A few months back, MB posted the latest news of young Lebanese girl Sofia (under a post entitled – Sofia’s Got a Sister), whose life he has chronicled since her birth some three years ago. In that most recent post, MB listed and linked the previous posts, should anyone now care to recap on what has gone before. MB also announced the great news that Sofia had been blessed with the recent arrival of a new baby sister called Maria.
Around this time last year, MB made another ‘Sofia’ post related to the Feast of St Barbara (04 December), which is an important Christian feast day in Lebanon, the native homeland of Sofia’s AND Maria’s parents – dad E & and mom R; and throughout the Levant. On that feast day, children dress up in colourful dress as part of the celebrations.
And so this year, Sofia and Maria, now three-years-old and four-months-old respectively, dressed up in real Japanese comonos, gifts they received some time back from a family member who had visited Japan.
Approximately two weeks back, on 24 November, the family also celebrated Lebanese Independence day, when the two girls wore Lebanese flag face paint.
Meanwhile back in Lebanon, the political and financial situation has gone pear-shaped since MB’s last ‘Sofia & Maria’ post. The banking system has almost collapsed, with depositors unable to withdraw their funds or transfer their funds out of the country. At date of this post, five people have committed suicide resulting from the related stress and/or onset of deep poverty. There is rumour of an imminent financial ‘haircut’ when the government will confiscate a percentage of all bank deposits, copying Cyprus, who did something similar in the recent past with some success. If the ‘haircut’ will happen, then ordinary people will reasonably ask why they are taking all the pain, when the political oligarchs and elites, former warlords, mainly, from the Civil War days of some 30 years back, have paid nothing from the billions of corruption kick-backs they have salted away in Switzerland over the intervening period; some USD 320Billion according to Swiss sources. Many Lebanese are worried that the situation could actually descend into a repeat of the religiously divided civil war of the past. Let us all hope and pray not.
One local good news story that may be about to break relates to the current travel and economic blockade of Qatar by neighbouring states, which happened on 05 June 2017. In the last week or so, UAE and Saudia Arabia have sent their football teams to play in the Gulf Cup in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. While the UAE flew here via a third country, it seems that Saudi Arabia flew direct, the first direct flight to take place between Qatar and any of the blockading countries in 2.5 years. The Emir of Qatar is also invited to an imminent Gulf Summit in Saudi Arabia by its King. MBs sources tell him that an announcement may follow that summit that the blockade is lifted. Let us hope and pray that it is.
Btw, Saudi Arabia beat Qatar last night 1-0 in the Cup semi-final. Groan!
As ever, despite the political and economic shenanigans, the smiling faces of Sofia and Maria give us all hope for a better future.
Big thanks to mom R for the photos included in this post. Good luck to all from MB.