Born from a French mother of Vietnamese-German origins and a Lebanese father, Caroline Torbey is on a never-ending journey with a message: spreading Francophony and empowering women in the Lebanese society. Her books and press publications have won her many awards, further proving her belief in a woman’s ability to achieve.
Beirut on the 4th of August is at the heart of her latest work “Éclat d’Une Vie”, a testimony of life and death that the author shares with Azyaamode’s readers to highlight, besides the women power of resilience, one fact: the other chance at life after a disaster.
If you had to describe “Éclat d’Une Vie” in a short sentence, what would it be?
I would describe it as a testimony of life about one of the most significant events of our century, and the journey of a young woman who had a brush with death in every meaning of the word.
After the trauma resulting from such a catastrophic explosion, how did the title of your book take such a positive turn?
The title has 2 facets : the first one represents all the glass shards that exploded the day of the disaster covering every corner of Beirut, and the other one means a “sparkle”, a light seen in the immense darkness of this day and I won’t tell you what the light is, you have to discover it by reading the book. Otherwise, I will ruin the surprise.
The title took a positive turn as I found out that within all the despair brought by the blast, there was a beautiful tiny piece of hope that rose from the ashes, and I decided to hold on to it in order to heal.
As a Lebanese woman, what are the challenges facing you in your home country and how do you see your future in this land?
In my opinion, the first challenge today is actually wanting to believe in a potential future for Lebanon. Through my book, I describe how Lebanese are trying to cope with daily struggles in their home country, from humiliation, abuse and fear to mood swings and PTSDs. I’m deploring how we are left alone by the international community to face the death of our country and the slow genocide of its people, not to mention the fact that we are exposed to a lot of insecurity and risks led by increasing poverty. In this challenging situation, we are not living, we are surviving.
The second challenge I personally face is more career-oriented. As an ambitious person and a female author, I find it really difficult to grow and make a living from my passion at the moment and I cannot blame it on the people. When today some are struggling to buy their need in meat or pay scholarships, I can’t expect people to purchase books or even attend conferences and talks. I’m trying as much as possible to remain inspired, and contribute to the “Cultural resilience”.
What really makes me stay here is the energy and the will of my generation to get its country back. They are more and more conscious of our need for change, a REAL one. I believe that this change will eventually happen, although it might take time.
In your opinion, what can Lebanese women do to drive change in their country?
At the beginning of the THAWRA (the Lebanese “Rêvolution” as I like to refer to it), women were on the front row of the protests. They led the movement and gave it a pacific yet extremely strong dimension. I was so proud of the women of my country at that moment. I encourage them to keep on being entrepreneurs and leaders, to remain strong yet soothing, to keep talking about their country, taking actions and launching initiatives to help their people. I also encourage them to educate the youngest generation as much as possible and to teach them the values of the Lebanon of tomorrow. Freedom comes first and foremost through education.
What is the message you would like to communicate to other women, whether in Lebanon or anywhere else in the world, through this book?
The experience I count in this book really made me realize how strong a woman can be when the life of her loved ones and hers are threatened. I personally fear a lot of things in life, and I have plenty of insecurities. If I had to be a spectator of the whole Beirut Blast experience, I would have never thought that, as a direct victim, I would be strong enough to go through it not only physically, but most of all morally.
I would like to tell them that despite darkness, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel and only they can find this light or even create it. No one will ever do it for you. And most of all, let us always be there to help each other, to lift each other up in bad times, to gather force.
How powerful women can be in today’s world and what message of encouragement would you like to communicate to our female readers?
I would have never thought of experiencing such a catastrophic event as “Beyroshima” in my life. I always think that those things happen only to others. Being a powerful woman gets you through tough times you never knew you would be strong enough to go through. We all encounter difficult times in our lives. We all cry, we all have our weaknesses and fragilities. However, I strongly believe that powerful women “turn their vulnerability into their greatest strength” and that’s why a powerful woman is unbeatable. One of the messages I’d like to communicate through my book is that no matter how difficult a situation can be, no matter how hard it is to go through, you must face it and you will find a way to do it. Never give up, never underestimate your capacities and your “instinct of warrior”. You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be.
Article Written by Mirella Haddad