On November 24, 1989, Elias Hraoui was elected President of the Lebanese Republic under extremely difficult security conditions, after the assassination of President Rene Mouawad. In 1995, his presidency was extended for a term of three years.

President Elias Hraoui was a model of courage and endeavor in Lebanon's emergence from war to civil peace. He faced crisis, with patience and tenacity, and worked relentlessly during 9 years to anchor national unity, restore vitality to Lebanese life, rebuild the Republic, launch the process of reconstruction and liberation, and establish sovereignty on all Lebanese territory.



 

First Lady Mrs. Mouna Hraoui

Interview with The First Lady, on May 1995

 
Mouna, the wife of the tenth president of the Republic of Lebanon, Elias Hraoui, is admired for her courage and compassion.

Shortly after taking office on November 24, 1989, following the assassination of President Rene Moawad, President Elias Hraoui proclaimed the birth of the Lebanese Second Republic.

A proclamation the First Lady has taken to heart as she works along side her husband and her people. Her efforts include volunteer work, fund raising to support countless charities that assist the children, elderly and the handicapped. An inspiring public speaker, the First Lady is comfortable delivering speeches in Arabic, French and English.

 As she travels to address world forums: Annual session, Unicef Executive Board, New York 1994. 7th International Conference for the disabled, Vatican 1993. 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995. She makes it her personal mission to regularly meet with Lebanese ex-patriots, encouraging them to return to Lebanon and make a difference.

Tell me about yourself?

 
My father died when I was very young. I wanted to continue my studies at the university but I didn't have the opportunity. I taught English language for two years, and then I married in 1961. Very ambitious, I always like to learn new things. I try never to look back on life. It stops your ambition. I believe you should always look ahead and anticipate achievements.

My husband began his career in politics as a member of parliament back in 1972 and then he became a minister in 1980-1982. In life you must climb the ladder one step at a time to reach the summit.

When you were growing up, did you ever think you would one day be the First Lady of Lebanon?

 
No, even though my husband's family is very involved in politics. I never really thought that my husband would become President. My husband's father was a well-known personality in Zahle and his older brother was a member of parliament. When his brother died, my husband succeeded him. Politics is not easy. You have to accommodate yourself to it. Your life becomes unlike others. You are always surrounded by people. Fortunately, I like people and receiving visitors has become second- nature to me. Don't forget, my husband became president under very tragic and frightening circumstances. President Moawad had only been in office seventeen days when he was killed in a car bomb explosion. I would have given anything for my husband to become president under different circumstances. The situation in Lebanon was horrible. What kept me going was my belief in God. I believe that when you have faith and you do well to your country, whatever happens, you can accept it.

As First Lady, what are your special interests?

 
Since my husband became president, it was very important for me to help those in need. I have formed a committee to coordinate relief efforts. At the beginning, we helped the needy by giving them social assistance and scholarships. Then it became apparent that many needed hospitalization. Seventeen years of war is not easy to survive and stay healthy. Through our work we discovered that many people suffered from heart problems, diabetes and thalassemia (a Mediterranean disease).
                                       
During the fighting, people couldn't afford to come to the city to get an appropriate medical follow-up, so their health deteriorated. At the beginning, we focused our efforts on all those who needed urgent health care. Then, because there were so many, we were forced to concentrate on children up to the age of eighteen.

I am taking full advantage of my position and resources to help the children of Lebanon, especially those suffering from chronic diseases.
Thanks to fund raising dinners, donors and a memorable telethon conducted in Lebanon on May 29, 1993, we have been able to achieve the construction and the equipment of a medical center known as the "Chronic Care Center".
This center inaugurated on June 8, 1994, and was an answer to urgent needs expressed by the medical community and the patients’ families.       

Its vocation is to provide a comprehensive care encompassing medical treatment as well as dietary and psychosocial surveillance to our children, namely the ones affected by Type I Diabetes and Thalassemia. At the same time, the Center engaged to contribute into educational and preventive campaigns to the safeguarding of healthier generations.

Do you think women are as capable as men?

 
Absolutely! When a woman decides to do something, she does it as it should be done. Why? Because we are not only as capable as men but we also put more effort and more devotion into what we do. When a woman makes a commitment to do something, she will do her best to see it through that is not always true with men.

Lebanon is a solid country. Our homes are made of stone. People leave abroad, but they always come back to the same village where their families have lived for generations. We have deep roots. We are attached to our country, to our mountains, to our trees, to our flag, to our way of life. Not many countries could survive after so many years of war and devastation. Life, before the war, was so easy even for the village people. They had their own houses, their own land, and their own crops. They were happy. But with the displacement of the Lebanese people, so many of whom became refugees in their own country, we now have a lot of people who are very poor. Some left the country for good and many of those who stayed need help. To answer your question, we have stopped bleeding, we were in critical condition, but we improved a lot.

Now, our country is on going in the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction on all the sectors. We do expect and hope for a better time, as Lebanese people love life and Lebanese people merit life.
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