Beirut, October 29th, 2019: 18-years old Roula is experiencing protests for the first time. The university student from Beirut is happy to see protests sweeping across the country, because she "never thought that the Lebanese people would find the courage to stand up against politicians and their banker friends."
After a month of protests, do you feel confident about the future of the movement?
To be honest, I get really scared sometimes. I was talking to a friend on WhatsApp the other day, and she sent me videos of people shooting guns in Jal el-Dib. I told myself: this is how it starts. You know, I grew up with stories from my parents about the civil war, and I’m sure it’s not out of the question that the Lebanese would start fighting each other again. Why? Because the political parties make sure that people remain afraid and hungry. And they manipulate them to make them compliant. If they [the politicians] say shoot, people will shoot, believe me.
But I have a feeling that our generation might be different. We have a more open-minded view of the world and we know that our country can do better than this because we’re seeing other countries moving in the right direction. Take Tunisia, for example: They got rid of their dictatorial regime in 2011 and now have free elections. Women there have taken up space to voice their opinions.
When it comes to Lebanon, I’m not entirely sure. This could be the beginning of something horrible, or it could truly change our lives for the better.
As a young woman from Beirut, what are your main concerns?
I have an older sister and two older brothers. All of them live outside the country now, and all their friends are gone too. I love my country, and I want to stay close to my parents, my grandparents and my friends. But you know, it’s scary because I know that there are no jobs out there and that once I graduate, it will be a plunge into the unknown without any guaranty of ever finding work in my field of studies ever.
I don’t come from a rich family, and when your family isn’t rich or important, that means that in Lebanon your chances of making it far in your life are pretty low. That’s how it is and that’s what needs to change.