Remembering John Fayyad : The Quiet Visionnaire

By Naoufel Gaddour, MD (University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia)

John was very sick when he decided to respond to the Tunisian Young Psychiatrists’ Association “Jeunes Psy” request for organizing the EMACAPAP (Eastern Mediterranean Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions) research training seminar in Monastir, Tunisia.

Neither the eternal transitional situation of EMACAPAP after the tragic loss of important founder members, nor the pain that resisted all available medications, prevented him from keeping to his trajectory of fostering evidence-based and consistent child and adolescent mental health services and policies in the Middle East. While chairing his State-of-Art lecture in Prague, I thought I noticed one or two unusual movements and mimics, but he kept everything secret until 3 or 4 weeks before he passed away.

John was officially Secretary General of EMACAPAP (but in reality the actual backbone of this association), a former IACAPAP vice-president, and a regular pillar of the many training programs throughout the world, becoming the mentor of many of the leaders in CAMH. He was a Professor at Balamand University in Beirut and a leading researcher in implementing services for children in situations of war, displacement and threat. These were some of his numerous titles, however, most important to my eyes, he was the incarnation of the improbable mixture of science and humility. Always respectful, polite, incredibly zen and a very good listener. I am sure his musical talents contributed to this gift. For all the groups he attended, he was the musician, playing on his piano the music of the world, with an incredible art of transition from one style and one region of the world to another. 

As a very good representative of a country and a culture on the “cross roads” (East and West, Islam and Christianity, English and French, Modernity and Tradition) he was able to connect people and create links for that he will always be remembered.

What better than the lyrics of this song Ya Msafer Wahdek of the Egyptian Singer Mohamed Abdelwahab to accompany him:
يا مسافر وحدك وفايتني
ليه تبعد عني وتشغلني؟

Oh, lone traveler, passing me,
Why do you leave me, and occupy my thoughts?