Statement of the Commission of International Relations, issued in January 4, 2010, By Chairperson Ibrahim Dagher (Boston)

A peacekeeper’s search for family roots
 Navy rescue diver, Lieutenant Pedro Salgado Dibo came to Lebanon with two clear intentions. As a UN peacekeeper and crew member of UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force (MTF), he was responsible to help train sailors in the Lebanese Navy, while carrying out his regular duties onboard the ship.
Pedro was also in search of something more personal – a long-lost family connection. “I am on a historical mission to find a link in my family tree that has been missing after my great-grandfather moved from Lebanon to Brazil a hundred years ago.” His great-grandfather died when Pedro’s father was only two, and stories of the family’s past died with the patriarch. However, Pedro was optimistic about his chances. He had a phone number and the name of his family’s village, Kafer Habou, near Tripoli. The phone number turned out to be a dead end – it was a wrong number. However, the tide turned when UNIFIL’s radio unit heard about Pedro’s quest and offered to assist him. The team saw how busy he was with his daily tasks and made nearly a hundred calls on his behalf, eventually locating a possible relative – Nadeem Deeb, a retired solder from Kafer Habou. Mr. Deeb’s family history matched what Pedro knew of his father’s family. So with great anticipation, they arranged to meet on board the frigate. When the two men met for the very first time, they closed the gap of time and distance with a warm hug. Mr. Deeb looked at young Pedro and was struck by the apparent family resemblance. “He has features of the Deeb family,” said Mr. Deeb. “I have a son who looks exactly like him. I think it is something in the blood.” A love for the sea is another shared family trait – Mr. Deeb’s son Rabih serves in the Lebanese Navy. Pedro’s father was a rear-admiral in the Brazilian Navy. Through a lengthy discourse, they worked out their family connection . It emerged that Mr. Deeb’s mother and Pedro’s great grandmother were cousins. A few weeks later, Pedro visited Kafer Habou to meet the rest of his family. “I had two doors leading to my family history,” he said. “One is on my mother’s side and it had always been open. The other one is on my father’s side, which has always been closed…” With this trip, he hoped to open that closed door forever. Pedro received a joyous welcome from the Deeb family who were delighted to meet their Brazilian kinsman. The reunion was marked with a meal of traditional Lebanese food and Pedro’s first lessons in Arabic began as he tried to learn what each dish is called. He visited his great-grandfather’s home and marveled at his modest beginnings. “I cannot imagine how my grandfather’s family managed to live in such a small house,” he said. “When I saw the room where they all used to sleep – together with a cow sometimes, in the cold nights, I had a very strange feeling as if a small part of me used to live here.” Despite having very few clues at the start, Pedro’s search for his family was met with unexpected success. “What impressed me the most was the hospitality and emotions that my relatives showed. I felt like we had known each other for a long time and that I was at home,” he said. Pedro has since returned to Brazil thankful to UNIFIL radio unit for their help. He has also promised to return someday. “I feel Lebanon is my home – almost to the same extent as Brazil,” he said. “I will definitely come back to this beautiful country since I have left half of my heart.”
Yuri Kushko and Rania Bdeir –

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