27 August 2020: Annahar Newspaper
I have come with one purpose, which is to unite rather than divide.
– Dr Shane Geha
Lebanon has had enough division and the efforts of the WLCU are aimed at helping victims.
Dr Shane Geha an Australian Lebanese of the new generation, possesses scientific talents and nationalistic attitudes and a social vision, that he has brought with him, to use in his capacity as President of the World Lebanese Cultural Union of New South Wales. He aims to serve in those matters as they relate to the WLCU in Australia: the secular country that respects the rights of the individual and its organised and ordered society.
And Dr Geha is educated, balanced and sober, regarding the challenges that face the Cultural Union. He has started the resurgence project in this organisation, which gains its legitimacy from the diaspora, so as to affect its repair after the negligence that has befallen it administratively. He has the determination and commitment of members dedicated to the defence of the Land of the Cedar and its sovereignty, liberty and independence. And also, the rights of the diaspora and its legitimacy away from political settings. And the job of rejuvenation, as Geha says, is a large task, that he has taken upon himself with the support of his administrative committee. The Committee brings together already-known, honest and able faces. Amongst them is the Vice President Pierre Chami, and Secretary Petronella Fakhry and Treasurer Richard Melki and Board Members Laudy Farah Ayoub, Hassan Sakr and George Bousamra.
Dr Geha will also collaborate in his organisation with the president of the Geographical Regional Council Mr Michel Doueihi and World President lawyer, barrister, Steve Stanton and his deputy Sheikh Joe Arida. And he confirms that the aim in this effective coordination with these three tiers, is to serve the Lebanese nation and the diaspora with an open mind and a unified vision that does not distinguish between one religion and another or between one person and another.
Dr Geha says that “the Cultural Union has passed through many obstacles here in Australia and overseas and it has faced challenges but it remains the legitimate voice of the diaspora, which makes it the ultimate strategic outfit for facing difficulties.”
“In my opinion, my main mission is to unite rather than divide. And we have to speak with one voice, the voice of unity and not division because our mother nation has had enough division and also the diaspora. And our main task is to find common ground to serve the rights of the diaspora and to serve the mother nation in Australia – the secular, forgiving nation that we respect. And in return, we respect its constitution and sovereignty and we don’t forget that all of the diaspora is proud of their history and its origins. But the matter often is lost in practice. And that’s why it is incumbent upon us to maintain this pride and especially here in Australia, as we possess enormous capabilities.
And what the Romans have proven throughout history, is that an army protects the nation, but its longevity is achieved through culture and dialogue between all of its constituents.
And our aims are many, but I will summarise them as two:
- Accentuating the cultural values that connect us with the Australian culture; and
- Creating occasions that bind all with the aim being not just having fun but helping those less fortunate and the poor and the orphans and the unfortunates and the refugees in these problematic, health, living, and economic times. And this has ended with the destruction that has befallen Beirut, our beloved but sad capital.
And if one works methodically, then one will find support from everyone and success has three ingredients:
Firstly, the availability of skills and abilities. Secondly, the concentration. And thirdly, patience to reach a set goal. And I would like to reveal that we have collected from benevolent and generous people a sum of $35 000 and this is still continuing. And the aim of collecting these donations is to help the needy and the victims of the disaster that has befallen the port of Beirut. And we will send the first payment of $12 000, to support needy families with a food hamper to reach each family. These will be 240 separate hampers.
And the second distribution will be in the form of bags of wheat and sugar to be given to those bakeries that will be feeding the poor without charge.”
“This is from the humanitarian view, what of the cooperative attitude that you will have with the community?”
“We look forward to full interaction with the community by understanding their needs especially the youth. The next generation is the main pillar upon which we will hold ourselves. Because the previous generation has given and toiled and we are thankful for it for all its sacrifices. But we have to depend upon our youth to take over the drive to fight for our history and they will comfort our pains and support our rights and raise a voice for the sake of Lebanon and humanity and combine their daily lives and the defence, for Lebanon and its sovereignty and its continuity as a nation. The organisation is the cornerstone of institutions. It is what allows it to continue and to prosper and this is what I’m trying to do with my colleagues currently. In trying to rebuild the Cultural Union administratively and re-organising it. It is a large institution needing a renewed administrative effort. Its members should be able to rely not only on a constitution and principles alone but also on strong and solid administrative and legalistic administration.
And I ask those members of the community to cooperate with us as we do cooperate with the Regional Council headed by Mr Michel Doueihi and the World Council headed by Barrister Steve Stanton and with him the World Vice-President Sheik Joe Arida, as well as all the Australian branches. And we aim, all of us, to serve and to do good universally. And this is what I learnt from my father who brought me to appreciate charity.
“What is the message you would like to give to both the diaspora and to residents?”
“I say to all, Lebanon is valuable and has been entrusted to us, and it has cultural, historic, and educational values, which should not be lost. My call to both residents in the diaspora: protect Lebanon for it is precious. And we have to cling onto these values because Lebanon is the gem of the Middle East, a gem without compare. And it is a nation that has given the world thinkers and authors and geniuses and artists that have spread throughout the world and have served their mother nation as well as their host countries. And away from sad the sad feelings that engulf us today I call equally upon all to have endeavoured. And what is known about the Lebanese is that they are individualistic, but we have to work together collectively because our country is calling for us. So, answer its call.” In the end, members of the NSW state committee expressed a view on the importance of the task at hand especially at a time when Lebanon is injured. But that it will rise again from the rubble and the pain and the death because it is a nation that has lived through troubles and challenges and at the end, it will prevail. And the committee made a humanitarian plea to all those who wish to donate to the victims and the needy of Lebanon to donate on wlcunsw.org.au.