Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/Reaching Vrinda in Lebanon
While I was busy with the first year of the Eugad project Vrinda had changed job, and Nations. She had not been treated well by her Oxfam boss in Sierra Leone. He actually wanted only Sierra Leoneans in the working in managerial positions with Oxfam in Sierra Leone and he created troubles for the “expatriates”; something really against all the principles of international cooperation for the development; and in fact with that approach, he finally messed up the whole Oxfam program in West Asia.
I suggested Vrinda to work ful time for the Eugad project. But she thought that that is too much a “risky project” and at least one between the two should do something safer; that Armadilla cannot be fully trusted (at least financially); and that if she got an assignment in the Middle East we would have had much better logistical infrastructure there. The money allocated by the Eugad project for logistic in Syria was theoretically sufficient for the shooting time; but we needed much more effort for preparing the ground and for really involving the Syrian partner. That required for more time and was not budgeted in the project expenditures.
So she took up a job as manager of a Usaid sponsored programme in Lebanon. She was right in her prudent approach. I really missed her working closer with the Eugad team. But the logistic support she could provide to us in the Middle East by having accepted the post in Lebanon gave us much more solidity in the region. And an escape route from the “intensity” of Syria, whenever needed.
So we met in Lebanon. I was following the costal route. So I crossed the Syrian-Lebanon border on the road between Tartus and Tripoli. We met at a restaurant near Byblos, on the sea side. A beautiful evening. Then the last 60 km on the bike in the Middle East night enlightened by a shining moon. Until the arrival in Beirut.
At the beginning I did not like Beirut at all. Over constructed and apparently deprived of its own cultural traditions, in its haste to sell out everything to Saudis, Qataris and whoever has the money. The fantastic position between mountains and the see had made over construction even more devastating, leaving no space for roads, parks, heritage …. And breathing space. But gradually Vrinda thought me the wanders of Lebanon. By the time we left Beirut, one and half years after, I was in love with that city and have been longing to go to it again.
I understood later that over construction was the most evident consequence of the war, which had made impossible to make participated and sustainable plans. And the lack of protection for one’s heritage is the most evident result of internal social conflicts amongst the different components of one’s history. Sustainable economic planning and heritage protection require a healthy communication and cooperation climate: and that was what had been most deprived to Lebanon in the past 20 years, since the consequences of the conflicts in Palestine spilled over into this beautiful ancient land.