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Samir Roger Makarem's car in a mechanic workshop in Mount Lebanon. Photo courtesy Samir Roger Makarem.

The painful reality of Lebanon’s economic crisis

Driving through one the villages of Mount Lebanon to get my car serviced. I stopped at a particular mechanic shop to get Freon put into my air conditioner. The mechanic on duty referred me to another workshop in the neighboring village as not all places provide such a service apparently. After driving through those winding roads, I finally find the place.

By Samir Roger Makarem
I pull in, step out of the car and suddenly hear a voice greeting me with enthusiasm.  I look at the face and lo and behold, it’s Hussam, an acquaintance that I have known for quite some time.  Wearing his blue overalls and a bandana wrapped over his forehead, he was just standing there waiting for the surprise on my face to subdue. 

I have known Hussam Nassar to be a university lecturer, a writer, a Human-Rights activist, and most impressively a researcher who’s about to complete his Ph.D. studies in Anthropology.  The last thing I would expect him to be doing is working at a mechanic shop, obviously. I was so surprised and proud at the same time, however.  

Although the mechanic shop that happens to be located in this mountainous village of Baisour in Mount Lebanon is owned by his dad, Houssam has now taken over the business and is actually running the shop.

After having realized that life in academia in Lebanon is now unfortunately at a ridiculously pathetic level from a financial perspective, he took it upon himself to change careers for the time being. Having earned his undergraduate degree in Electro Mechanical Engineering, Houssam has taken a drastic change back to his former interest.  

It is so unfortunate that the economic collapse that Lebanon is now experiencing along with the ongoing financial and banking fiasco that it’s also facing on an ongoing basis, is simply forcing a lot of Lebanese to completely slam the breaks on any career endeavors, future plans, dreams, and ambitions, and instead, seek alternative careers just to make ends meet.   

However, this only proves how persistent, determined, and gritty a big number of Lebanese are when it comes to facing all kinds of adversaries.  A person like Hussam, who probably has had the opportunity to just give up, pack up and leave to some other country that would have probably welcomed him with open arms, he simply refuses to surrender to the unfortunate status-quo that Lebanon is currently bleeding from. 

A lot of Lebanese today, like Hussam himself, refuse to just give up.  With their unconditional love for Lebanon, their super will-power, their creative mindsets, and most importantly, their attachment to this beautiful country, they are doing whatever it takes to make it work here in Lebanon.  Having the courage to face all kinds of challenges, they easily adapt and go for alternative career paths with pride.

I mean, here’s a person like Hussam, who appreciates and values the skills, competencies, and talents he fortunately possess, goes out of his way to capitalize on such blessings and makes something out of his life. 

Just recently, I read a beautiful article titled “Why you should have at least 2 careers” that was written by Kabir Sehgal back in 2017.  In his article, the author talks about the importance of learning new skills and competencies, broadening your network horizon, and striving to discover really creative solutions by committing to two or more divergent careers. 

When I read this article, I could only relate it to Hussam and to so many Lebanese out there, including myself.  When you wholeheartedly follow your interests you will bring passion, love, enthusiasm, and innovation to your new careers.  This will only make you more fulfilled as a person and will only make you stand out in the crowd, especially during turbulent times.  And, of course, by engaging in more than one job, you may very well end up doing all of them more efficiently, more passionately, and more lovingly.

This is the Lebanese spirit indeed I now realize.  Kudos to Hussam and all the Lebanese who will do whatever it takes to prove themselves to the world and move on in life with pride, love, and respect. After all, Lebanon was able to withstand and endure all kinds of challenges.  This mess will for sure end soon.

Blessings from Lebanon, the land of love and the land of the cedars

Samir Roger Makarem a concerned Lebanese citizen. Other stories from the same author can be found here and here.

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One comment

  1. Excellent article to the heart and reflect our situation !

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