S1E10 Patricia Bitar Cherfan, Founder & editor in chief of HOME Magazine

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Patricia Bitar Cherfan and Mark Abouzeid on “Walking out of Lockdown”

“Hardship forges characters. I don’t think if one had an easy life, all his life, he would have so much to share with the world. The struggle builds you, builds men, but even more builds women as it is always harder for women. Lessons come from life itself but also from role models we follow, the kind we always present in HOME Magazine.” Patricia Bitar Cherfan, founder and editor in chief of HOME Magazine, Lebanon’s premier English language publication.

Patricia Bitar Cherfan

Patricia Bitar Cherfan, is the Founder and Editor in chief of HOME Magazine, Lebanon’s premier general-interest English magazine, and chief executive officer of its publisher, PiDRAYA, a visionary social enterprise. Driven by the public good, Patricia is a social entrepreneur known for her divergent thinking. She is engaged in a variety of activities that support peacebuilding, cultural diplomacy, women’s leadership. Patricia is a passionate person, a consensus builder, a doer by nature and an activist at heart.

HOME Magazine Editor in Chief
In HOME, Patricia has created a collectible, coffee table magazine that celebrates Lebanon and the Lebanese people.HOME’s inclusive editorial package expands to celebrate the great diversity of Lebanon and the Lebanese. It covers everything from beauty, fashion and fitness to arts, culture and gastronomy to design, business and entrepreneurship to family, health and heritage, and especially “giving back.” HOME Magazine is as unique as Lebanon itself.

Chief Executive Officer of PiDRAYA
Patricia is also chief executive officer of PiDRAYA, publisher of HOME Magazine. PiDRAYA is a visionary social enterprise that brings international know-how to Lebanese businesses on sustainability, corporate social responsibility and corporate activism. PiDRAYA promotes society’s advancement through arts, cultural platforms and active cross-sector partnerships between public, private, nonprofit, for-profit, civic and government sectors and the Lebanese diaspora.

A passionate volunteer
Before establishing PiDRAYA, Patricia worked full-time exclusively as a volunteer for more than eight years. During that time, she initiated several distinctive projects that have had lasting impact.


Every week, Mark Abouzeid reaches out to freelancers, artisans, creatives, culture protagonists and everyday people on how they survived lockdown and what the ‘new normal’ means to them, personally and professionally. In an intimate conversation between friends, Abouzeid asks them about the future, what changes they will make to adapt and how they intend to rebuild.

Follow us, join the discussion and support the work:

Director: Mark Abouzeid
Producer: Real Lives Channel on youtube

Interviewer: Mark Abouzeid
Editing and Postproduction: Mark Abouzeid

Creative Commons Stock footage:
Woman Washes Hands – Cinesim Media
SFDPH Wash Hands Spanish – SFGovTV
Wash your hands, grab your hand sanitizer, keep Corona and other related infections away – #CapitalFmKenya
200129_01_Medical_4k_005 – Videvo
200314 – Work Life_Hand Sanitiser_04_4k_003 – Videvo
WASH Your Hands Mr Bean! | Bean Movie | Classic Mr Bean – Classic Mr Bean

Music from http://www.Epidemic Sound.com:
“Safehouse (explicit version)” – Iso Indies

Thank you to Zoom for webconferencing and recording.

Copyright Mark Abouzeid, 2020. All rights reserved.


Mark Abouzeid 0:19
Good afternoon and welcome to walking out of lockdown today is a very special edition for me. I have the honor of speaking again with Patricia beatab chair fan, who is the founder and editor of home magazine. For those of you that don’t know it’s Lebanon’s premier English magazine.

Mark Abouzeid 0:41
And that is amazing in itself. But Patricia does so much more than that. She’s a social entrepreneur. She’s engaged in peacebuilding cultural, diplomacy, women’s leadership, but also she is a very involved mother

Mark Abouzeid 1:00
She is very involved in spiritual from the aspect of holism from the aspect of interfaith, I mean, I could go on forever and I will provide a lot of links in the bio because I think it’s very much worth going through a lot of what you’ve been involved with Patricia, and it’s especially nice for me because I rarely get the chance to interview people that I met being interviewed by them. So this is a nice switch because the first time I met you, you were interviewing me.

Unknown Speaker 1:36
Exactly. Thank you. Thank you so much for this beautiful introduction. And I’m really humbled and I hope I’m, I deserve all of this. And it has been a while. I didn’t see you. I saw you last time in Lebanon and we had big dreams to do so many things, and I don’t know, we’ve been having problems in the country and now the whole world. So we’d always hope it’s true. It’s true.

Mark Abouzeid 1:45
I had obviously met you, shortly after finding my Lebanon came out. And it was my intention and still is to be in Lebanon for at least half of half of my year, unfortunately.

Mark Abouzeid 2:28
I guess because I follow culture and I follow the problems that a lot of artisans and people on the ground face, it’s my role in life to go to each of these and to spend time as you may know, we were supposed to be in Peru working with indigenous people before the lockdown. But I am very pleased that Lebanon has you because it’s more important that that you’re there then I’m there, quite frankly. But let’s get started a bit. Now. I always start with asking about

Mark Abouzeid 3:00
At the beginning of the year, because most people’s expectations for the beginning of the year were actually quite good, but Lebanon was in a different position at the beginning of the year. So why don’t you give me a bit of background both for you personally and for the country as a whole what was going on for those listeners that just don’t know though details?

Unknown Speaker 3:19

Unknown Speaker 3:21
So yeah, we were not doing well lately.

Unknown Speaker 3:26
It has been dragging for a long time. But the last few years, it was really bad. Many company closed down in

Unknown Speaker 3:36
2018 and 2019. We had around 5500 company closing down. And yeah, with a very small economy, if you can imagine this is very, very taxing.

Unknown Speaker 3:49
We don’t even have official numbers in 2020 because now, I mean, I cannot describe the situation. And they were revolution here in Lebanon.

Unknown Speaker 4:00
started in October 17. We had

Unknown Speaker 4:05
a lot of corruption and

Unknown Speaker 4:09
you know people cannot be silenced, I believe so at some point, things like this they burst, you know? Yeah. So now we even have now the banking sector we have the capital control, that’s locking

Unknown Speaker 4:30
almost all the money of the Lebanese and they were attracting many, a lot of money from Lebanese abroad and illimani diaspora in general. So

Unknown Speaker 4:41
level non empty venues were in a bad situation to start with this year and

Unknown Speaker 4:49
the COVID-19

Unknown Speaker 4:51
like made the last,

Unknown Speaker 4:54
you know, hate.

Mark Abouzeid 5:00
Okay, so then we jump ahead to march COVID is spreading everywhere. When did lockdown begin? And what was the general reaction? What were the Lebanese? I mean, obviously they were already in a bad situation. What was the general reaction?

Unknown Speaker 5:15
And luckily, we handled when all the lockdown. We were the one of the first countries that really close down

Unknown Speaker 5:26
the schools they stopped also in March.

Unknown Speaker 5:31
We had official lockdown the airport Close, close down, etc. So, my daughter is studying the states. And she came back.

Unknown Speaker 5:43
My kids

Unknown Speaker 5:45
when I asked her to come back home, she was shocked like why why are they asking you to come back home, the University was still on and running and they were still out and they didn’t even

Unknown Speaker 6:00
understand the severity of what’s happening so

Unknown Speaker 6:04
much Luckily, she came, she came back.

Unknown Speaker 6:08
And after a few days that the airport was it was tough. And also in the states and

Unknown Speaker 6:16
after then it was very complicated to to bring all the students back home, you know, with all the risks, also that

Unknown Speaker 6:27
contamination etc. So I’m very blessed in this perspective. Yes, I understand what you mean entirely. My daughter was in Venice, working at the Guggenheim, when COVID hit Italy. And they don’t, they don’t understand. And this is something I want to get into that for a lot of the young people. They have heard from us, they’ve heard from others that every once in a while the world just flips. It’s not something it just entirely flips.

Unknown Speaker 7:00
is different than anything you’ve ever expected. And my daughter didn’t want to leave until I literally had to order her out of Venice and sure enough, the day she got out they closed the airports at nine o’clock that night.

Unknown Speaker 7:15
How has it been for your family for

Unknown Speaker 7:21
lockdown and also just the disruption in what you’re doing but also the time together, you know, good and bad.

Unknown Speaker 7:29
Yeah. And we were in our in the village house in Vishwas in Cora

Unknown Speaker 7:39
and this was very nice because we were close to nature. We had the garden we had, you know, the fresh air

Unknown Speaker 7:48

Unknown Speaker 7:50
it was strange, but I enjoyed it.

Unknown Speaker 7:54
I understand. I understand. Believe me Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 8:00
I believe that COVID-19 and all what happened

Unknown Speaker 8:06
was actually a blessing.

Unknown Speaker 8:10
And I know I mean, many people unfortunately lost their lives and life people lost your your family members or friends, etc. But we were going somewhere as humanity

Unknown Speaker 8:27
very strange, you know, we were running. I don’t know why and where to do what? And

Unknown Speaker 8:37
and I think the stop is made us all go

Unknown Speaker 8:43
be in the being rather than in the doing. Mm hmm

Unknown Speaker 8:49
It was beautiful. I mean we had very nice family time.

Unknown Speaker 8:54
You know, I have two daughters, and I enjoyed them so much and my husband

Unknown Speaker 9:00
And they did great, working online and studying online etc. And we had so much time to spend together. Usually, you know, my daughter is 19 now, and, you know, they go out, they prefer to be with their friends, etc. So we were together, but they didn’t have other options, you know. So it was a night as a parent.

Unknown Speaker 9:30
I’m sorry, I’m saying this with Oh, I agree. I completely agree. I’m sorry. I personally, now that we’re opening up, I’m, I’m sorry to say I’m missing a bit of lockdown.

Unknown Speaker 9:46
Yeah, and I think I will, I will claim a lockdown day on my life. I mean, it’s so much good to me and to my family. I don’t know if they would like to do this.

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Well, but as far as I’m concerned, I would prefer to live like this having one or two days per week, just you know, doing my own stuff, you know. And it was it was beautiful. I continued working remotely. And actually, we did great doing this because we continue.

Unknown Speaker 10:24
And we were even productive. And we got down the time that’s usually spent on the road roads with the traffic and, you know, it was productive. And I spent also also three, three months studying, and I enjoyed this so much. How are you studying? I’m curious, or in general.

Unknown Speaker 10:47
I did digital strategy. So yeah. So for all this transfer me mission period, you know, I mean, everything is going on.

Unknown Speaker 11:00
Digital and digital is disrupting everywhere in the world, every business every life. So I felt it’s really timely to do this and I studied and you know, when I enrolled I thought it’s going to be something like you know, I would dedicate a few hours a week for it. But finally No, it took me much more than this. I had to do tests they have to do serious work and reading and studying and whatever but I cannot describe how much I enjoyed it. It was it was really beautiful. You’re a person that strikes me from having spoken with you and looking at what you do and even your magazine. You know, as you know,

Unknown Speaker 11:47
I think your magazines genius. I’ve told you so many times high glossy magazine targeted at the overseas Lebanese but also the world

Unknown Speaker 12:00
A Lebanese that have, as we all know, they like luxury, they like gloss. They like all this.

Unknown Speaker 12:06
And then you start reading the magazine and it’s like, wait, this is actually opening people’s minds, this is actually talking about the issues that are very important in a place that otherwise they would never hear, they would never see it, they wouldn’t understand it. And so, you know, it appears to me and this is a question that learning and continuing to grow is very important to you throughout your life. Do you? Is that a chore that you go through once in a while when you realize you need it? Or is that actually an aspect of the way you choose to live life?

Unknown Speaker 12:43
at a very curious person by nature,

Unknown Speaker 12:48
culturally curious, no, I have a certain curiosity that I’m always searching to know more about so many things. And as you know as much as you learn you, you

Unknown Speaker 13:00
Then you realize that you know so much so little. So it’s

Unknown Speaker 13:04

Unknown Speaker 13:06
and so there are so many things that fascinate me, in life so many. And having a home magazine as a platform. It gives me this, this opportunity to be diverse because I love diversity, I love to.

Unknown Speaker 13:26
To celebrate diversity. We are a very diverse country. And we have something I think, very unique, which is our resilience. If we could bottle our resilience and spread it to the world, and we monetize this, for example, we would be one of the richest nations I think, because we’ve been through a lot and we still there, and we still have so much talent in every single field.

Unknown Speaker 14:00
And being also an editor in chief. It allows me to enter people’s minds so quickly, you know, because when you’re interviewing somebody

Unknown Speaker 14:12
usually to know a person in regular life, it takes so many meetings and social meetings and then connecting etc. And it’s a long road but when you are with somebody interviewing him or her,

Unknown Speaker 14:30
they really invite you to their itself. They really invite you to there. And I make it a point to ask the really the questions. The three key questions like how they got where they are now, I want to hear the pain of people. I don’t want to just see the

Unknown Speaker 14:56
the flashy side of success, you know,

Unknown Speaker 15:00
I want to see the struggle I want to give in in the editorial line,

Unknown Speaker 15:07
like role models and tell the youth that it’s difficult. I mean, don’t think it’s easy. I mean, not nothing easy is really worth it.

Unknown Speaker 15:19
So, so giving them examples of people from around the world that made very big, especially in terms of impact. I love the impact of people when they really make it big because

Unknown Speaker 15:37
you know, you have so many criterias of success, but when you make it big and you give back then you are a very mature I believe human being in terms of wisdom in terms of what you want to achieve in life, because the more we are aware that we’re here for a short while, I think the more

Unknown Speaker 16:00
Wisdom one would have. Yeah, it’s nice to enjoy life. But also what to leave behind is very, very important.

Unknown Speaker 16:09
What do you say to the younger generations in Lebanon right now one of the things we’re noticing worldwide is that millennials and the generation afterwards actually maybe because of social networking, maybe because of the internet, nobody’s quite sure the sociological or psychological reason, they actually have very little curiosity, they find an answer. And that’s it. It’s almost like if you find it on Wikipedia, you know everything. How can you? How can you continue this idea of curiosity and the fact that anything worth doing takes effort, and otherwise, it’s just not worth doing? It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be with Well, how does or how are you looking at getting

Unknown Speaker 17:00
Holmes message also to those younger generations. It’s true, it’s hard, it’s harder for them, because they are having this all this information so easily so they don’t even need to do the effort. But I think life

Unknown Speaker 17:21
has many lessons also always hidden for people. So, so if if we don’t teach them this, a disease would

Unknown Speaker 17:36
any deception, love deception, career deception, whatever. I think all of these things are set very essential to really forge a really good character.

Unknown Speaker 17:52
I don’t think if one had an easy life, all his life would have

Unknown Speaker 18:00
So much to share with the world. You know, it’s nice the struggle, the struggle builds you belts man, but even more with women because it’s always harder also for women. So I think it’s a it’s a big lesson that we can have from real life but also from, as I said, the role models we always always present in home magazine and

Unknown Speaker 18:31
and when you go in depth with the people, the millennials, or others, I believe in in the goodness of humanity.

Unknown Speaker 18:41
If you really scratch people in the right direction, I think you always find nice stuff.

Unknown Speaker 18:50
Um, two questions. First one following on that. There was a comment by a philosopher that says comfort, isolate

Unknown Speaker 19:00
It says from our humanity, it’s only strife. That puts us in touch with that, based on what you said, How do you respond to that? I was listening to a podcast now during this lockdown, and it brought something very interesting to, to me that it was an eye opener I had never really

Unknown Speaker 19:22
thought about it this way.

Unknown Speaker 19:25
I’m a person who, who who likes to achieve, to protect set a goal and

Unknown Speaker 19:33
go really work hard for it. And I like challenges. This is okay. I mean, this is how I am. And

Unknown Speaker 19:45
my question in this podcast was

Unknown Speaker 19:50
what would be your trait of character if you are not talking about your achievements, so

Unknown Speaker 20:00
As a character, who are you without your edge?

Unknown Speaker 20:04
If and I thought, like, wow, this is such a new thing for me, you know? Is it your character without what you do? Your character, just who you are, you know? And then it’s it’s a completely new

Unknown Speaker 20:22
perspective of, you know, it’s, it’s how genuine you are, how generous you are, how content with yourself, how I mean, there are so many other questions that are far from where you are in terms of what you do, you know. And

Unknown Speaker 20:43
yeah, and I had so much time to reflect

Unknown Speaker 20:47
action, you know, on words like this. And the last question I want to ask you is,

Unknown Speaker 20:53
what are your fears coming out of this? Is there anything that that you fear going forward either every

Unknown Speaker 21:00
result of COVID or just some of the things we’ve talked about talked about with the problems of humanity and civilization or globalization before.

Unknown Speaker 21:10
I don’t feel fearful. It’s not a feeling I, I did a lot with you know, I’m a very positive person. I’m always very hopeful. And maybe my fear would be that we, we don’t learn from this experience because it would be really a pity. And

Unknown Speaker 21:35
my fear is

Unknown Speaker 21:39
technology I wanted to be stopped, not stopped, but like used for good reasons.

Unknown Speaker 21:47
Because you always have conspiracy theories and you never know what’s right and what’s wrong in this.

Unknown Speaker 21:56
I believe that we have a big

Unknown Speaker 22:00
To play the people that would like to

Unknown Speaker 22:04
be impactful in their life, I think it’s not an option.

Unknown Speaker 22:10
It’s not an option for people, not to, not to go there not to go the extra mile.

Unknown Speaker 22:19
And I feel also there is a very big role for women.

Unknown Speaker 22:24

Unknown Speaker 22:26
we’re half of the planet and in this part of the world as well. And we have many resources for one, we have many resources for women, and it will be a pity not to not to use these resources, economically, socially, even in households. I mean, you know, when you have a partner the life is is nicer is when you have somebody to talk to you have somebody to brainstorm with, you know,

Unknown Speaker 23:00
I think the woman somewhere where

Unknown Speaker 23:05
she’s like secondary or whatever, I don’t think it’s, it’s, it’s a smart move on a national level. You know, it’s, it’s something that

Unknown Speaker 23:19
we don’t want to use or we don’t want to lose all these resources we have so much to give. And we have a duty to give. And

Unknown Speaker 23:30
it’s a choice of course, I mean, a woman can I don’t, I’m not judgmental in people, they can live the way they choose to live, you know, but

Unknown Speaker 23:43
it would be a pity, you know, it would be a pity not to be there not to participate in the economy, in politics, and

Unknown Speaker 23:54
in everything good for society for for the world, you know, and we are nurturing

Unknown Speaker 24:00
By nature, so by nature is it’s our it’s our nature to take care of other people of our homes of our kids of our husbands etc. For us it comes natural. So I hope this resource will be

Unknown Speaker 24:18
will be used and we always have a gender lens with home magazine. So we give the floor for as many women as as men, and you will be surprised they’re doing they’re doing great, great things, changing the world and

Unknown Speaker 24:40
and they have a they have a big role in Lebanon and globally and I think they proved it. Many countries now they have their prime minister’s or presidents or whatever and they’re doing even better.

Unknown Speaker 24:55
Patricia You are amazing as always and you are without

Unknown Speaker 25:00
out something I’m sorry to get emotional but I have not had much contact with Lebanon in the last 18 months because of other work I’ve been doing. And just talking to and reminding me of everything I love about it. You’ve made me feel much better today after a morning that was quite difficult. So I got to thank you very much for this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and thank you for this opportunity and hope to see you in Lebanon soon. As soon as I can believe me, believe me, it’s something that is in my heart is in my mind. We’ll see what comes next. I know you’re busy. So I’m not going to detain you anymore but thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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