IN April last year, Maha Damouni returned to Lebanon with her husband and two children more than four decades after she fled from the country as a 12-year-old.
Her husband Edmund and children Jason (27) and Jessica (23) had never seen her home town of Damour that was destroyed by civil war, which ended in the early 1990s.
“Damour went through a massacre, we were attacked and fled for our lives,” Maha said.
“We left and never went back to rebuild like others have.
“Our house still stands as a shell with the war scars still there.
“I told my kids how I used to play and where.”
Maha returned to her birthplace after running the London Marathon that marked her completion of the six world marathon majors (New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin and London).
It was a sport she took up after her mum died and it had her return to Lebanon just seven months after visiting with her family, this time with Perth friends who competed alongside her in the 15th Beirut International Marathon.
Maha ran with her New York-based daughter, winning the 50-55 age group.
“To run in a marathon there… I never thought I would go back,” she said.
“It was my 15th marathon. It was a little bit harder than others… it wasn’t as flat as London and it got hot on the day.”
Maha will share her story of fleeing from Lebanon with her birth certificate pinned to her clothes and finally getting a visa to Australia in Cyprus nine months later, at a Business Women Australia event this month.
WHAT: Women of Inspiration Dinner
WHEN: Thursday, May 24 from 6.30pm
WHERE: Royal Perth Yacht Club