Oahu resident seeks safe passage out of Lebanon
Oahu resident Ibrahim Elias Dik has a safe place to stay, food to eat, Internet access and family and friends surrounding him in his ancestral home of Roum, Lebanon.
But the 62-year-old Kapiolani Community College economics professor said he is ready to come home to Hawaii as soon as he can find a safe way out of the country, which has been torn by fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, he told the Star-Bulletin yesterday by phone.
Though Dik said he feels safe in the mountaintop village where he was born, "this morning, there were three huge explosions around my village. I don't know what they hit. There is no industry, no dams."
Dik, who was born in Roum and raised in Beiruit until he was 19 and came to the U.S., said he has been "hoping from week to week" that a diplomatic solution would emerge. He has lived in Hawaii since 1975.
"When everybody asks for a cease-fire, you'd think cease-fire would be coming," he said.
Though Roum is only 60 miles south of Beiruit, the main roads have been bombed out and the back roads are not safe to travel, Dik said.
"Your car might be hit any time," he said of the trip to Beiruit. "I'm stuck here. I cannot drive."
Until Friday, Dik had only received generic U.S. State Department e-mailed offers to evacuate him from Beiruit by boat, he said. On Friday he finally spoke by phone with a State Department worker who said the U.S. Embassy was aware of his situation, but did not offer any advice for getting safely from Roum to Beirut.
Dik's wife, Susan, who is in Bangkok on her way home from a trip she took to Malaysia after leaving Lebanon, said she is hoping for a cease-fire, "because I don't really see any other way for him to get out safely."
The Diks had been together in Lebanon until June 24, when Susan left before the hostilities broke out.
The ancient mountaintop village of Roum, which the Diks have visited regularly over the years, is "a very beautiful town, built on three hills," that many Beirut residents use as a summer getaway, Susan said.
Dik said that Roum's population is normally 1,000, but there are 2,000 refugees there now from southern Lebanon where fighting has been heaviest. The refugees are staying in churches, schools and with families, he said.
"I think Lebanon is the innocent victim there," Susan said. "It's Israel and Hezbollah's fight. It's really not their fight, but they're the ones that are paying the price for it."
Meanwhile, Big Island resident Marisa Dabney, 20, who had been in Beirut for a summer college course in Arabic, could be flying back to the U.S. as soon as today, her grandmother Carolyn Vanoven of Eden Roc said yesterday. Dabney, who is a student at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., has been at a U.S. base in Turkey, awaiting a flight, Vanoven said.
Another Big Island resident, Sarah Ahmadia, 27, arrived home in Hilo last week.