One day you are driving to work, living in the neighbourhood you’ve grown up in and been to school in, you’ve been to university, maybe are married, had a family, bought a house. You’re employed and have a wage. Then political unrest sweeps through the country and people start carrying guns and fighting starts. It’s unsafe to stay so you are forced to leave. You flee. How would you cope? How would your family cope? Where would you go? What conditions would you be prepared to live in, and for how long? What conditions would you expect your family to put up with?
Lebanon has an incredible lineage of cultures, in the midst of so much history. In Lebanon today, there are an estimated six and a half million people. There are four million Lebanese, half a million Palestinian refugees who’ve been in refugee camps for over 40 years, and around two million Syrians who have arrived in the past five years.
These last few years have been an incredible change for both the Syrians and the Lebanese. Many of the Syrians are people whom Australians can easily identify with—middle -class families, living urban lives. They’ve fled their homes and jobs. They left in their cars, or buses or taxis. Whatever it took at that critical moment when the decision to flee had to be made, when the threat of violence became too much. Many had little idea of what conditions they were heading towards.