Dear expats, looking around, we can’t recognize our own country. I can’t imagine how you’re going to feel, especially if it’s been more than a year since you last visited.
You will feel like we’re feeling: strangers in our own country.
We know how hard it is for you to be away from home during these difficult circumstances. I’ve been an expat once, and I know how every morning you wake up hoping that the previous night in Lebanon was a stable one and you will not wake up to bad news.
We know that living abroad is hard, and we know that you do your best to help your families and the country whenever you get the chance.
When you reach Lebanon, you will be shocked at how one year can change a lot; we are literally in a free fall.
I will just ask you to be aware of your reactions when around Lebanese residents; we know that your comments will not be out of heartlessness or out of lack of empathy, but because you will be as hurt, if not more, at what you will see. Your comments will be out of shock, surprise, and disbelief.
We’re actually very excited for you to come home. And no, it’s not because “you’re getting dollars with you”. It’s actually because you will remind us of what home felt like before everything fell apart.
So please, don’t come and tell us how bad our situation is; this situation is our reality. We are aware of how bad it is.
Don’t come and tell us “kif 3ayshin?” The answer is “3ayshin.” We cannot explain how because we don’t know.
Don’t come and tell us how everything is in order wherever you are coming from. We know, we’ve been wherever you are settled and we know.
Don’t come and convince us to leave; when some are choosing to stay, others are thinking about leaving every single day. You’re just saying it out loud.
Don’t ridicule those who choose to stay. Some are choosing to have “one last fight” on the ground for you, for our home. Others don’t really have the luxury to choose to leave.
Just don’t. Don’t ask us to explain anything. We are just as confused as you are.
Don’t start nagging about the country before you even reach it. If you are dreading it that much, don’t come now. Wait until Christmas. What you are temporarily nagging about is our day-to-day life.
Just hug us when you see us, a big hug. We need it badly. Make us feel like everything is okay.
Let’s go for drinks and talk about life. About mind-challenging topics. About love. About ambitions. About ideas. About dreams.
We can discuss our home, but let’s analyze what went wrong, what our parents did wrong, and how we can fix it. Let’s talk hope.
We don’t need you to pinpoint the obvious, what we are avoiding to tell you when you are away for us not to worry you. We know. Trust me, we know.
Most importantly, act the way you act abroad. Be responsible. Wait for your PCR results to turn out negative to go out. Don’t be careless. Even if it’s chaotic here.
Set an example. Educate people around you. Raise awareness. You have no idea how much we are counting on you in our next “fight”.
We are counting on you to save us by voting. You are detached from the corrupted bubble we live in. You have experienced how it feels like to be given your basic rights and more, to be respected as a human, to have your potential appreciated, to grow because you are believed in and invested in.
We are counting on you to get our home back, together, the Lebanon we all dream to build. And I know that, once we do, most of you will be on the first flights back home.
For now, home will not feel like home to you. But you will feel like it to us.