The Libya I Love

نوفمبر 8, 2017 أ. فرج محمد صوان

It is almost six months ago that some nice men brought me into the airplane for leaving Libya. They had an order and till today I still don’t know who gave the order and the reason behind it. All this happened after keeping me for 17 days in custody at Mtiga.

The end of 2011 was my first meeting with a couple of wounded Libyans, men at a hotel in the Netherlands full of questions. They stayed for a few days in hospital for medical treatment, and then they heard they can go back home, because …. And this is one of the many questions they had at that time. They didn’t know, there was no medical treatment yet and still them was told they will go back to Libya. Not knowing the language, the area, actually nothing, they were highly stressed. Like many men all over Europe they showed normal behaviour, but they are not from the easiest men too. The only thing that they also showed me is how beautiful Libyans are.

Till today I still don’t really know why and what made it happen that my heart is in Libya. Before I visited Libya for the first time in 2012, my heart was pulling and after it, it never wanted to leave. I was lucky that plane was almost empty when I left in 2012, I cried for more than 30 minutes.

Now I’m outside Libya where I lived till the Ramadan of this year. The country where I experienced a lot of joy. The country where I also have memories of good feelings and not the danger feeling were all others are talking about. Of course there are moments and places in which you have to be more careful. Something I’m used to and is also normal in the Netherlands. Indeed it was possible that something might have happened to me in Libya, like a car accident. In the meantime, I only have the experience, not only by myself, but also by the many observations and stories of others, to know the great normal behaviour of Libyans to help others. By example cars stop in the middle of the street watching an old lady begging for money and a young guy running out of the car to give her some money. And without any problem, there are a lot others waiting. Trust me, don’t do this in the Netherlands, because you will have a huge fight.

At the end of 2015, I wanted to be there sooner, but I didn’t get a visa earlier so I had to wait at Djerba at that time. After that I drove my car to Libya. Many people had already asked me for support, for guiding, coaching or teaching, and they still do. However, I’m not a teacher and I wanted to support teachers to increase their teaching skills. Not only by getting them out of the country, but also by supervision, and guiding them in utilising their own strengths. They know how to teach, like most other Libyans. Their knowledge is huge and amazing. The interesting part, but also the painful one is that most of them don’t seem to know or trust their own knowledge. In fact, when someone doesn’t know or trust their knowledge, it will be hard for them to use it.

From the moment I met the first Libyan till now, I am still learning. Libya inspired me greatly and gave me examples of possibilities. Possibilities of change for the Netherlands and how to deal with its own challenges, like many other countries in the world. Possibilities of change for the Libyan challenges. However, most Libyans are in a stage of not knowing yet. They feel the problems, but faced with the challenge of where and how to start solving them. Of course this is another challenge. One of the admirations of Libya I’ve, weather it was with the men I met in 2011 or my first visit in 2012 or hearing Ali Zeidan on TV in a meeting in Davos or the Libyans now, all know and dare to say that they have to start by themselves and together to initiate the change they hope for. This strength and knowledge of recognising that you will never be able to change somebody else if they do not change by themselves. All I can say as change specialist, this makes me happy. Feeling and hearing people saying this, that requires courage is a wealth in itself. Nevertheless, the very painful thing is feeling and seeing that confidence is missing. Moreover, perceiving the lack of support and trust within the society, as well as realising the scarce support and assistance from the international community is depressing.

No one can give trust, hope, and knowledge from a distance. Now, for more than 3 years, everyone is outside the country. Millions of dollars and euros are spent. The many people who once followed a course, prepared a workshop or a meeting for just embedding knowledge (which is already there most of the time) are not found in Libya nowadays. The friendly words about Libya and of being in Libya, are all true words and experiences, but they are only said when one is not in Libya, but in the ‘safe’ side, outside Libya! This is not trust. The most needed thing in Libya is trust.

It’s also not important in the meantime. Libyans must dare to have trust in themselves, and learn to see and remember their own strengths. This is normal, and if people see their strengths, they should try to increase it. This is what I do in life and did in Libya. Al Eureka, the organization established at December 24, 2013 (Libyan Independence Day) is an education-knowledge centre and not a cover for other work or for me. I have travelled alone in Libya by my own car to see other people, meet them and listen to what they say, as well as supporting and helping them if they wanted. My money is gone and I’ve now only my car and some little stuff (all in Libya and I’m at Malta). However, I still work many hours like I did before, by supporting others in and outside Libya. I’m also searching for a fixed income. I also do the same to get back to Libya and meet my heart to which I’ve always listened. It’s true that I use my mind, but my heart is the most important and most precious thing I have ever had. I am really in need of being connected with it again. I don’t know when this will happen. It seems that my name is clean in all Libyan systems, but the only thing I still have is just a new resident paper valid until June 2018, with a red stamp. I’ve a new passport. I respect any law, including the Libyan one. I will never go without legal papers. It took me a long time before I could start to work in 2015/16. It took a long time to get the registration done. First the visa, then the registration and now, I’ve to start all over again. All that is because I like to listen, help and enjoy. Other huge reason: the fear of the unknown. Not by me, I dare to trust. I only wish that Libyans will dare and listen more to their hearts. Their hearts are amazingly great, kind and beautiful. Some already do, knowing the amazing support I’ve from all over the country. When others will trust, I know not only the Libyan strength will grow, but I also can return soon back to Libya.

Written by Yvonne Snitjer

استاذ علم اللغة التطبيقي واللغة الانجليزية في جامعة طرابلس وعدد من الجامعات الليبية. حصل على الشهادة الجامعية والماجستير من ليبيا، وشهادة في تعليم اللغة الإنجليزية من جامعة سري البريطانية (Surrey)، ودرس برنامج الدكتوراه في جامعة إيسيكس ببريطانيا (Essex). قام بنشر ستة كتب والعديد من المقالات والدراسات والأبحاث.

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