“Describe a time in which you were faced with problems or stresses which tested your coping skills. What did you do?”
Lebanese business school graduate Mansour Habchi stared at the question for a while. To any Lebanese, “problems” and “stresses” are no strangers – especially not in these times. Rather, they are more than close acquaintances at this point.
Not a conversation in Lebanon is overheard but being one of complaint and dismay at the current living situation.
Like many graduates, Habchi has no choice but to seek employment outside of his home country.
“I love Lebanon with all my heart and that will never change. But the things I love about it (family, friends, food, friendly people, etc.) are crushed by the incompetence of Lebanon as a (failed) state,” he told The961.
“A country should at the very least provide its people with security and opportunity for work. That’s not asking a lot. And yet in Lebanon, it seems like asking for the impossible. What is happening in the country is crushing any hope of a bright future out of us. I lost hope. Completely.”
He is not alone in this feeling. Hope is difficult to come by in today’s Lebanon where the atmosphere is full of unrelenting despair. Morale is low and tensions are high.
For those on the outside, it may be easier to hang on to hope for Lebanon and their fight may be stronger. They don’t have to breathe the misery that fills the air above Lebanon.
“I feel that I should break the shackles of this abusive relationship that is being Lebanese in Lebanon and the only way to do so is to leave,” Habchi expressed.
“On the other hand, I also think it’s the worst time to leave because I wouldn’t be doing it by choice but by force. I have the impression of being deported and being kicked out of the place I love because nothing is asking me to stay and everything is pushing me to leave.”
“I’m scared, angry, and exhausted all at the same time. I’m seeking to work abroad not because I want to but because I have to. I don’t want to see my life pass by while I’m waiting for something that is abhorring to the ruling class: change,” he said.
“This country cannot provide me or anyone with the most basic of needs. At least by applying to jobs, I feel like I’m moving forward while the entire country (in the political and economic sense of the term) moves backward,” he concluded.
Habchi has a master’s degree from ESA Business School. He also studied in Paris at the IÉSEG School of Management as part of an exchange program offered by ESA and came back to Beirut to find that everything had changed.
Like Habchi, who had the chance to become the business developer of Lebanon’s first digital rental platform, Ajjerni, there are many young brilliant minds that Lebanon is at risk of losing.
Leave Your Mark
But, finding a light in the darkness, there is something Habchi said in his interview that should be a beacon to all those struggling and it is this:
“I came to find that the best way to cope with all the stress and chaos around me was working to have a lasting impact on my direct and indirect surroundings, something that I will keep doing in the future.”
An impact. It can come in any form. It can come in a smile to a neighbor. A message to a friend. It can be sharing a job opportunity with someone who might be interested.
It can be impactful to buy items from a neighborhood dikkene (mini-market) rather than a large supermarket. To shop local products. To donate clothes or household items.
Small actions can make a big impact – this is how Lebanese cope.