Hello from Lebanon! Here is the first post since we arrived. We have been here for few days – Maria, Raquel and Rafaela arrived on Monday, and Júlia on Wednesday. Friedrich, the director of Relief&Reconciliation, came to pick us up at Beirut airport and drove us to the Akkar region, in the North of the country. The Peace Center of R&R, where we are living, is located in Bqerzala, a small village. In our way to Akkar we crossed Beirut by car. From the explanations Friedrich gave us, we understood that it city is divided because of religious beliefs – each religion has its own zone. Besides, it is a city in reconstruction –a lot of buildings were destroyed during the war and also in more recent fights.
For what we have seen so far, all Lebanon is a divided society. A word that is coming often to our minds is “reconciliation”. And that … is a big word. We left our countries wondering what we could do here, what we could give, and if we would have enough to give. And despite all those questions, we arrived full of energy and dreams, looking forward to give ourselves… But facing the reality, we discover a very complex world, spoken in a language completely strange to us (Arabic), and we find a slower rhythm than we expected. Instead of big things, our projects calm down, to meet the need of discovering, each moment and on each small thing, the hints to slowly understand the complex reality of the place, the work in loco of Peace Center, and how our common life can be born and grow in this context.
We share now our life on the Peace Center with Friedrich and two other volunteers that have been here since three months ago – Abby and Samer. Slowly, we get to know the rhythms and activities of the place: in the afternoon, some children from Bqerzala ( almost all Syrian refugees) come here to do their homework, with the help of teacher Pauline; after we have time for a small dance… Yesterday was a special day. Santa Claus came to the Peace Center, to join the kids on a small Christmas party. All the children were good kids – all got a present. A small present, that we feel… too small… Again, the will to give something more is alive on our chest… And we must remember that our presence is already important. A classic sentence, but truthful. The kids were happy, and it was a beautiful afternoon. On Sunday another Christmas party waits for us, this time in the refugee camp of Tel Abbas.
Besides meeting the children on the Peace Center, we have left the house to go to meet the village. We have been attending the novena celebrations of the maronite parish of Bqerzala, and discovering the beauty of this poetic sung services (in Arabic and Aramaic!). We met the priest (Abuna), deacon and church workers, we had an unexpected tea with the Maronite sisters (that run a religious school here), and slowly we get to know the activities of the youth group – after a concert yesterday, we wait to meet them in a Carnival today…
Let’s see what this Cristmas will bring to us! We wish you all a Merry Christmas!
عيد ميلاد سعيد