Dear residents and descendants of Baabdat,
Dear brothers and sisters,
More than half a century passed since the day I embarked on my first journey around the vast world to visit the first immigrants, their children and grand children...I traveled from Lebanon to many countries of the Americas and so I met with a lot of immigrants from my mother town Baabdat. There, I took notes of the history of Baabdat, the roots of the Baabdati emigration, its causes, its pioneers and families.
Numerous are the people from Lebanon and abroad who have cooperated with us, my son Ramez and me, and who have efficiently supported us in our endeavor to enrich this work. We particularly mention the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lebanese clubs abroad as well as the embassies, consulates and some educational, religious, cultural, and governmental institutions together with print and audio-visual media outlets and research centers...We cannot but express our most sincere thanks and gratitude to them all.
I also thank the enthusiastic individuals who have supported this project aimed at reviving the history of Baabdati emigration in a bid to reconnect Baabdat with its children overseas, and establish a communication line between its residents and descendants abroad. Those people have greatly supported us by providing us with information, documents, letters, photos and other important material which constituted a fundamental part of this website, and enabled us to obtain concrete, clear and accurate evidence on the history of Baabdati emigration, its causes, the places in which immigrants settled, and the modifications which affected their names and family names.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this website, together with the information it includes about the history of Baabdat, its families, family trees and roots, owes it all to the pioneer Father Naamtallah Maroun El Melki who had collected valuable historical information and documents that positively impacted Baabdat and its history. Following his death, his son Hanna El Melki, gathered all this information in "The History of Baabdat and Its Families", a book published in 1947.
While we have mainly resorted to the content of said book, we corrected and amended some historical and family-related information therein, and we added some missing fragments regarding, for the most part, the Baabdati emigrants who left between 1860 and 1920. We did some personal investigations concerning a large number of those particular emigrants, and we have met with them or with their children settled in the Americas, particularly in Argentina, Brazil and the United States of America. Our investigations also covered the Baabdati families who moved from Baabdat to other regions within Lebanon.
I address my special thanks to my beloved brother, Dr. Joseph Antoun Labaki, professor in history at the Lebanese University and former dean of its Faculty of Literature. As someone who has produced many writings on the history of Baabdat and Lebanon, his contribution to this achievement was of great value, and it emanated from his love and fondness of Baabdat. His collaboration was chiefly reflected in discussions, suggestions, texts, coordination, fact check, referencing and historical researches....
It is with deep sorrow that I also thank his daughter Jana, who passed away at a very young age, leaving behind a thorough detailed research which constituted the reference in the development of the text tackling the history of Baabdat.
I also express my gratitude to my dear brother Jean Antoun Labaki who helped us in corroborating facts, coordinating information, and in discussions, opinions and text development. He contributed, above all, in offering facts with some special Baabdati taste in addition to information, names and stories about many families. He has always been there for us and supportive to our work although living miles apart in the United States of America.
I am also grateful to my friend, the Kreim father Boulos Nassif who served the maronite congregation in Argentina for more than 40 years, and to the Argentinean Martha Francisca Azar Nissan Labaki of Lebanese origin, known as sister Andrea Azar in "Instituto Secular de las Hermanas de María de Schoenstatt" who supervised with deep passion, care, accuracy and integrity the development of Spanish texts.
I thank the journalist and writer Nawal Joseph Nasr who meticulously wrote the Arabic texts in such a poetic, delicate and attractive style while methodically, accurately and clearly linking all the topics and information.
I salute the souls of our ancestors, of those men and women who passed away, but were the true source of support to Baabdat wherever they went. I also pay special tribute to all those who emigrated as I am fully aware of the extent of their yearning to return to their mother town and kiss its soil as in expression of their love and nostalgia.
My dear brothers and sisters,
I hope that this achievement that I fulfilled with the help of my son Ramez would meet up to the aspirations of the late, present and future generations of Baabdat. We hope that our website would be the expression of our faithful respect and gratitude to all the sufferings and sacrifices they endured while in their immigration countries. We also wanted this website to speak of our appreciation to their loyalty and attachment to their Lebanese identity and their unfailing love for Baabdat.
Last but not least, I thank all those who will contribute in furnishing this website with new information and introducing clarifications, corrections, modifications and suggestions...but also constructive criticism to guarantee its continuity and success as a reliable reference. A work of such magnitude needs a persistent and accurate collective follow-up in addition to a constant communication among all the Baabdati people, be they residents or emigrants.
Your brother Toufic Antoun Labaki