Meet Faten Lubani

February 8, 2023 • Anita Krohn Traaseth

What’s your first memory from childhood?

Without any doubt, it was of my Dad picking me up from the kindergarten every day. He would carry me on his shoulders, with my legs dangling around his neck. We used to stop by the bakery, and he would let me choose anything I wanted. One day my Mom came to pick me up instead. I asked where Dad was, and she told me that he had been obliged to travel. That broke my little heart for months. How could he not say goodbye to me? I later came to understand that he had no choice, but to flee during that night. The war in Lebanon had left us with nothing, so Dad was willing to sacrifice his life to give us a better future.


Describe a person or a situation that encouraged you to claim your space?

I was born in a refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. I grew up listening to the horrific stories about the injustice Palestinians endure. We lost family members, including my older sister who was killed when she was only 16 years old. For too long, I kept those painful stories inside me because I did not feel safe sharing them. I feared repercussion if I expressed my opinion. This changed when I met Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician, humanitarian, activist who has saved many Palestinian lives in Gaza, Palestine. At one point the Israeli Government banned him from entering the Gaza Strip. That did not stop him, however, from creating awareness and standing up against injustice. On the contrary, it seemed to have made him more determined to expose the humanitarian crises he witnessed daily.

Dr. Mads encouraged me to share my story. Today I lend my voice and I stand up for Palestinian’s human rights and support their legal struggle to achieve freedom and live at peace. I share my story with pride instead of fear, and I encourage everyone to stand against injustice, no matter where it occurs.


Is it something you have worried about, that was not really worth it?

I used to worry about how my boss considered me as a worker. I would couch my words to avoid upsetting him. This relationship affected me to a degree where I started second-guessing my skills. The amount of energy I spent getting his appreciation, caused more harm than good. I finally came to understand that he could only have the amount of influence on my career that I was willing to give him. I quit the job. Today I know enough about myself and life, that I would not give anyone the power to define my career-path and ambitions. I let my work speak for itself. Knowing what I can achieve in life, I will no longer let others determine my worth.              


How do you create and sustain relationships?

Every relationship is different, but each one matters. I build my relationships on the foundation of curiosity, inclusion, and respect. I do not form relationships just to get people to work for me, or to admire me. I create relationships because I genuinely like someone and believe that we are stronger as a team.

I sustain relationships by showing my appreciation, whether it is a colleague who greets me with a big smile in the morning, brings me a cup of coffee or collaborates with me on a difficult project. I believe that everyone values appreciation and wants to feel that they are contributing in a positive way.


How do you make everyday choices?

I set a daily goal. The first ritual I do in the morning is my daily prayer. It makes me reflect on matters, and people who I do not take for granted in life.

My everyday choices are mainly purpose-driven. I want to contribute to create an impact in my municipality: an impact that is larger than me. This vision motivates me, and helps me stay focused, but determined.


How do you let go of feelings, emotions and thoughts that are destructive?

I can still be hard on myself, and this is a hard pattern to break. I grew up in a conservative family  the youngest of eight siblings. I was expected to behave in a certain way and to make traditional choices in life related to my culture. But I wanted to define myself instead of letting others do it for me. Believe me, it takes courage to dare question an established cultural system. I made a choice to stand my ground, claim my space and own my truth. So, I choose to let go of destructive feelings, and instead channel my energy into doing something positive.

What do you do, see, read, feel to get inspired?

Traveling, for me, is like meditation. Exposure to new cultures makes me a better person in so many ways. I also love gardening because I get to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Before I had my twins, I used to spend each summer vacation doing voluntary work in the refugee camp where I was born. That is the most inspiring and meaningful act I ever carried out.


What’s the one piece of advice you would give to those working to claim their space?

Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you to be the best version of yourself.