Original Artwork by Amira Al Zein

When your world keeps getting harder and harder, where do you run to? When the future looks uncertain, is it still worth anticipating? When you live in an era where your children have no chance, what do you do? When emotions run wild and are ready to explode, how challenging does it become, knowing that they won’t be reciprocated? When your existence is threatened in a place you call home, is it still where your heart is? A thousand questions and more come to mind in a person’s quest for security and stability. Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel?

“Home is where the heart is,” they say. But what happens if one is forced to make a choice in leaving or staying? Were our forefathers wrong to migrate in hopes of a better life or were they right for choosing to stay despite the difficulty? I believe that there is no right or wrong answer to this. For years, people have been making challenging decisions to ensure the best for their families. We have proven to be resilient when facing obstacles that come along the way. Sometimes, leaving one’s home may prove to be a blessing in disguise. People often tell you to save yourself before toxicity and negativity consume your being. It is the forced abandonment and rebuilding a home again that are the hardest challenges. It is the constant feeling of fear and uncertainty that eats you. You see, we humans have always been inclined to feel a sense of belonging. Belonging to a group of people, a country, a place, a culture, a tradition, and a belief. Moving to an unknown place means that one may be vulnerable to lose a part of their identity as they aspire to blend into a new society.

“BLUE – with the same color of mine,” is an artwork that I drew years ago while growing up. The time when I witnessed my parents dreaming and longing for their loved ones back home. Growing up away from home does take its toll on you. Torn between your homeland and a new society, there are many conflicts we face along the way. Blending in has never been easy. People who migrate experience a lot of emotional rollercoasters that can impact their mental well-being, including the loss of traditions, religious values, languages, and social support systems. The number of sacrifices one must do to adjust can be unbearable. You lose your identity, piece by piece, hoping you don’t lose yourself in the process. But it is needed to survive in your new “home.”

Many immigrants have migrated just because it was their last resort for a better life. Perhaps, being thousands of miles away does not make a difference and, indeed, their hearts are where they should be. What does it feel like to be blue? Why are the days sad and gloomy? Blue because it’s the only color that makes sense. To the outside world, you may be smiling but deep inside, you are drowning in never-ending thoughts. People struggle in doubt of the what-ifs. What if we stayed, maybe it would’ve gotten better? Is it wrong to escape knowing our brothers and sisters are fighting an impossible war against corruption and instability? The saying, “Enough is enough!” brings no justice to what our beloved country is facing up to this day. As a Lebanese citizen, I hold this topic close to my heart. The voice of the voiceless people crying over the remnants of destruction is echoing in our ears. 

I admire the strength of those who choose to stay. Even without knowing the outcome, they remain an inspiration. They fight for basic human rights and freedom from the clutches of social evils, demanding a change. They are those who may pave a way out. Yet, they also feel lost and alienated amidst all the chaos. Those who leave are also admirable as they stand in solidarity with their loved ones. When the world witnessed the last revolution, it was the perfect blend of peaceful protests, a silent cry that was heard loudly by millions. It created a huge impact around the world where our brothers abroad extended their people’s voices through more protests. Despite the miles of distance, we carry the same hope. They make us proud when they contribute to the betterment of society, wherever they may be. The millions scattered across the globe continue their efforts and achievements in many fields. It remains a fuel for the enhancement of our future generations. I believe that it is what they were meant to do – if only given a chance – in their own homeland. That is why it is only a matter of time until they are back. The aspiration of going back home will always be there, no matter how long it takes. 

Finally, we as people share the same feelings when given tough choices in life. Life is hard and only gets harder. It is empathy that we need today rather than judgment as every person fights a silent battle. The struggles of people will always be the epitome of inspiration, a rare gem amongst the rocks. If we choose to stand tall, strong, and united, then perhaps maybe, we can go back “home.”

By Amira Al Zein

Amira Al Zein is a self-taught and aspiring Lebanese artist and writer. As a Project Coordinator and Relations executive, she has years of experience in the Education and NGO fields which have greatly influenced her passion to create awareness and advocacy. During her career in the UAE and Lebanon, she continued to collaborate with different NGOs and organizations for the betterment of children, women, education, environment and others. Hence, taking a long pause of several years in pursuing her dream of being an artist and a writer. Amira has been writing poetry, articles, non-fiction, essays, reviews for several years now but has decided to pursue it more along with her art recently. She believes that there are no limitations as long as her ideas/concepts are represented in her work.

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