Biography Ouidad Hachem
April 3, 1961 until April 4, 2014
Ouidad Hachem was born in Dakar on April 3, 1961. She was the oldest among her six siblings, and her family was part of the Lebanese diaspora in Africa.
Her grandparents had settled in Africa in the beginning of the twentieth century, during a wave of immigration orchestrated by France in order to establish a “buffer population” as an intermediate between the natives and the officials in French posts on the coasts of western Africa.
Just as most of the Lebanese diaspora in Africa, Ouidad’s parents and grandparents were traders, hoping to succeed in the field of groundnut and textile commerce.
Education as a Priority
Ever since her childhood, Ouidad made education her priority: she decided to break with the trading tradition of previous generations, and she affirmed this engagement by her perseverance and determination. However, coming from an oriental community, her ideals differed from those of other young girls of her age. Insatiably avid of culture and knowledge, Ouidad’s greatest wealth was her education; a value which she instilled in people all around her, in her brothers and sisters, and later on in her children and nephews.
To Give Is to Exist
All along her life, the «beloved mother» devoted the vast majority of her time in order to give what was best in her to the people she knew. She was always willing to deprive herself of the pleasures of life in order to help anyone with their education. She was one of those people who believed that to give is to exist.
An Example of Success
At the school of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Dakar, Ouidad quickly became diligent and rigorous. She began her secondary studies at the Saint Jeanne D’arc Institute, where she excelled at 18 years, having obtained a baccalaureate degree in mathematics and natural sciences with the honors of the jury in 1979.
She then began her studies at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, where she excelled once again, having obtained a degree in pharmacy in 1985 with the highest class average.
From Bangui to Paris
In 1986, Ouidad followed her husband, Dr. Souheil Akar, to the Central African Republic, where she opened the Pharmacy of Peace. A few years after settling in Bangui, she was forced to leave the country due to political instability and security reasons.
Then, in 1994, she decided to settle in Paris, and learned that she needed to get her degree in pharmacy accredited in France. Armed with courage, she returned once again to university and resumed her pharmacy studies at the Paris XI University. She wrote a new thesis about Tamoxifen and Hydroxytamoxifen and worked for 7 years in her own pharmacy located in the Petits Champs Street near the Opéra theatre in Paris.
Back to the Origins
However, eager to discover her origins, Ouidad traveled to her home country, which she had so far never visited, and settled in Beirut in 2001. There, she opened up a new pharmacy, «al-Markaziah», in the newly rebuilt neighborhood of Solidere, which was devastated during the civil war, and the renovation of which was the most prominent among Rafic Hariri’s works.
To Remember and To Rejoice
It was at the «al-Markaziah» pharmacy that Ouidad proved her entire devotion to others. Neighbours, passers-by and devoted clients grew attached to this woman who was always willing to help and offer advice, often well-beyond her duties as a pharmacist. Soon enough, she became widely known for her generosity. She reflected a long-lasting image of a woman who was courageous, hard-working and above all always willing to listen to others.
It was in this very neighbourhood, at the end of a workday, that Ouidad breathed her last, after being run over by a car on April 4, 2014. Ouidad left behind a son, Mohamed, 27, who has earned a BA in Business Management and an MA in Entrepreneurship and New Technologies from the Saint Joseph University, and a daughter, Maya, 23, who has earned a BA in Economic Sciences from the same university and an MA in Management and Finance from the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires.
The Tragic Day
This only happens to other people
Maya and D. are of the same generation, but they do not know each other. On April 4, 2014, D. deprived Maya from saying the word “mother” ever again. Whose fault was it? Was it the zeal of youth? The recklessness of parents? The failed prevention and traffic safety system? There will never be a definitive answer. The tragedy has occurred, however, and this story might sound trivial to you; a mere news item, one might say, a story on which one might simply comment «poor woman». But this same story might one day become that of your mother, your sister or your daughter.
It was 5 o’clock in the afternoon when Ouidad closed up her pharmacy in downtown Beirut. The sky was blue and the weather was suitable for a walk. The prospect of spending the weekend with her family was enough to make Ouidad feel happy. Only this was before she answered the final summons. It was a fatal blow. When a speeding car hit Ouidad, it crushed the life out of her, and with it all the hopes of future happy moments. Behind the wheel was a young woman, at 19 years of age, in the spring of her life, avid of powerful sensations, who was no doubt seeking to surpass all limits. When the paths of these two women collided, the result was fatal.
Life is unfair, as they say. The night before, Ouidad was blowing the 53rd candle on her birthday cake. She lived a sound life, and her days spent working rhymed perfectly with the days she spent raising her children. She was an attentive, serious woman, always eager to take care of others. Today, the image we have of her in our memories is that of a woman who was always ready to look after the slightest uneasiness in others. It is in a cry of agony that the people close to her ask themselves what happened and try to understand. Was it inevitable? Believers would say that it was “written”, while others would lament the negligence of the authorities. And when it comes to the 19-year-old girl, our sentiments appear to be contradictory. Should we wish the same upon her? Should we punish her? A great many questions of that sort , however, remain unanswered. Ouidad, you have devoted all your life for the sake of serving others. But know this: today, by no means will the brutal circumstances of your death go in vain. Ouidad, will your death finally raise collective awareness after the death of so many other victims? How many more lives must we lose in order for us to react? Rest in peace, Ouidad. We, your family, will never forget you. You will make our hearts beat until the end of time.