BEIRUT: Passionate about writing since she was a child, UNHCR Journalist and Regional Video Producer Dalal Mawad decided to use her talent for a cause.
As part of her job with the UN Refugee Agency, Mawad travels most of the time to war zones to give thousands of refugees a platform to express themselves and tell their stories to the world. That’s the main reason why she decided to become a journalist.
“I always wanted to become a journalist because I felt I could use my voice to tell the stories of people who don’t have a voice,” Mawad told Annahar. “I wanted to be the voice of the voiceless.”
Against the will of her parents who did not want her to get involved in the media world, the former TV journalist pursued advanced studies in journalism. All she wanted after her graduation was to cover topics related to social justice, human rights, and environmental issues.
Nothing stopped her from realizing her dream: From a News writer in the newsroom of Al Jazeera English to a field reporter at LBCI, Mawad covered Syria’s civil war as well as Lebanon’s refugee crisis and other social issues.
Unlike other journalists, Mawad was never interested in politics.
“I never wanted to cover local politics and politicians. I thought I would have more impact if I cover the refugees,” she said. “That is why the UN approached me and offered me an opportunity to cover the refugee crisis not only in Lebanon, but also in other parts of the world.”
Although her job has allowed her to achieve some of the impacts she always hoped to achieve, Mawad’s decision to become a war correspondent had its traumatizing consequences. These have not only affected her, but also the way she raises her little Yasma.
“The first time I reported from a conflict zone, I was 6-months pregnant. It was in Iraq when ISIS was occupying Mosul,” she told Annahar. “I could see the airstrikes from a distance, I could hear the bombings.”
Mawad added that the most traumatizing part of the experience was “not what I saw but, what I heard.”
“Hearing the stories of refugees every day is a trauma in itself. It’s something you take back home with you, it’s something that keeps you awake at night,” she added.
Mawad considers that part of her job became harder when she became a mother.
“I see Yasma in every refugee child I meet, and I see myself in their mothers,” she explained. “This pushed me towards nurturing empathy in my daughter at a very early age. I do not want her to be selfish and to grow up in a society that is individualistic.”
As a mother covering the refugee crisis, the moral injury faced by Mawad is more difficult to absorb.
“I would sometimes start crying when listening to certain stories. I try to build a coping mechanism by sharing what I see with people who are close to me,” she said. “I also visit a psychologist because sometimes you need someone to listen to you.”
Mawad’s advice to all the working moms out there is not to forget themselves and to love themselves in order to be able to raise another person.
“‘You’ comes first. You are a person first, a woman second, a wife and a mother third,” Mawad told Annahar. “You need to be ‘okay’ with yourself in order to be a better wife and mother."
“Make sure to give your daughters a role model at home in order for them to see the importance of being independent.”
Welcome to “Naya”, the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment.
We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations-Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: [email protected]
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