Noura Ghazi, Executive Director of Nophotozone, a Lebanon-based Syrian organization

On leadership:

“What makes me a good leader is several things:

The most important is love – my love for what I do, my love for the families I work with, my love for Syria, my love for my family, and certainly my love for my husband.

Also my faith: my belief in what is right  in the issue of the missing and detainees in Syria and the world, regardless who they are and why they were lost or arrested;  my belief that major issues need great sacrifices; my belief that all persons in this world are able to leave their mark for the sake of humanity; my belief in my willingness to pay the price of change in order to spare other people from suffering; my belief that influence and change is born from the womb of suffering.

Third, my emotions prevail over my mind. I work primarily with my heart, then my mind in second place. Perhaps this is not helpful in my personal life, but it certainly is the reason for my success in my professional life and the cause I am working on.

Last but not least: admit your mistakes and feel grateful.

It is very important that we acknowledge our mistakes, bad choices, or even our failures, because recognition is the first step in developing ourselves, and gratitude is the opposite of regret. I do not mean here gratitude only for good people or good conditions, but also for those who offended us and for the bitter situations that we have gone through to learn and benefit.

My parents taught me that the word sorry and thank you are one of the most important words.

What makes good leaders are their dealings with reality and its variables, respect for others, teamwork, humility, good communication, knowledge of their capabilities – no one is able to save the entire world, but all of us are able to save a part.”

On achievements:

“I am proud of several accomplishments, the most important of which are: I fulfilled my promise to my father before the State Security Court when I was 13 years old and became a human rights lawyer. My marriage to my husband while he was in prison. The establishment of NoPhotoZone. I was able to capitalize on my pain in a way that might be beneficial to others, and was able to turn my story into a public cause.”

On challenges:

“People and even my family have a perception that I am always strong. This exhausts me a lot as I am not always strong, and I am not a public figure at all times. I feel weak and fail and make hundreds of mistakes, and I need to cry, flee and get rid of responsibilities. My whole life is not centered around the issue of the missing and the detainees: I have my own interests like all humans, I have my dog ​​and my cat, for example, I love to dance, I like to buy clothes, and I like a lot of silly things.”

“There are many misconceptions around me and about my capabilities. For example, many believe that I am able to help anyone to travel to Europe or obtain aid, and the truth is I can’t do that: I myself am not in Europe and my family is still in Syria.

They also believe that my frequent travel and my appearance on screens and conferences makes me in a very good financial condition. This is not true: I get very tired in seeking donors to obtain funding for Nophotozone or for aid to people. Many times, I feel that this harms my dignity – I feel that I am begging from donors.

Advice to female leaders:

“Passion is the key to success and change: be passionate about yourself, your cause, others, trust yourself and your ability, invest every detail of your suffering, do not see yourself as a victim but as a lucky one. Do not become a ready-made template, live as you are with everything in you, and accept yourself as you are. Every day brings us something new, always look to the positive side in everything and do not allow negativity to dominate you, and always take care of yourself so that you can help others.”