Karla Rizk Jaalouk is a dedicated entrepreneur and president of the Brazil Friendship Group who’s constantly pursuing her goals.
- What can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Karla Rizk Jaalouk, I am Brazilian, my parents are Lebanese and I am married to Georges Jaalouk, a Lebanese doctor. I have 3 children – the 23-year-old eldest is studying medicine, the 2nd is 22 years old and has a degree in computer and communication engineering, and the 3rd is a 19-year-old boy studying computer science. I have lived in Lebanon for 25 years.
- How do you describe your life journey?
Like any woman, the day starts off hectic, organizing the household and following up on the daily schedule. As a mother, wife, daughter, president of the association and artist. Always the hectic schedule.
- Who has significantly impacted your life?
The person who most impacted my life was undoubtedly my mother, she was a strong woman who lightly controlled all the obstacles in life.
- What’s the purpose of The Brazil Friendship Group in the Middle East?
The Brazil Friendship Group was of great importance for any Brazilian arriving in Lebanon. And as for me, I would have definitely focused on the association’s main vision: to be able to welcome any Brazilian and show a voice for their importance, spread friendship, help each other, look out for one another, engage in the Lebanese society and be grounded in the meaning of solidarity.
- Tell us more about your mission as president of the group.
Today, as president of the Brazil Friendship Group, I see myself obliged to take action and do something for someone in need, never turn my back on anyone who asks for support, or simply provide something to put on their day-to-day plate. Always help in any way by trying as much as I can to pool resources to ensure help. It’s a great challenge these days, especially with what Lebanon is going through. Additionally, our many accomplishments entail: the aids we were able to provide during the Beirut Blast aftermath, the basic food baskets we were able to distribute from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic all through and through till the collapse of the economy in Lebanon; we were able to help. And I felt a responsibility in being able to lend that help, in any way the group could.
Moreover, a great accomplishment for the group, I was able to ensure the association’s registration in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- What was the biggest challenge in your journey?
The biggest challenge was on August 4, 2020, in the aftermath of the Beirut Port explosion. We saw many injured friends, and many known and unknown people having nowhere else to sleep and we certainly had to do something about it. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we went down the streets, we started to help without having enough resources, started asking for support from outside Lebanon –expats, sympathizers — We ran a “Help Us to Help” campaign, and we were able to help a lot of people, restore many homes, distribute basic food baskets, rebuild a church and a school. With the grace of God, resources appeared, and we passed them on to those in need. God guiding us.
- What can you say about being awarded the “Rio Branco” Medal?
The Rio Branco insígnia was a very important milestone for the Brazil Friendship Group. It is the highest award an association could receive. Honor and pride are what described my feeling while receiving such a medal because I was sure that I did my best and drove through the impossible to achieve this recognition.
- How do you manage your work & family life?
In order to live a harmonious life, I always try to reconcile both my family life and my work. My husband and children help me in my work and support me so I can continue my legacy, they are my biggest supporters.
- How is your artistic side playing a role in your position?
As an artist and a painter, I have a sensitive, delicate and organized side, which makes me engage the 2 positions very well, being able to notice and organize the most sensitive details. I also offer paintings of mine to raise funds for donations.
- What piece of advice would you give to women struggling with limiting beliefs set by their societies?
As we all know, Lebanon is a deeply patriarchal society, men are given more freedom and rights compared to women, and it’s not easy to live with that, with that knowledge and reality. The best advice I can give is “do not give up, keep on demanding your place in society, and be proud to be a woman.”
- If you could introduce only one piece of legislation to further gender balance, what would it be?
The Brazil Friendship Group is mostly rooted in women, women in position, and women prospering in the association as well in society. We are proud to be an organization that highly values women in the patriarchal society we live in. One of our values is ensuring a balance between the genders, without any differentiation between men and women in this day and age.
- What’s next for Karla Jaalouk?
Continuing my legacy, perpetuating the need for the Brazil Friendship Group to prosper, to continue its mission, and to help others because there shouldn’t be people asking for their basic needs in the world in this century.