The first of seven old houses purchased by the Lebanese government to convert into museums dedicated to the country's emigrants was opened in Batroun city during the recent "Lebanese Diaspora Energy" Conference in Beirut.
Lebanon's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Mr. Gebran Bassil, who was actually born and raised in Batroun became the unofficial "tour guide" for a large delegation of conference participants who visited Batroun's old city to witness the unveiling of a plaque at the entrance to the first such museum. The old house was dedicated to the Lebanese living in Australia, where a sizeable number of families from Batroun emigrated.
The idea behind these emigrant museum houses is to encourage Lebanese in the diaspora to seek out an old house in their ancestral town or village and renovate it, creating a small museum with pictures and mementos.
The inauguration of the emigrant museum in Batroun came at the end of a day of tourist sightseeing for the conferences attendees. Their day began with a convoy of buses that took them to the high mountains of Laklook in the Batroun district. There, they inaugurated the Chatine Cedars Wood where they were handed a "Cedar Box" and invited to adopt a cedar tree. The wood would be open to the public and the cedars plantings available at any time to view.
Afterwards, they came down to Batroun where they walked on foot through the old city with Minsiter Bassil as their "tour guide." He explained the noble history of the city which he had learned from growing up there, including the fact that it had fended off many attacks from invaders and that it had an "unseen" city buried underground during earthquakes that hit the shores of the Mediterranean in 551 AD.
After this walking tour, the conference participants headed to Batrouniat, for lunch at a huge restaurant that also housed the city's Farmers' Market (Beit Al Mouna).