Women of Vancouver: Nora El Najjar tells her story of survival and hope

How passionate are most people about telling their stories? Some become disheartened after a day or week of hard work. Others fall prey to entertainment streaming platforms instead of mustering the effort to read or write something.

Yet some are passionate enough to write their story of hope and achieve their dreams in the midst of loss and war and family. There are those who have had to flee their homeland, an unhappy marriage and leave behind the comfort of their home for the promise of making a better home in a faraway nation for her children and herself.

One such person is Nora El Najjar, a figure of positivity and hope. El Najjar, a mother of three, recently penned and will soon self-publish her memoir, Life of a Promise.

“I now have four children,” she jokes.

In light of COVID-19, El Najjar has words of strength to share.

“I have been through much worse in my life” she says, repeating these words multiple times throughout the interview.

Would one be more afraid of a global pandemic or war that has affected everyday life for all of fifteen years?

Early years

Nora El Najjar. | Photo courtesy of Nora El Najjar

Born in Lebanon, El Najjar and her family moved to the Island of Cyprus and then to Canada for a brief few months. After living in the safety of Canada for nine months, her family decided to relocate back to Lebanon. Then civil war broke out once again in her homeland. The Lebanese Civil War officially lasted 15 years and six months.

Living in Lebanon, El Najjar spent 15 years of her life unlike most children, teenagers or young adults. Many like her had to experience their childhood, teenage and adult lives in the middle of a war-torn country where living in an underground shelter and occasionally running from bullets was a normal part of growing up.

In an atmosphere such as this, she had to change homes and schools countless times. Amidst the utter chaos of war, she pieced together many journals (that were later destroyed) and found solace in the arts by drawing and writing a descriptive tale of war or the life around her.

Back to Canada

After completing her education in English literature and English language, she was married off and went on to have three children. However, unhappy with her married life, she separated from her husband and left to make a better life for herself and her children in Canada.

In Canada she feels safe and secure, surrounded by friends and family. She says that even when she was stuck in war, she remembered the freedom she felt in Canada, from her brief childhood stint. She always hoped to return back to the country where she felt more hopeful and knew where she could work towards achieving her dreams.

“Canada has been like a mother to me,” she says.

However, her life in Canada has not been without its challenges. She had her own little gift shop back in Lebanon, which she managed alongside taking care of her three children. Through this shop, she saved up, and after many years of hard work, she could not be more ecstatic to have her life’s stories written and showcased to everyone. Her upcoming book, Life of a Promise, captures a strong message of hope and resilience even when surrounded by mayhem.