Where do I belong?
Rita el-Khoury travels to Lebanon every year.
She calls Australia and Lebanon her home but it wasn't until she was caught in the middle of the 2006 Israeli bombing of Beiruit that she fully appreciated what that meant.
RITA ELKHOURY (VOICEOVER): Where do I belong? Am I Australian or Lebanese? Summer, 2006 in Lebanon was a dream come true for me and my friends. We were the Australians rocking downtown Beirut. The city was full of tourists and foreigners spending 24 hours a day "orlane". Waking up early, spending the day on a resort, then getting ready for dinner and clubbing was our daily routine, not forgetting the stopover every night at 4:00 AM for afterparty breakfast and the afternoon "algili" somewhere different every day.
On a perfect summer afternoon, having dinner on the beach, staring at the clear see, I found myself speaking about how much I love visiting Lebanon every year. Then my cousin said, how could you care about your country while you barely know it? You are only Lebanese by name. You're simply another tourist. All I was able to reply is I might be very difficult to understand that those of us who are outside do try to make a difference.
That night, Israel bombed Beirut Airport. My holiday was over. I had to leave, but I was unsure how. It cost us a $1,000 for cab to drive us to Damascus Airport. I did not stop asking him questions about safety. The roads were deserted. Time stood still. Unable to close my eyes for the whole 9 hour drive. I'll never forget that image on the Lebanese/Syrian borders; tourists waiting for their visas, buses blocking in the road, kids selling drinks, and people just randomly staring at each other.
In that taxi, I turned to my friend and said, we are safe and finally going back home. At that moment, I had referred to Australia being home. I had thought that Lebanon was my home, the place where I spent 11 years growing up. After that, I realized that I have two homes, so my fear of never belonging disappeared on a taxi journey escaping the war.