Open letter from Libya

Libya, March 6, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Steve Haley/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps' team in Libya drives across the desert during their ongoing humanitarian assessment. Photo: Steve Haley/Mercy Corps

Editor's Note: "Tomorrow's Leaders" is a four-year scholarship program that provides young people from around the Middle East and North Africa an opportunity to study in a top Arab university while developing their leadership skills through community service and exchanges. Mercy Corps, with the help of the Qatar Foundation, is providing skills training and leadership experience opportunities to supplement their development. Fadl Moukadem, a Mercy Corps Project Officer from Tripoli, Lebanon, is traveling with Country Director Steve Haley, author of this blog entry.

Hey Tomorrow's Leaders!

I hope all is well in Beirut and Byblos, as well as for your families in your home countries...

I rarely get to spend much time with individual programs, but I had planned to spend a lot with all of you. Your energy and your purpose is the stuff dreams are made of for people like me — who grew up far from history, and far from the events of the world.

The title of your program may have sounded a little cliche to you (it did to me anyway!), but very few people can argue what it means now. Your world is changing so rapidly that us old folks just can't keep up...and the most amazing thing is that the changes in your world WILL affect the rest of the world.

I'm writing you from the back of a minibus zooming across Libya at the moment, trying to understand the changes that are so rapidly affecting this country...and hoping, as I do for your countries, that the changes bring greater equity and prosperity as peacefully as possible. However, I think you all know that this looks less and less likely every day, so Mercy Corps has sent me here to assess any emergency needs created by the situation here, and understand better if there is anything we can do to help reduce their suffering and get them back on the path to a productive life.

This letter is actually an apology to you all, because developing leaders of character requires mentors who are leaders of character, and I have stolen one from you: Fadl Moukadem is sitting in front of me, leading my trip across the desert. When I think of the sessions we had brainstorming about the characteristics of a leader, I have a hard time thinking of any he has not demonstrated in the past 24 hours alone. But a leader's development and growth comes from the actions she or he takes, and I'm confident I will bring him back to you even more capable as a mentor in your leadership development experience.

So for now, let's just say I'm borrowing him :)

So I leave you in the extremely capable hands of the rest of the Mercy Corps Lebanon team. Normally I'd say "I'll see you when I get back to Lebanon" but in our world I'll see you long before that on Twitter, Facebook and the Global Citizen Corps website!

See you soon!