebels (about 20 in number, aged between 11 and 19) stopped us. They were drunk and looked hideous. Some of them said “If you move the car we’ll shoot you” the others said “If you stay here one more second we’ll shoot you”. We were dead meat both ways. I don’t recall how, but they managed to agree and let us go. We’re alive.
We reached the warehouse (our safe place) and went back to the routine that we were living for the past 10 days or so. Eating, drinking, playing games and keeping our heads safe when the fight was strong and violent.
One day, some of us were in the house (floor 1) preparing lunch, and the rest of us stayed in the groundfloor. When lunch was ready, they called us to have lunch, but we couldn’t climb the stairs because it was literally raining gun shots. We waited, hopping that we will have lunch in a short time. Then there was a big knock on the front gate and a loud voice. We knew that it was the rebels. They entered the house and stole some stuff, killed the African guy that used to work for the owners of the house. We were downstairs hearing every single footstep. We were extremely worried that they would find about us. My father closed all the gates that lead downstairs, and he hadn’t the keys to open them. We were trapped, and our only way out of there was a small gate that leads us to the river. My friend managed to escape from the rebels and ran down the stairs, but since the gates were closed he couldn’t reach us. He had to hide under the stairs. Thank God the rebels didn’t pay attention to him and none of them followed him. They left and we were in shock and frightened. We spent that night in the warehouse (underground) though it was somehow calm outside. We had no lights on, only candles. The owner of the house remembered that he had the portable radio (walkie talkie) disconnected and thrown all over the house when the rebels came in. So he went back to the house and searched for them, he managed to connect one and he called some friends.
That night was long. Next day morning, some people came for the rescue and they took us somewhere safe. Then we were informed that there’s a ship that will take us to Sierra Leone. It wasn’t a passengers ship. It was a carriage ship, which means no place to sleep. But someone rented a bedroom from an employee and gave it to us. So we, the women and children, 11 in total, spent that 36 hours in that bedroom; and the men spent it standing between the crowds under the rain. To make matters worse, we were attacked by pirates (I wish Jhonny Depp was with them, *sigh*)
We reached Sierra Leone, and preparations were made for all of us to stay in hotels until they can arrange a plane to get us to Lebanon. We spent about a week in Sierra Leone, then we were on the plane to head to Lebanon. We left the hotel early in the morning, to go to the airport. By noon time we were on board. But I was so hungry, and they won’t serve food until the plane takes off. As soon as it did, lunch was served. It was “riz w bazella” (rice with peas soup). It was very hot, but I couldn’t stand it anymore, I ate; and I will never forget the taste of that dish, it was so delicious.
When the captain announced “Welcome to Lebanon”, we all clapped and cried tears of joy and hapiness mixed with the feeling that we are now safe.
That was 14 years ago. When I said to myself “14” it seemed a huge number, but infact it’s just like yesterday.
We are all looking forward when God’s promise is acheived: “…they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore” Isaiah 2:4