Children of Allah- A Book About Libyans and the Pulling Magnet of Benghazi

I started reading The Almost Nearly Perfect People book by Michael Booth, who talks about his life in Nordic countries and how their daily lifes make them the almost perfect people. It turns out there’s a book talks on Libyans exactly the same Booth’s book.  Children of Allah: Between the Sea and Sahara is written by Agnes Newton Keith. Mohammed AlKeilani wrote perfect words discribing this books.

By: Mohammed Khaled Alkeilani

In the name of Allah the most gracious the most mercifulWhom we seek supportAnd peace be upon the honorable of all apostles

Prophet Mohamed, his family and companions

Before anybody accuses me of blasphemy the Arabic word “عيال” does not mean children but actually means dependents.

The Hadeeth says:”All people are (members of) ِAllah’s household, and the dearest to Him are the most beneficial for their own family”.

Everybody now knows that Benghazi is going through some tragedies but we are hoping that this last one would be the last.
If the blood from Benghazi is the ink used in writing the Libyan history, how is the state going to be as we are now about to write the constitution.
I ask Allah almighty for all of us peace and security.
I wish that this article helps in getting us out of the state of sadness, depression and hopelessness even for only few hours.
Starting off I say:
Some writers have a very elegant and captivating style of writing that makes the reader feel like being invited to a shady tent on a clean pristine beach with cool breeze, and listening to tales making him unable to leave the place even after sunset.

Some other writers have such a lumpish and prosaic style that makes the reader feel as a high school student setting in the seventh session of classes on a hot day for a subject that he hates. All what that student would be thinking of at that time is “Oh what a long day when will it just end ”

The author of this book Agnes Newton Keith is of the first type. Her narrative style of using simple language in short sentences resulting in very powerful expressions gets hold of the reader. When she has to stretch a sentence she does it in a smooth way.

The book was published in 1966 (about fifty years ago). The author was an American woman accompanying her husband who worked for FAO (part of UN ). He was assigned the job of an advisor to the government of the newly created Libyan state.

The value of this book is that it documents the period of building the first Libyan state under the leadership of king Idris. In a similar way we are now building the second Libyan state under the leadership of the free Libyan citizen may Allah provide him with guidance.

I first heard of this book many years ago. I searched for it whenever I traveled abroad, but I found out later that it was out of print, and the only copies are available in libraries or held by whoever bought it when it was published. But it is the will of Allah that permitted me to receive a used copy of this book only few weeks ago and due the effort of kind people whom I pray and ask Allah guidance and mercy for them.

The book is subdivided into five parts in 460 pages of the medium size. The first chapter describes the air trip from Rome to Idris airport in Tripoli in September 1955.
The Libyan state then was the youngest UN state with less than four years of age. The population was about a million people of whom only four had a college degree.

The Gibli wind (hot wind from the Sahara)was the first to receive the author at the Tripoli airport and it was her first lesson on desert climate. She spent several weeks searching for a house till she finally settled in Giorgimpopoli the resident of the families of Americans working at the Wheelus air base. ( Mitiga airport currently)

After settling down she started interacting with the local Libyan population without any sort of transcendence. She devotes a chapter in her book for every one around her including the house boy.

She reviews the Libyan history and describes the economic status of that newly independent state which was more like Somalia nowadays.
Her interest in the history of the country led her to visit many of the historical sites such as Ghadames, Leptus Mangna, Cyrene and Ghat.

It is unfortunate that I will not be able in this relatively short article to cover what is in the book about Ghadames, Ghat, Al Kufra and even Tripoli that had no particular chapter devoted to it because that is where most events took place.
Other cities were briefly covered like horse racing in Zawia.
She also gave some important details about places she passed by in her travel like Uweinat and Washka.
Derna was mentioned within the historical account of the hostility with the USA.
Susa and its historical sites as well as Cyrene (Shahat) had been covered well.
Tobruk is covered in relation to king Idris where he had his residence in the Dar Alsalam palace.
Misurata is mentioned only as a passing point in her travel.
What strikes me about the book is that it conveys the author’s close feelings toward the country, its people and even its animals as if she is part of this place.
During her return trip from the Green Mountain to Tripoli she describes the area after Adjedabia as wholesale death region but at the end of that paragraph she says “Perhaps there would be rain this year In sha’ Allah In sha’ Allah.

The book got hold of me so much and I just wish I could translate most of it.

The author excelled in covering many events that we the Libyans have almost forgotten in our daily struggle.
There are certain aspects of the book that I particularly like:

  • How she described her trip to Ghadames with details of the old houses, the roof tops that were restricted to women and children.
  • How she described in detail the Libyan independence day parade in Benghazi.
  • How she lived the January 1964 riots, giving a view account of someone who knew how that government worked, describing what happened between the prime minister Fkini and king Idris.
  • How she described the El Marj earthquake from the viewpoint of a local family that she previously visited.
  • How she described spending El Eid in Tripoli and then in Benghazi.
  • How she described in detail the wedding party she attended.
  • How she documented the daily living of Libyans including the habit of mixing roasted peanuts with tea.
  • How she felt so united with the locals to the point of nursing their wounds.
  • How she mixed the coverage of her daily events with political discussions about the king and the queen Fatima and about the assassination of Shalhi and talked about Buquwaytin.

All of this in a captivating style using simple words without making the reader feeling any flatter or exaggeration.
She describes things in such a way that the reader feels them being metalized in front of his eyes.
She describes sounds in such a way that the reader feels that he hears them in the back of his head.
She describes people in such a way the reader feels he would know these people if he was to meet them.
Agnes Newton Keith was not only a writer but she was an artist as well. She drew some very expressive sketches enhancing the topic she covered.


Her sketches of the Libyans were not rigid or sarcastic, they were living graphics either smiling or expressing emotions.

 

One can deduce some facts about life in Libya at that time as the case when her Jeep got stuck in the sand.
She started negotiating with some kids to dig it out. When they asked for money she said that “she had two five-pound notes (about thirty dollars) in small purse in her pocketbook”.
What this says is that the Libyan pound was equal to 3 dollars.

As I tried to uncover the religious aspects of her character, particularly in relation to Islam, I found that she mentioned the “Koran” few times.
All was related to forbidden foods like meat. During her travel she gives details of preparing separate meals for Muslims accompanying her.
Another mention of the “Koran” was when a friend of theirs talked about his father marrying another woman and how the “Koran” allows that.
Other than these occasions I could not find any sign of abuse or insult to the “Koran” or Islam.
Even though she showed interest in the ruins of churches and temples she never revealed her personal believes.

From time to time she talks about the political situation of Libya at that time (the sixties of the last century).
The constitution of Libya specifies the existence of two capitals Tripoli in Tripolitania and Benghazi in Cyrenaica.
The government should accordingly move between the two cities followed by the experts who should advise it.
Both the king and the constitution were determined that the government should move. It might be possible to change the constitution she says, but never the king’s will.

The Cyrenaica Defense Force was mentioned in several occasions as this is the force responsible for protecting the king. It is also responsible for the protection of Benghazi.
And it is this force that ignited the riots of 1964.
The Cyrenaica Defense Force however was portrayed differently during the festival of the Independence day of December 24 in Benghazi when this force was the prize of the parade. Mounted on top the camels the soldiers were visibly impressive as the camels stand tall and move quitly compared to the horses and cars.

“The solemn camels with their high mounted riders and their unhurried pace seem to move in a desert vision.”
“Walahi! I say excitedly That’s one thing we will never see in a parade at home!

Thanks be to Allah that we got here before the camels were mechanized ”

While describing that parade she wrote a sentence that deserves a pause. Watching that parade she looked closely at the faces of the soldiers then wrote:
“Well I never saw so many different shades of skin in all my life”
“There is everything from white to tan to brown to black And some with blue eyes too, Berber I guess”
What this means dear Libyans, besides being a clever remark is that we are a multi ethnic society as proved by the different shades of color of our skins. In spite of this we have been living together peacefully except for what is going on among us these days.
I must point out that the author has traveled extensively and has lived alongside her husband in many countries.
She was not like some women of neighboring countries that during their lifetime they never leave the suburb of the city they born in.

Last month I read an article in an American magazine about ethnic diversity in all countries of the world. With the article was a map of world in which maps of countries were colored according to their ethnic diversity.
What surprised me was that Libya ranked among the highest and it scored the highest among all Arab countries.
At first I thought maybe there is a mistake and whoever wrote that is isolated from reality, but upon reading the full article and knowing that the research was done by the Harvard institute for economic research I realized the striking fact.
We are really a multi ethnic society but we have been living together and intermixing peacefully.
This is a grace from Allah, and I hope that we will never reach the point of realizing it only after losing it.
As I am keen not to disperse the topic, I can not publish that map with all the details now.

Some readers may be thinking of the different sectors in some Arab countries like Lebanon, but that is different as all people of these sectors could belong to just one ethnic group.
While the opposite is true in Libya all ethnic groups adopt Islam and one particular school in most places.

There is a famous parable that says “Good Health is a crown on the healthy man’s head seen only by the sick”
In the same way I say that peaceful coexistence in a multi ethnic society is a crown worn by peaceful nations which can be seen only by torn nations or by people of very clear vision like the author of this book.

She covers Benghazi in two contrasting ways.
In the first she says that Benghazi was never much more than a Bedawi village under deemed by lengthy Italian occupation and partially destroyed by WWII bombing, with no trees.
The move to Benghazi was unpopular with everybody, Libyans and strangers. One reason for that was the lack of housing in Benghazi and almost “there is nothing in Benghazi”.
She thinks of her house as foreigners were living in the American ghetto of Giorgimpopoli out-of-town with running water sanitation and garden space and friends to talk to.
Every body was hoping that the government of Abd al-Majid Kubar would fail and Ben Halim returns to power. There was a rumor that a third capital city was to be built in El Beida in the Green Mountain financed by foreign aid money.

“The government in Tripoli existed in organized disorder but in Benghazi in disorganized disorder. If anyone asks for a file he would be given three glasses of tea and a kind word. If he asked for a minister he was told to go to Tripoli, if he went to Tripoli he found the minister in Italy for his health”.

She describes how for three months they were negotiating in Tripoli for a house for rent in Benghazi. By the time they agree to pay the rental fee someone would pay higher and rent the house.

The house they finally got was in an area clean from all trees by goats and later was used as a garbage dump in the Fuihat suburban district.
“Out in our graceless, gardenless suburb of Gardens City it only matters that we have a house, when it seemed for a while that we would have to put up a tent! Although history claims that trees grew here in Roman times, trees and Romans have long since gone, leaving as sole survivors of the arid land, goats, sheep, and Bedawi. The three have combined to destroy, consume, and burn every branch, twig and leaf of possible vegetation”.

“Camels with heavy, creaking loads pass hourly, carefully cushioning their steps with the sway of their torsos placing their great padded feet with faultless rhythm on both sand and rock. Disregarding the road, they pass just outside our gate, their haughty heads undulating smoothly above the wall. their utilitarian, inelegant desert adapted bodies and their disregard for the discomfort of the terrain well merit their supercilious expressions”.

“Meanwhile sheep in all numbers wander about, and if our gate and door stood open they would be in our kitchen; less gentlemanly goats actually assault the gate with evident intention of gnawing their way inside”.

(Warning — If you’re a fan of Benghazi and have a sensitive heart and you are living abroad then please do not continue to read this topic on your own – – else you bear the consequences )

This reminds me of how when we, as young children used to watch the herd of sheep and goats pass by our street every morning when the shepherd collects them from the houses of residents and return them back at sunset
The residents of Benghazi used to keep one or two sheep or goats inside the house.

Our joy is not only in seeing the herd but another source of our pleasure was the different sounds that accompany the herd from the sounds of male goat to the small lambs and the ringing of small bells tied the necks of goats. The shepherd is also doing his part by whistling and shouting at the stray animals whose march on the road provides the Rhythm. And it occurs in three stages, the coming stage when the lambs lead the way, the surrounding stage when we had the chance to touch the young lambs and little goats, and the farewell stage when all the sounds fade away. All of this is mixed with the distinctive smell of sheep and goats.

One of the happy moments for us as kids, was to see the shepherd carrying a small newly born lamb or goat that could not walk a long distance so he carries that young animal between his arms or in his sack while the mother walks very close to him watching her newly born.
We used to get excited seeing some young goats eat the vegetables from the shop on the side of the street. The shop keeper used to get so mad shouting at the black skinned shepherd who feels so embarrassed that the color of his skin changes.

Coming back to our book where we have covered her first viewpoint of Benghazi next we’ll see her contrasting opinion.
In the chapter “The Dump Develops” Agnes Newton Keith gave a totally different account of Benghazi.

“We had called it a dump and hated to come, but our year in Benghazi proved to be one of the happiest of our lives. Here on the edge of the Libyan Sahara we lived a small, cozy life in the little Bedawi tribal village, which dabbled its Arabic feet in Mare Nostrum while its backside was smitten by saffron winds. The shift of capital turned out to be a first-class real estate promotion deal and tides of foreign prosperity poured in on the sandy, red air.”

The fact was that the place grew on you. Its dilapidation, its fierceness, its sadness, its guts, its tattooed Bedawi dames with their high, orange-calf boots and gaudy striped baracans, its tattered, untamed, gentle-spoken men, its enclosed secretive suk, its incandescent salt plains shimmering in the sun, its closer contact with friends and its increased simplicity in living, all took hold of your heart as no big city could.



Oh my god ! ! !
At this point I would like to stop reading and translating the book as I will address a very interesting thing that stirred mixed feelings inside me, it is the magic or the mysterious love of Benghazi. The secret that makes Benghazi beloved by anybody who resides within the city, as if she is a magnet pulling gently anybody approaching.

– Anybody who has not been exposed to the whiffs of Benghazi should excuse my next talk —

But if you have been stung by her passion then welcome to a “hazra” party where we will loosen up and get high on the love of the lover’s beloved.
(Hazra is a Sufi gathering where people through chanting transcend into a higher state of consciousness)

What is the secret of her love:

Is her love from her air ? in Arabic “Hawaha min hawaha”
Is her love from her fragrant ? in Arabic “Aishgoha min abigaha”
Is her love from the generosity of her generous people ? in Arabic “Gharamoha min karmi kiramiha”
Is her goodness from her soil ? in Arabic “Teibatoha min torbatiha”
Is her love from her grains ? in Arabic “Hoboha min habiha”
Is her heritage is from her soil ? in Arabic “Torathoha min torabiha”
Is she like a kind mother whose tenderness is from her milk ? in Arabic “Leenoha min labaniha”
Is her inspiration is from her water ? in Arabic “Ilhamoha min Miahiha”.

People come to her by their will but stay by her will
Her kindliness when leaving her turns into yearning
Notes:
1-Using the pronoun “her” may not be grammatically correct but her status does not permit me to use the pronoun “its”. In English pets get the he or she pronouns.
2- I included the Arabic sound so the English reader would get the rhyme of the expression.

In an article published in 2004 about climate change I described this relation to the city:
“The first thing noticed by a visitor to the city is the serenity, tranquility, its mild weather.
As he starts interacting with the people he will feel the kindliness that will turn into yearning upon leaving the city.”

In the 60’s and 70’s of the last century the residents of the city of Benghazi used to drink from the public water supply coming from the wells surrounding the city which had high salinity. This is one property of this city that all residents of Tripoli know well.
When asked if they were willing to travel to Benghazi, Tripoli residents would say “No; the water is salty”. This is true Compared to the water in Tripoli which used to be fresh.

The established residents of Benghazi used to drink from small reservoirs dug underground in their houses to collect rain water from the roof of the house.
Or some of them collect the rain water in large jars.
People who have such facilities do not talk about them in public as the water was not abundant, but they do not turn down any body asking for fresh rain water.
After the discovery of oil the wealthy started drinking “Bin Ghisheer” bottled water imported from Tripoli, in later years they started drinking the “Kufra” water which was bottled aquifer water imported from the Kufra region in the desert south of Benghazi.

Most people still drink this bottled Kufra water but some do drink from the tab which comes from the “Man made River” (also coming from the south through huge pipeline).
In this period ( the 60’s & 70’s ) the residents of Benghazi along with the rest of Libyans started traveling abroad either as students or working in the Libyan embassies.
When feeling homesick some Benghazi scholars would say “The salt has pulled us” referring to the salt in the water that they used to drink.

As in all big cities some slang expressions become popular from time to another.
There is one description for the city of Benghazi as “rearing the homeless”, which I really do not like with due respect to all who repeat it without really understanding the full meaning of such an expression.
I think that it was true for a limited period of time regarding some refugees who came from the western part of Libya during some harsh and difficult years with drought and hunger well spread. Now that should have been the end of it.

Applying this expression to all its residents and visitors implies an insult.
And it does not reflect this emotional bond between the city and her lovers.
The current residents are the offspring of the first generation of immigrants to the city who were not allhomeless.
They all came to Benghazi by their own will but settled in by her will, and the two wills are under the will of Allah.

This American writer said the place “grew on you”. These words were written in 1966( publishing date ), or few years before that ( Actual writing ) when the city was in ruins.
This educated and kind lady was not homeless and she needed no rearing from the city. She did not come to earn a living, nor to learn new technologies, or religious lessons from the city.She had no motive to be a hypocrite by saying this to please us. She wrote her book in her native language for her people about her travel.

Now if anybody feels offended by what I have written with regard to the expression “rearing the homeless”, I would like them to know that I have presented them with very nice alternate slogans.
With these slogans we may have opened a new page in what I am pleased to call the Benghazi literature.
This new page will not be restricted to this article of mine but this beloved city has among her lovers many gifted poets who can write glamorous poems starting with these slogans.
Some of you readers may want to try themselves, so give it a shot.
Some internet thieves may like these slogans and want to adopt them to their cities or villages.
But these slogans are like Cinderella’s shoes. They can only be worn by this pretty princess.
And the shoe maker who made them is driven crazy by her love.
He has been nourished by her love and grains.( in Arabic “Hoboha wa habiha” ).
He has been stung by her passion and breathed her air. ( in Arabic “Iktawa bihawaha kama tanafasa hawaha” )
His wounds were mixed by her wounds as if the umbilical cord between them was never cut.

I will remind you of what this American lady has said living in the city when it was a waste and its inhabitants were poor and hungry and there is almost nothing in the city.
She loved the place in such a way that makes her say that the year they spent in Benghazi is one of the happiest in their lives and not just the years spent in Libya.
And that all what is in the city “took hold of your heart as no big city could”

Now that’s a remarkable statement.

So what is the secret of this place? And what is this “magnet” ?
The other strange thing about this city is that in here you can find people whose last names indicate the city they came from like: Trabolsi from Tripoli, Misrati from Misurata, Tarhooni from Tarhoona, Awjili from Awjila and so on,
And you will find these names in other Libyan cities as well.
But you will never hear Benghazi or Benaghzi from Benghazi .. why is that?

There is no alternative word to express the origin of Benghazi as in the case of Bani Waleed you won’t expect to hear “Bani Waleedi”, but you will hear the alternate word Werfali.
The same case for Jalo, there is no “Jaloi”word like Awjili from Awjila, but there is the word Majbiri.
So why there is no surname Benghazian in our country ? Excluding of course some Facebook page titles.

This cannot be explained by the difficulty in pronouncing the word as you may hear in Trpoli for example: “some Benaghza live in this villa” meaning some people from Benghazi.
To be fair this does not mean that there had been no migration from the city. After the discovery of oil in Libya there was a boom so some merchants from Benghazi moved to Tripoli. And in the last few years a lot of computer engineers from this city could not find work so they moved to Tripoli because of this horrible centralization policy that concentrated most oil companies, public institutes and foreign companies in Tripoli.

I personally have never heard any last name or surname of “Benghazian”, so what is the reason?
Is it that this is no ethnic race by this name as the city is really a mixture of all races of the country?
Or is it that the city imports but does not export ?
That is this city is like a magnet pulling whoever come inside not allowing them to escape?

So you fans and lovers…

Didn’t I tell you that we will “loosen up and get high” in a “hazra” party?

And you emotionally sensitive folks, didn’t I warn you?

Very well then.
Let’s just dry up what has fallen from their summit onto the cheeks.

To our Libyan brothers who cannot understand this relation to the city and these fizzy emotions I say:
Our love for Benghazi is part of our love of Libya.
But there is something that we do not understand and don’t expect you to understand it either.
How the part is sometimes becomes bigger than the whole that is supposed to contain it ! ! !

We will come back now to our first topic about this author Agnes Newton Keith.
There are two things that bother or hurt me.
The first is that there is no mention of this book or the author in our literature or writings, and there is no street named after her name.
The situation is even beyond our culture. Her honest and loving opinion of this Islamic society showing its bright side in the hardest of all conditions did not seem to please the anti islamists to the point that in many websites listing the works of Agnes Newton Keith there is no mention of this book.

The second thing that hurts me more is that this writer has died in the year 1982 at an age of 80 years, her husband has also died in the same year.
So I have missed an opportunity to write to her expressing my gratitude for what she has done and written, describing for her the state of this country that she loved. I am sure that she would have been eager to hear, and she may not believe the state of the country now.
This lady was not a Moslem, but in her book she had been using expressions that we Moslems normally use like Walahi – In sha’Allah – Bismi-llahi.
The one she liked most was El hamdu li’llah (Thanks to Allah).
She used it to express her own feelings whenever she encountered something she liked.

So I pray and ask Allah to reward her richly for what she has written and done.

Finally I would like to ask readers for an advice regarding a matter that was difficult for me to solve.
I have made a photocopy of this book, so I can keep this copy for myself.
and I would like to give away the book as a gift for the benefit of all Libyans, but whom shall I give it to?
To the National Libyan Library?
To the library of the university?
To some computer center for scanning the book turning it to an eBook that can be easily distributed, and what about copyrights?
To a translation bureau to translate it into Arabic, and once again what about copyrights?
To one of the book stores to photocopy it, and once again what about copyrights?
To a distinguished writer?

I am asking for an advice, so please advise me.

This article should have been the first of thirty articles in a series called “Banquet for fasters” that I used to write during the month of Ramadan on a daily basis.
After what has happened in Benghazi of killings and explosions I expected many writers to comment on the event in such a way that makes the reader sick of reading in the same way that he got sick of television and all the analysts and their shows.
So I decided to publish this article early, as this is the will of Allah to make this article an introduction to the series. Many Libyans have never heard of this series of articles nor the author, because I used to write on the first and most popular board “Alsaha Alarabyia” in addition to http://www.I3jaz.com.ly website.

That series was directed towards the Arab homeland, but this year it will be dressed in a Libya dress.
I have started writing these articles in 2007, but stopped in the years 2011 and 2012 because of what Libya was going through.
The “Banquet” this year will go through a unique development, as it will be written in Arabic and English just like this article, besides the diversity of the topics.
The reason for writing in English is that this “banquet” will not be restricted to the boundaries of Arab countries, because the internet is now available worldwide. And there are many Arab and Muslim communities in all parts of the world, so no longer are there boundaries for thought or communications.

The second generation of immigrants do not speak Arabic well, or they understand English better because it is the first international language.
These communities have friends who inquire about the Arab culture and our way of living, so these articles can lead to more socializing as they give a firsthand account of our lives.
As you may know most translation activities here move in most cases in one direction from foreign languages into Arabic, we never ask ourselves what literature works have we giving back to the rest of the world?

All previous excuses for not translating our works are no longer valid with the spread on the internet and the role that search engines play in spreading ideas. One can barely finish writing an article to discover that search engines have picked it up and classified it.
Translation depends on understanding the “spirit or the soul of the subject”, and the translator is sometimes required to clarify some aspects of an idea, but when the writer is translating his own work as he writes it, that adds more clarity and would really convey whatever ideas the writer intends to express.
The writer may benefit from this in improving his work, as language is a tool for thinking as well as for expressing ideas. Computer translation can not suffice especially between languages of different origins.

Writing in English is not a new experience for me as I have previously written some articles regarding miracles in the Quraan in both Arabic and English languages, but writing about general topics that deal with our daily lives using some colloquial language requires some special handling.
I hope that I have succeeded in the selection of content, for the style of writing, for the timing, and for the websites to allow you the reader to receive my message.

If this article pleased you, then you can expect more of the same during Ramadan every day In Shaa Allah. The cook who prepared this meal for you is now “between his pots and his lines” (in Arabic: baina godoorihi wa sotoorihi)

Peace, mercy and blessings upon you from Allah

Mohamed Khaled Alkeilani is an electronics engineer and a private researcher. He is also a graduate of the university of California Davis, currently residing in Benghazi Libya. You can read the orginal article from here http://www.alkeilani.com/n-coa.html

Enlighten Me and Restart Schools in Benghazi


As the crisis continues in Benghazi, we suffer a lot from multiple issues. One of the issues I mentioned in the previous topic was the educational halt. As a reaction to this stop, appeared many efforts to restart schools and learning cycle. However, these efforts emerged as separate and individual efforts, and they need to be unified in one vast initiative. One of them is called Nauwarni Initiative, and I think it’s the most sophisticated one.

English teacher volunteer gives  classes in different locations including Mosques

Enlighten Me initiative, or Nauwarni, is basically a movement by civil society organizations sponsored by the National Council for Freedom and Human Rights. Their main and the only target is to restore schools in Benghazi. They started with several goals to reach their main target, evolving on the current situation in Benghazi and how to embrace the crisis and restart the schools. They developed several goals, and theses are some of them:

  • Restarting education in schools located in safe areas: More than 75% of Benghazi is under the army control, and these areas are safe and contain large numbers of schools. Most of these schools are untouched. Others have some less damages in some parts due to some near by clashes happened in previous months. Nauwarni asks officials to reopen these schools in order to catch up with the current academic year as long as these areas are totally safe.
  • Restarting education within schools occupied by refugees: According to Nauwarni, there are more than 40 schools occupied by refugees. However, most of these schools are not occupied 100%. There are empty classes, and the courtyard could be used as one large outside class. In order to restart learning for students who live in these schools, Nauwrni is welling to provide teachers and schools supplies to these schools.
  • Students who are now living outside Benghazi should enroll in schools: Nauwarni says government should track these students in different cities, such as Al-Marj and Al-Bida. They must develop a process to make sure it is easy for students to enroll with no burden of official papers and other things.
  • Checking with students who are refugees outside Libya: Some families had to travel outside Libya, most of them in Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan. Nauwarni demands the government to check on these students by contacting with Libyan embassies, to make sure they catch up with their studies.
  • Re-activate “Home Education” system and launching a TV channel: In 90s, Libya had a system called Home Education, which focuses on learning only at homes. Parents who are able to teach their kids at home, could register their kids in this system. At the end of the academic year, they allowed to take the final exam as the regular students. This system was supplemented with a local TV channel broadcasting only classes. Nauwrni thinks that it is the best time to re-activate this system again as the war continues. There are many parents who are welling to teach their kids at home nowadays. Nauwrni also now working on launching a TV channel on Nilesat. They start recording the classes and should be broadcasting soon. There are other online courses, such as Benghazi Skype School, but the current internet fluctuated speed in Benghazi makes it more difficult to follow with these classes.

To this moment, there is nothing serious attempt to restart schools in Benghazi. The only and main issue is the security. One of the school administrators told me that it’s our responsibility to provide the safe environment for the kids. Parents will hesitate to send their kids while they can listen to sound of explosions. He describes the issue of security as the main issue, fearing that these kids could be targeted by terrorist attacks.

I believe it is important to keep these students safe, but we have to deal with education safety first. We’ve seen images from Japan after the Hiroshima bomb showing kids in damaged classes (Or even no schools at all) . If we have, for example 40,000 students, our goal should be to restart learning at least 50% of them. In other words, reducing the damadge in the education system as low as possible.

 

Benghazi Is A War Zone

It’s almost 8:00 pm, sitting home with no power, no gas in my car, and no cooking gas to eat heated food. The only things keep my body warm are the four layers of clothes I wear right now. I have exactly 40% of battery in my laptop, which motivated me to write this post and to make me busy and thinking free of the sound of clashes and explosions outside.

It all started in mid October, when Gen Khalifa Hifter decided to move forward Benghazi to free it from some terrorist organizations who have taken over the city the last months. I am not going to write detailed information, most of people who watch the news know what exactly happened. Despite the debate and political arguments everyday, there are ordinary people living everyday different life in a war zone.

Mostly in the morning, I have to walk to the adjacent bakery to get some fresh bread. Before, getting fresh breads in the morning was as easy as getting a cup of coffee from the nearest coffee shop. But now, I have to stand in line for 30 to 45 minutes to get some breads. Why is that happening? According to some spokespeople, there is a scarcity  in flours. The reasons of this shortage are the financial situation in Libya that prevent the government to import flours quickly, and most of flour stock located in the war zone within Benghazi, which makes it harder. Eighty percent of Libyan food depends almost on bread. It’s like Mexican people depend on tortilla, or Asian people depend on rice. In other wards, I have to get bread in the morning to eat something during the day.

When it comes to the bread, it’s something extra for several people. I am talking here about sick people who have to go to hospitals in order to get some medical services. This became nightmares for many people. Kidney department, which is a place for many people to get dialysis at least three times a week, was closed due to clashes close to the hospital. Lots hospitals are closed because of their locations in the war zone. The other working hospitals suffer from medical supplies shortage. The reasons are the same with the bread problems, which are finical issues lead to delay importing the medical supplies and the war zone. They are not the only issues, working hospitals suffer also from the number of medical staff as well. As we know, most of medical staff in Benghazi’s hospitals are foreigners. Most of them fled the country because of the unrest. In addition, many of Libyan medical staff had to leave Benghazi and to be refugee somewhere else as their homes located in a war zone. It is also difficult for sick people to drive as there is a gas shortage.

A lot of Gas stations are shut down, as there is no gas coming. If one gas station opens, I would wait in line no less than 5 hours to fill my car. I see people are making BBQ while they are waiting in the line. I’m bringing my books to read. The shortage of gas  issue started with closing the main commercial port in Benghazi due to clashes inside the port. Therefore, ships loaded with gas now have to port in Tobruk. Then, workers empty the gas in tank trucks and ship them to Benghazi. The main problem is that Tobruk port cannot handle this amount of operation as the port designed to deal with particular number of ships.

Cooking gas became luxury in the previous four months. It is impossible to get a cooking gas cylinder. Again, the similar reason with gas, ships loaded with raw cooking gas have to port in Tobruk’s port, with less ability to operate enormous numbers that serve a city as Benghazi. How people of benghazi get over it? by not using gas stoves. Instead, they use stoves work with electricity. People start to buy small stoves with one or two heads to use it everyday. But that does not keep us away from problems as we have constantly power cut.

In these four months, which is the coldest months in the year, we suffer a lot of power cuts. Power cuts at least 2 hours a day. We had many times when we got Black Out on the whole city. Sometimes the black out lasts for more than 48 hours. I couldn’t figure out reasons cause this power cut problem. The only reason is the war zone.

Prices of goods soar up as the port is closed. All goods now have to be shipped from other ports in Libya, resulting extra cost. Therefore, prices of goods went up. In addition, prices of Dollar to Libyan Dinar also went up. These expensive goods make people spend a lot of money, so they must get the money form their bank accounts into their pockets.

Many banks within the city are closed due to the security issues. Only a few are open outside Benghazi. You can imaging when people go to get their money. Yes, again you have to stand in lines no less than two hours.

Schools are closed, and learning for kids has stopped. Children should get some education as they are fast growing brains. There are some schools are open, only because some refugees families stay there. These families suffer from all pervious things (bread, gas, cooking gas, education, and power) in addition to leaving their homes.

I became well-known with sound of clashes, gunfights, shilling and loudly explosions. This became typical in my life as the war continues. The only anxiety is to be hit by random gunshots or falling mortars while I move around. That day, I was home playing with my little baby girl, only five months and four of them with this crisis, when noisy explosions erupted. Fragmented pieces of metal and shrapnel hit my home making intense damage. A mortar has fallen in front of my home, no one injured. This is the only fear of everyday when you live in a war zone.

Several people ask me to leave, to find another life away from this chaos. The truth is that I never stop thinking of leaving. But something inside me keeps telling me that all this going to end soon. Telling me the future will be much better. This war will end soon, and we will live normal life. Optimistic! Oh yes! I have no doubt, no worry, it’s only a dark could and will go away, and the sun will rise and shine again. This is what I can see in people’s eyes here in Benghazi. When I talk with them, they feel optimistic about the future. It turned out the same sound inside them keeps telling them it is going to be all right. We all trust in Allha.

Updated:

This video shows a 4 hours in the morning. Note that things is getting much better.

 

What Does A Successful Country Look Like?

When it comes to Libya, I usually try to find ways to measure and improve my environment. One of the tools I found  and I was fascinated with is the Social Progress Index.
How to measure a country as if it is successful or not? One answer is by GDP. GDP is the income per person in a certain country. In other words, GDP is how much they earn annually. Using this tool to measure is what we know today. For example, Usually people say Turkey is becoming a developed country that their GDP had doubled. As a result, using the economic growth as a tool to determine the success of a country is the most reliable way.

According to UN, Libya GDP is $74,597. If we compare Libya GDP with Jordan GDP, which is $33,596, we interpret that Libya is more successful than Jordan, which is not true. Jordan is more successful country in this time than Libya as it is becoming failed state. Because of Oil, Libya economically more successful that Jordan. Thus, taking the GDP as a measurement tool is not accurate.

Many efforts have emerged to measure the success of a nation. Social Progress Index is one of those and the most popularity.

This tool measures the basic needs of people lives, such as food and shelter and how it reflect on their life quality. The main purpose  of this tool is to show how every country does.  Additionally, it’s good tool to define problems in a nation and  to solve it.

The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the quality of lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress. The Social Progress Index provides a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool to guide countries’ choices to enable greater social progress and foster research and knowledge-sharing on the policies and investments that will best achieve that goal.


Social Progress Index measures these principles:

For Libya, it’s hard to define the problem, especially with this huge empty land. Brazil, for example, is huge land with high population, they use the Social Progress Framework to define and locate problems in more than 200 municipal. As a result, they improved life quality in many areas that suffer before.

Unfortunately, Social Progress Index doesn’t measure Libya among the other 50 states in 2014. However, we could adopt the methodology to reach the quality and equality among Libyan cities.  Officials could use the framework to figure out where is problem in many cities in Libya. There are many places, especially in the south, face real problems in terms of life quality. It hard to notice the real problems, and it’s too difficult to find the shared hidden problems in different geographic locations. So using this tool to measure the overall life in these places would define the problem and solve it.

This is the top 20 in 2014:

Benghazi 2014: Another year with Assassinations (Infographic)

A year is almost gone, and Benghazi is facing months that never confronted before. The conflict between Libyan Army and extremists began almost in May. However, Operation Dignity started as a response to the number of assassinations against military people and policemen.
It becomes clear that some people complain that there’s no a proof that Ansar Al-Sharia is behind these assassinations. Because I know data could provide the proof, I have done a little research and gathering some data to make sure it’s easy to provide the poof.
I visited the most reliable news websites to pull out some data, such as who’s assassinated and where he/she was murdered. I came up with this list that contains more than 230 people who were killed or faced an assassination attempt in 2014 only in Benghazi, not mention other cities.

This is a screenshot of the first page.
You can get the full list from here:

This is a screenshot of the first page.

Data is so important that we can study the behavior of things. In this case, we would understand and know who is behind all this assassinations. This data reveals that more than 70% who faced assassination is either military people or policemen. More than 95% of crimes were done by hit and run using guns. Therefore, targets and the way of committing the crime are similar, so it could be only one criminal.
The most days while assassinations where committed is Fridays, which I believe it’s tight back to the idea of Friday is a holy day in Islam. The most month which assassinations were committed is September with 45 people were killed.

There are 11 activists who were killed only because they stood up against extremists. Twfik Ben Soud, Sami AlKwafi, Salwa Boagisis, and Muftah Bozid are the most remarkable people we lost in 2014.


It’s not possible to solve these crimes. People who in charge can go beyond that. They can investigate other aspects of assassinations. They have a complete resource to dig deep, such as tracing victims history and how it affect the crime.

This infographic shows a year in Benghazi with assassination.

Operation Dignity is one solution to extract this cancer. However, looking for another signs and gathering/analyzing data is another approach.

Update: I’ve recived massages and emails from people who have someone was assassinated in 2014 who is not in the list. Again, I would mention that this list is the least number that I could count. In other words, the reality is more than 230.

 

How We Make Libyans Take Action Toward The Change

Ahmed is a Libyan man who is educated and well known for his passionate for the good change. He uses internet and watch TV everyday. Both of them provide educational material on how to change for the good behavior. However, Ahmed still does the things that he used to do every day, such as crossing the red light while driving. He knows it’s wrong, but he keeps crossing it every time. In general, Ahmed is not a bad guy, but he keeps doing the bad habit every time. 

Isn’t odd? Many Libyans are the same. How we change Ahmed? How we make him follow the rules everyday?

The Golden Circle

Watching the great TEDx talk by Simon Sienk on “How great leaders inspire actions,” he inspired me on how we could embody the good behavior for ever. Even though he’s talking about the leaders of the business world, but we could apply his idea to our conscious. Let me explain his point first:
His theory is called The Golden Circle. It’s basically the three common questions, What, How, and Why. His idea is that most of companies think of their products as WHAT it is ; HOW we created; and WHY we created. So, Imagine the processes as a circle from outside to inside.

Simon idea is to reverse the order of communication. We should start with why first, how, and then what. The why starts with our believe of something that we change for it.
I believe of changing my people. I believe of the idea of waking up and realizing your reality. I launched this blog because I believe in something, not just creating a blog. Creating this blog is not the reason, it’s just the WHAT. The Why is all the purpose. I believe of conveying my thoughts to other people through this Blog.
If Ahmed finds his WHY, before getting to What, he could fulfilled his life with good behavior. If everyone finds his WHY, we can change Libya to a better place. 
The old way to motivate people by rewarding them on good behavior, and punch them on bad behavior is not working anymore. Libya today faces this issue. There’s no powerful government to reward and punch people. Therefore, people like Ahmed will do things just to satisfy their desires. For example, crossing the red light and the reward is getting faster. 
On Contrary, Powerful leaders, parents, teachers, or governments, don’t use the old reward/punishment strategy. They inspire others. They install the good behavior in people . So, people do the good things, not because waiting for reward or because what other want, but because they believe it is good. The key word here is BELIEVE.
If we take the Golden Circle and overlay it on the human brain, as shown in this diagram:

The outside part of the brain (the WHAT level) is responsible for rational and analytical thoughts. We can understand complicated things. 

The middle side of the brain (the HOW level) is responsible for emotional activity, trust, loyalty, and feeling. 

The inside part (the WHY level) is responsible for behavior and decision making. 

If we communicate from outside in, people can understand complicated information, such as facts and benefits. 

However, If we communicate from Inside out, people can change easily because we target the behavior part deep inside, then moving to outside to understand this change in real life.

Eventually, to change people, we have to target the inner side first by making them believe in what is rightful for them and their country. We should start with the WHY he/she must change. Then moving to HOW he/she will change. Then to WHAT to be. This processes should start from inside out. By doing this, we make the change that last for long time.

The Complexity of Libyan Situation

Do you think you can understand what is the main problem in Libya now? Some reports say Western intervention is the reason behind what happened in Libya now. Some say it’s a civil war and the reality of Libyan people! 
Don’t worry of getting lost, it’s really complicated situation in Libya now. It started more than 45 years ago when Gaddafi coup The Kingdom of Libya. 
I’m trying to connect every single issue that caused the current situation. I’m trying to understand what is going on!
Most of my focus was on social human behavior, which is the reason of all the current issues. However, once I connected everything together, I found it deeply complicated. 
This diagram (or  map) visualizes my thinking, and makes it simple to understand what is the big issue. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure it out. And that doesn’t worry me because I believe the change will eventually happen and fix all these complex problems. 

The Secret of “Why We Changed After 17th Feb For Only Short Time?”

Feb 2011

On April 2011, news came as Libyan people, at least in my city Benghazi, have changed. I’ve been told that people’s behavior toward each other and toward their city was incredible. 

So, what made them change? What exactly happened? To answer  this, Imagine a football team. Their coach is generous kind person. The team members love him because he cares a lot for their sport and personal life. However, for their scores and performance, they are so behind from called champions. Their level is not as the perfect as other teams. One day,  stroke hit the coach, and he was transferred to the ICU. It was extremely negative news for the team. As a response, the team decided to get the champion cups for their coach. They doubled their time in training. They improved their playing strategies. It started to pay off. They reached to the final match and they did it. They became the champions. Eventually, they changed to better team.

This story was presented in The Power of Habit book by Charles Duhigg. In extremely negative events, such as death, sickness, and wars, people tend to change easily.

Back to Benghazi 2011. The city has witnessed an intensive violence in streets. This was the first incidents for 40 years. Therefore, people changed easily for the hope of getting a better future. People became aware that they can reach something after all this bloodshed in streets. That’s why we watched the change happened rapidly. 

Today

Today, all this change has vanished. It’s important to understand the feeling of depression coming after the feeling of hope. Libya is on the edge of a civil war, and problems never end, or It could end by splitting Libya to two parts. It’s easy to justify why people lost their rapid change in this chaos. However, we should understand exactly what happened so we could avoid it again.

According to Erika Anderson, there are two types of changes. One is quick and sometimes necessary. It’s called the disruptive change. It cause some destruction, sometimes negative and other positive. The other type is the evolutionary change. It’s gentle and takes long time to happened. What happened in 2011 was the disruptive change. It was easy and quick, but has collapsed easily. It was fast and necessary to happen. But it lasted for only months. 
Evolutionary change attacks the culture. It attacks the root of our environment. Therefore, it lasts for long time. If we aim to change our people, we should adopt the evolutionary change.
 
In Brain Rules book, John Medina illustrates the human brain as two moving parts. They are the background and the foreground parts. We have the ability to access to the them anytime we would. The background part is your fetal environment, evolutionary history, and genetic. The foreground part is hormones, prior experiences, and current environment trigger. We have the authority accessing them anytime we would to provide the knowledge on how to behave in certain moment.
 
To change Libyan behavior, we have to attack the background as the root of their culture to gain the evolutionary change that will last forever. But how? By targeting the most widespread negative behavior among Libyans. So, what is that behavior? 

In my own perspective is the social awareness. Libyans, especially the young ones, are missing the idea of social awareness. Social awareness could be traced back to our culture. Lack of social awareness is when we don’t realize the problem. In other words, we do things daily and sometimes realize them as wrong things, but we keep doing it again and again. This bad behavior becomes the social norm that you can do it and you’re not blamed. Social norm is something is acceptable in one place, and in other places is not acceptable. For example, a Libyan does not stand in line, and in other countries, he would stand perfectly.  

By focusing on this issue, we could make thousands of solution to fix it. One of them is by keeping educating people on every possible channel we could reach them. By changing one thing we could reach the chain reaction.

I’ve been exploring the idea of how to change my people. I really would like to hear your point. It is great to collaborate together to change this social behavior based on our current environment. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

“Switch: How to change Things when the change is hard” Book Should Every Libyan read it

By looking for any signs of how to change myself and my people, I have targeted some bestseller books that talk about changing and how to influence other people. I’ve done reading the first book. “Switch: How to change Things When The Change Is Hard” By Chip and Dan Heath. It’s an amazing book that I couldn’t stop reading it. I decided to give a summery, blink, or (الزبدة) of this great book here.

First of all, I’m going to illustrate some definitions that are used heavily in the book:

The Rider is the rational side of human brains. The rider goes for knowledge. He’s the thinker and planner. Most important he’s the decision maker.
The Elephant is the emotional side of human brains. It’s motivated and fueled by hope. It could be automated accordingly.
The path is the way to the change. It’s the situation or the environment that affects the change.
Heath uses the rider, elephant, and the path to illustrate the processes toward the change. Moving the elephant by the rider on the path from A to B is what the book is talking about.

Heath suggests that in order to make any change, we have to target one or more of the three parts. People or organizations could be directed to the full change by using one of combination of the technique in this book. Let’s make the change by:

Direct the Rider

This is where we should touch on Libyan people’s rational side. Unfortunately, lots of Libyans don’t use this side. I know it’s not actually true. But the truth is we are live more on our emotional side. Because “what looks like resistance is often lack of clarity” Heath says. For example, lots of regular Libyans, especially the old one, can’t understand the idea of using Visa Cards to purchase  stuff. Because they don’t have any idea on how it works, they refuse the change. They will keep using cash. Therefore, we could make it clear for them that their rational side (The rider) will have an image before making the change .Let’s target their rational side (the rider) by:

1-Find the bright spots :

Give them some case studies. Show them what’s working and not working. We have to dig deep of any bright spots in Libya or outside Libya that succeed. If something is working, we should copy it. Understanding what makes it work, analysis it, then replicate it. For example, Turkey has dramatically succeed creating modern developed country. Libyans should study and analysis their improvements, and then trying to replicate it . We should concentrate on the strength not on problems. Problem solving mood is waste of time. Instead, we should focus on successful things and ask how we replicate it.

2-script the critical moves:

Sometimes if we want to change, we have to remove the ambiguity. Uncertainty exhausts our brain. Then, we stop thinking about the change. Therefore, the path to the full change should be clear. As the rider controls the elephant, he should create some critical moves toward the change. You can write down the most important moves.  If we ask the child to go to school for the first time without hesitation, he will refuse. Because of the ambiguity in his first day. Thus, to make it easier for the child, go with him to the first day inside the class. Planing a head is important. But going too detailed with every move is not helping the change. Planing only just the critical moves is the best why to the rider. “If you want someone to change with new way, explain the new way clearly” Heath. We should change our goals to behaviors.

3-Point to the Destination:

Everyone is able to imagine the goal that one wants to reach. When you start your diet, you probably imagine how you are going to look like. Big goals motivate you (Both sides, rational and emotional sides). It’s like showing the best future of you. Imagine that Libya is a modern developed country. Then go back and ask what we could do to reach their. So, to motivate people, just point to the best destination. Heath refers to this as “Pastcard fro the future”. For example, once the revolution has erupted, every single Libyan has imagined how Libya will look like after the victory. This was a great motivation factor toward the change, and important fact removes ambiguity.

Motivate the elephant

This is the part where it gets excited. The emotional side (The elephant) is the most heavily side used by Libyans. The emotional side is easy to be guided. To make the switch easy and fast, we have to motivate the elephant. It’s easy to control the young Libyans by touching on their emotions. It’s used everyday in the current conflict (How they make impact on their opinion by the media). Therefore, this energy should be used in the correct place. Let’s use their elephant to motivate them for the good change. Let’s target their emotional side by:

1-Find the feeling

Most of the theories say that to change something we should perform analysis, thinking, and then changing steps in this order. However, to motivate the elephant, we need to perform it like this way: see, feel, and then change. That’s why we need to find the feeling. We should motivate the people to become interested in the change. For example, because of their feeling toward their country, Libyans in 2011 were full of motivation to change. Once they lose the feeling, Libya has fallen apart. A father could talk to his son everyday to pay more attention to his studies. But his son can’t get the importance of his study. Therefore, the father, in one of their trips, pointed to some homeless people who sleep in streets and said: son, if you don’t study, you become like these people. This is where we find the feeling. We need to find something that Libyans care about.

2-Shrink the change

It’s another term of “small wins“. The journey of 1000 mile starts with the first mile. People tend to do the short stuff first. So, to make the change easier, we have to split it into small parts. It’s easy to make impact on people feeling by convincing that the change is easy and quick. Once we finish the first easy thing, we will have the motivation to do the other things. For example, in Libya, we can focus on security issues first. Trying not over loaded ourselves with too much changes. Finishing the security issues, we can move to next things, such as education. By focusing on issues part by part we can improve Libya. Once we succeed in something, we will have the motivation to do the next step.

3-Grow your people

This is where we should touch on our identity. Grow your people means make them believe in their ability toward the change. We have to embrace the new Libyan identity as capable of the change. How to make this identity grow, by accepting the current situation as failure. Then, accepting the failure as inevitable but also useful. The failure teaches us how to improve. Not doing it again. The author of the book describes it as muscles that are not fixed but can be trained to become more powerful. That’s way we should implant it in our people. Once people become confident, it becomes easier to change them.

Shape the path

To make it easier for them to change, we have to make the path easy and clear. The path is embedded in our environment. When you drive your car on a road for the first time, you usually pay too much attention to the signs on the side road. So, our path toward the change should be marked down with good signs. Most importantly, make this path a cycle never end. Make it sustainable for the future change. Let’s target the path now by:

1-Tweak the environment

The author says what looks like people’s problem is often situation’s problem. That’s truth. Most Libyans when they travel, they follow the rules perfectly. For example, someone  throws trashes in his Libyan city. While outside Libya, the same person never does that. Why? because of our situation now. There are many factors don’t support the change, such as the absence of orders and laws. I’ve written a complete topic describes the effect of our environment toward the change. 

2-Build habits

The good habit helps the change. The elephant is the responsible of the habit part in our brains. Once we construct the perfect habit, we will get a free ride. The autopilot of our brain will start functioning without any rider’s intervention, which means relief and no stress. To build the good habit, we need to build the habit loop. If we setup it correctly, we will build habit that will make the change. I’ve written a topic talks about Libyan Habit and How to Change it. 

3-Rally the herd

When people lack of clarity, they tend to observe the other people and try to do what they are doing. It’s the social norms. It’s easy to follow other people if you don’t understand something. Such as in airports, when you don’t know where to go in terminal, you follow other people hoping they know the way out. Therefore, spreading the right behavior among the people makes it easier to change. Behavior is contagious.

I made  this video for more illustration:

Summary

When you want to change yourself to others, three important key components affect your success: The rider represents the rational side. The elephant represents the emotional side. The path represents the situation and environment.   The three factors make the change tangible.

 

Libyan Education System: 7 Steps Toward The Full Change

Libyan children in the class

Sunday, Sep 1st, my first lovely baby was born. She’s a girl. It was breathtaking and little odd when I had to carried my daughter in my hands for the first time. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.
After few days, my thoughts have shifted from the current political conflict in Libya to my daughter’s future. I have given her the ultimate attention in the last two weeks. I started asking myself too many questions: What will guarantee her future in Libya? How am I going to rise her in this Polluted environment? What’s the perfect place to get her education? The last question grapes all my attention, and I decide to some research on the perfect education systems. The importance of the education system in a country and how it helps building the prefect generation are critical topics. Every nation depends on its children in the future, and their children depends on the education system.
Libya has one of the worst education environment in the world. Schools in Benghazi now are closed temporarily because of the unrest. I have studied in the Libyan education system, and I can recall all the bad/good things. The Libyan education system is one of the factors which causes the demise of cultural awareness among Libyans. I’m not going to dig deep in the issues of the system. Instead, I’m going to explore the paths to change it.

I started my regular research, looking for examples and facts, doing my Google search, and skimming some books and articles. I came up with this list of things Libya should do to rebuild the education system.

1- Get some help

Get HelpI think Libya alone can’t build a perfect education system. It’s OK to get some help from countries, which have gone through some developments of their education system. It’s not replication. ::It’s observation and applying accordingly::. The [PISA] test is a test to measure the education ability in some countries every 3 years. We can start looking on some countries who have improve their rank in the last test. For example, Finland has made incredible movement when it move up in the rank in the last test. Therefore, we can look deeply to their system now, how was before, and what they did exactly to improve it. We can ask them for help. Some consulters can visit Libya and evaluate the current situation and give us some key points to make the change.
The PISA test is important among the developed countries to compare their level in the world rank. Here’s a video shows the PISA test

2- Parents role toward their children education

parents_teachI have grown by my parents who are enrolled in the education system. They were teachers. So,I got the full help at home. In Libya, there are three groups of parents in terms of helping their children to achieve their perfect education. The first group **is the coach, like my parents. This group is acting as a teacher outside the school. They give their children the maximum attention. Helping them by sitting and teaching them. Helping them to do their homework.Giving them quizzes at home. **The second group is the cheerleaders. Parents in this group is acting as motivators to encourage their children to do the their best. Parents do not pay the full attention. They just keep motivate their children without getting deep in their subjects. This group is common in Libya. They in the middle between the first group and the third group. The third group is the neglecters. Parents do not pay any attention to their children education level. They are busy in other things, not their children education. I have witnessed many people in Libya from this group who do not know his child in which grade level. One of the reason that created this type of group is the large number of Libyan family members. The average number of family members in Libya is six, which means lots families have more than 6. Some families have 10 children. My family is one of them. Due to many children, parents lose their desire to grow their children as perfect as they wish. So, children lose the full care. That’s why we have 80s and 90s generations without, for example, reading ability. Parents are important to change our attitude to the education and to build the best future.

3- School environment

school_environment_8As an architect, creating the perfect environment is something important to me. To help any things to be functioning correctly, we have to create the suitable environment. Libyan school buildings are from the 70s. They have built with minimal consideration to the new standards, such as technology. Most importantly, schools represent the period of time when schools were like the prison. They are designed to keep students inside, not outside, with metal bars on the windows, closed courtyard, unhealthy food provided, and old desks and chairs. New standards for schools designing should be provided. For example, internet connection should be provided inside classes. Labs are so important to help them get in touch with what they study. Managing children’s hobbies by providing the perfect spaces to practice and enjoy the school. So, basically, creating a place not just to study, but also to make it a place that children love to stay in.

4- Teacher Education Program

teacherFirst of all, when it comes to comparing the teaching major with engineering or any other majors in Libya, people prefer to enroll to other majors, not the teaching. In addition, education program is known as one of the easiest majors. Leaving this major for unqualified people who are involving with growing the future generations. Second, the teaching major at Libyan universities is not the perfect program that will produce the perfect teachers. Therefore, as we pay most our attention to improve schools environment, we have to improve the human resource as well.
To solve this problem, first, enrolling in teaching program should be based on admission standards. No one could get into this program unless be qualified. Second, developing a program for 4 to 5 years, and one year practical training in public schools. This program will guarantee the best outcomes of teachers. Third, the most important issue in Libya, is raising the salary of teachers. Many teachers in Libya have a second job (Part time or full time). Thus, they split their focus on two things. Teachers are the most important part to fix our education system.

5- School timing

TimingIn every developed country, schools start from 8 am to at least 4 pm. Some countries, such as South Korea, lasts to 8 pm sometimes. In Libya, the regular hours from 8 am to 1 pm. It’s OK for this period of time. However, if we want to improve our education system, we have to expand this time. Children should be busy with their study and hobby. Too much hours at home is not improving any thing (just watching TV). So, if we add more 3 hours and dedicate them to develop children hobbies that would improve their ability in every other things. Making the children busy with things they love is one of the most important factors to improve them in other things.

6- Libyan national education curriculum

images (1)I’m not sure if the national curriculum in Libya is the perfect one. We should, at least, have the same level of the developed countries curriculum. Curriculum should not be too easy nor too hard. It should be updated constantly and cover everything.

7- Standarized Test

TestThe middle schools and high schools have the standardized test, which means all Libyan schools take the same test. That’s a good thing. However, we don’t take advantage of this test to pull out some important facts. For example, with this test we can identify the good schools and bad school from their grades. Then, we can analysis these schools to see where are their strengths and weakness. By doing that, we will have a complete understanding of each school in each city.

To sum up, Libyan education system must change as soon as possible if we want to built the future. Most importantly, inspiration and energize all parties who enveloping in this change is necessary. Switching is not easy and it required all our attention.