DW heads to LEbanon
Bertie Lumsden, DW’s Head of Charity, is currently working on the ground in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon with our partner charity Salam LADC for the next three weeks. He will be joined next week by nine other committee members where they will be assisting in aid distribution and long term education projects.
The team will be sending in updates, photographs, and journals which you can follow on our website as well as the DONT WALK Facebook page.
December 31, 2016
Last night we were invited to spend new years eve with the Abuhazem family. Their hospitality was humbling as we sat on cushions in their tent around a small stove enjoying the food of their homeland.
As the year came to a close we exchanged stories. They spoke of their life in Homs, of the thousands of young men and women at the beginning of the protests walking in the streets with olive branches; tasting a freedom they had never before known. They told of how, on the 18th of April 2011 at 1:30am, Assad’s forces surrounded the protesters in the clock square of Homs and opened fire, the sounds they heard as tens of thousands died, of their helplessness as the mosque’s called out for people to help yet they found themselves without the means to do so; facing only their own death. Once the shooting stopped, the soldiers stabbed anyone still alive. Dumping the bodies in mass graves they washed away the blood with firehoses. Syria is no home for them while Assad still rules.
I told them of my cousin, who having been captured by Germans in World War II was force marched the length of Italy then escaped from his concentration camp and lived in hiding in Italy for a year, only to be re-captured and transported back down Italy, was one day lined up on the platform of a train station with the other prisoners when an Italian women with a baby threw a loaf of bread towards him. The loaf was caught by the man stood next to him. Without hesitation the SS soldier guarding them drew his pistol and shot him before turning and shooting the woman. The eyes of that soldier was something my cousin could never forget. Many years later my cousin, having moved with his family to start a farm in South Africa went to the local supermarket and there at the checkout were the very same eyes. My cousin went to a friend of his who was the chief of police and told him what had happened, his friend told him it was in the past and there was nothing to be done. Two weeks later the cashier was killed in an armed robbery.
‘It is god’s justice’ they say. I can’t help but wonder what justice this life holds for them.
I came to realize their lives were lived through stories. And how, even here in Bekka in a tent of wood and tarpaulin, with warmth, humility and love they had made a home and kept the spirit of their way of life alive.
The new year was heralded by gunfire and fireworks. A few months earlier a boy had been killed by a falling bullet so we stayed inside. Setting of a few we had brought ourselves later for the kids.
January 8, 2017
This week we were with Salam as they launched the Salamat bus project. A mobile and interactive classroom that enables Salam and a team of volunteers to provide support as well as a diversity of learning environments to the local schools. The bus also enables Salam to reach children in settlements that would not otherwise have any access to education.
English, Maths, and Arabic are all taught using interactive tablets and games. The transformation in the spirits of the children was amazing as sullen faces turned into a bus full of brilliant smiles and giggles.'
January 16, 2017
Yesterday we helped Salam run a pop-up clothes store at Gharsseh for the parents and children who attend. Gharsseh, was set up and run by Syrian refugee women; many living in the same settlements as their students. The school provides primary school education for refugee children as well as women’s empowerment courses and is an essential part of the community. At the pop-up distribution donated items are hung on racks so refugees can choose for themselves the clothes that best suit them. Below are some of their picks and why they chose them. Some women asked to remain anonymous.