In a New Book, Women Relatives of the Missing in Lebanon Use the ‘Ink of Their Hearts’ to Tell Their Stories


Beirut, May 24, 2023—The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon (CFKDL) will release Windmills of Our Hearts, a new book of short stories by 15 women relatives of missing and forcibly disappeared persons in Lebanon. On June 1, ICTJ and CFKDL will host a public launch and book signing event at Dar el Wardieh in Hamra, Beirut. 

Windmills of Our Hearts is unlike any other book. The authors of the stories are women relatives of people who went missing or were forcibly disappeared during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. “This book was written with the ink of their hearts and the tears of their love and longing,” said Wadad Halwani, head of the CFKDL and one of the authors. “Our hope is that these stories, which come from the heart, will contribute to putting out the fire burning inside us and [lifting] the weight that has been heavy on our shoulders for so long.”

Over the past 12 months, ICTJ has organized a series of creative writing workshops for the 15 women led by Lebanese writer Fatima Sharafeddine. “Pain, hope, and years of struggle appear in these stories,” explained Sharafeddine. “Through writing, events and sentiments from non-verbal memory have been put into words and turned into documented narratives.”

For decades, these 15 women have never stopped searching for their loved ones, nor have they missed an opportunity to peacefully demand the truth about, and justice for, what happened to them. This time, with Windmills of Our Hearts, they have used writing to tell their stories and to express their feelings of pain, love, and most importantly hope.

“All of us are in this book. Those of us who believe that life is for everyone. Those of us who cling to hope for both the ones who have been taken unjustly and those who are still here. This book tells us that the overwhelming pain caused by disappearance is everyone’s pain,” asserted Lebanese singer Oumeima El Khalil who will perform at the event in Beirut on June 1.

“In these pages, women are not just numbers to be counted or quotes used to support the findings of research studies,” said head of ICTJ’s program in Lebanon Nour El Bejjani. “Reading this book, you will hear women’s voices. This story is their story. In this book, they describe events that we have been blinded to. They tell the stories they want us to hear. They breathe life into the cause and paint a picture that will remain with us.”

Lebanese artist Tania Radwan illustrated Windmills of Our Hearts, transforming the women’s written stories into rich and vibrant visual works of art. Dar Nelson Publishing House published the book, and generous support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands made it possible.

Windmills of Our Hearts is available in Arabic, English and French, and can be purchased online and in stores beginning June 1. All profits from the sale of the book will go to the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared to help sustain its decades-long efforts to uncover the truth, preserve memory, and pursue justice.