“I was seven when I started writing in my diary. It was in the middle of the civil war and the basement of our building which was a clothing factory became our shelter. From my little window I could see the snipers aim and bombs falling on Beirut. I was so affected by the war that I would write down everything I saw and felt. My diary had a beautiful green cover and it became my best friend, my all time confidant. Every time I finished writing I would hide it as a treasure so no one could find it. At some point our neighborhood became a hotspot. Bombs were flying around so we had to flee. I was afraid of losing my diary so I hid it very carefully in the shelter where I was sleeping. One year later, when we returned, the building had been rebuild after all the damage of the war. The first thing I did was look for my diary but it was nowhere to be found. For many years I searched until at some point I came to realize that I would never find it again. I couldn’t write for a long time. I felt that I had lost my story. Sometimes, I still stand in front of that same building and I feel like that 7-year-old-girl again who wants to go into the shelter to try to find her diary, to find her story.”
(Beirut, Lebanon)

7

7

‘’I studied marketing in Ethiopia. After graduation, I worked for a while but I wasn’t making enough to provide for my family. I heard about an agency that was recruiting people to work in Lebanon so I applied. Leaving my 2-year-old daughter behind was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I came to Lebanon on the 29th of December 2007. When I arrived, a lot of things were different from what the agency had told me. I didn’t know that I would become a domestic worker and that I would work seven days a week in family’s house. The first 3 months I barely stepped out of the house. I had no idea that I had the right to have a day off. After 3 months I learned to speak up for myself. The family I worked for ended up moving abroad so I started working for another family. I don’t want to talk about my experience with that family but it wasn’t good, I ended up running away. I am now working for my third family. I am lucky because they are good people. The hardest part about this job is that my mother raises my daughter and I am here taking care of other people’s children. In a few months I will be going back to Ethiopia for a visit. I am so happy to see my daughter again. In those nine years I have only been back once. She is 11 years old now. I have to accept the situation as it is. I will do anything to provide for her, even if that means I don’t get to see her grow up..“
(Beirut, Lebanon)

2/2 “My parents had four children and I am one of them. When I was 8, my father decided that we should move to Lebanon in order to reconnect with our Lebanese heritage. When I was 18, I met a boy and we started to go out. It was the same year that my parents decided to move back to Venezuela. My mother said: ‘’Lulu, this guy seems very nice. Why don’t you marry him and stay here in Lebanon?’’ I told her that I really liked him but that I still wanted to study. She said that I could always go back to university once I got married. I thought about it and I decided to marry him. I really liked him. He was an architect, a gentleman and most of all he really respected my freedom. After one year our son was born. I remember the years that followed
as a period filled with parties, having a lot of fun and living life to the fullest. Seven years after my first son was born I got pregnant again. After I gave birth to our second son, I received a letter from my mother and it said: ‘’Have you forgotten about university?’’ She wrote: ‘’Even though you have a husband, you need to be able to take care of yourself. Make sure to have a diploma in your hands.’’ That is when I decided to go to art school and I became a painter.”
(Beirut, Lebanon)

8

8

½ “I am going to tell you a little love story. Like many Lebanese my father was born in South America. However, every summer my father would go back to Lebanon to visit his family. One time during his visit, he was walking through the neighborhood and he saw a girl on a bike. He instantly fell in love without approaching her. He asked the neighbors about her. It turned out she was a Lebanese girl who lived in Egypt. My father could not forget about her and he decided to travel to Egypt to find her. When he arrived he asked every Lebanese person he met if they knew her. Eventually he found her and asked her dad if he could marry his daughter. Her father was a very liberal man and said that it was up to his daughter to decide for herself. She agreed to go out with him for one month so she could make a well informed decision. After one month of dating she agreed to get married and move with him to Venezuela..’‘ 
(Beirut, Lebanon)

3/3 “I always wanted to learn how to play basketball so I googled: How to play basketball? in Arabic. I only got English search results so that is when I realized I needed to learn English. Since I only had an education until the age of 9, a lot of basic things like reading and writing or knowing how to use a computer is really difficult for me. I found out about free classes at the Migrant CommunityCentre in Beirut. I took English and Computer classes and I met a lot of people from different backgrounds. One day I met a volunteer. She was a therapist and I told her my story. She offered me free therapy sessions. For three months straight I would see her every week and I would talk to her about my past. She helped me a lot. All my life I was raised to believe that I was a ‘’nobody’’. It will take a long time before I can feel that I am ’‘somebody”. I don’t need to be better or smarter than other people, I just want to feel that I am equal to others. Learning English has given me a lot of confidence. I have found a nice place to live and I made a lot of friends her at the Migrant Centre. I know that my life will improve, all I got to do is keep on educating myself’’
(Beirut, Lebanon)