A letter from a Lebanese mom
Friday, August 12,
Every night, all last week, as I lie down in bed, dead tired, starting to sleep I find my self short of writing to you. I roll my snug list in my head. All done except for your letter. Forgive me, Habibteh. Even what Istart composing for you disappears the next day with the new lists and newstories. Today they bombed all roads connecting to the Capital but few. People's next day, even next hour's plans keep changing. The destruction the Israeli bombs are creating is beyond imagination. Today, I stayed home. I managed to get lists of some shoe sizes for children inhabiting a small school I noticed near teta's home. My friend and I went around talking to the people and putting down lists of their needs. The lists are overwhelmingly long. It is true that the government and the Red Cross are providing the basics like food and soap. But most if not all have been inthe same clothes since they were forced to leave their villages and homes. Kamel happened to have an extra pair of shorts. He lent it to his friend to wear so his friend's wife can wash his friend's clothes. This pair of shorts has been going around....
I have been calling friends and relatives to send money to secure some of what is in the market before panic renders all the rich ones to buy and overstock. There will be nothing left for the Nazeheen [internally displaced]. Your aunts, Latifi and Laila,, together with Fadia, Farah's mom , a friend of hers and I are trying to take care of clothes and shoes for some thousand of them. This means a pair of slippers or sandals, a tshirt and a pair of shorts or trousers for boys and girls, and a kuftan for each woman. I'd go to the lobby of the school and the women and children would approach me telling me of their needs. Men are too shy to ask. Their wives do this for them. It is heart breaking to think how they had their own closetsfull of things of their own choice... They have to take what ever available even used clothes....We managed to start lists with their names and sizes sowe can be specific when shopping. Every morning we distribute what we managed to buy the previous after noon. In the evening we sort them out in labeled bags to facilitate distribution. Since we are in the mountains Latifi and I buy from Aley. Laila and Fadia buy from Beirut. We are all the time on the phones in the quiet hours comparing notes and exchanging ideas. We are learning from each other and in fact discoverin gour selves...
When we try to give money as a short cut, we are faced with proud resistance that amazes us. They are not beggers and they are very careful to convey this. This morning, as we were driving down the street to the little shop in the village we were stopped by a couple of veiled ladies with three children. They requested a ride with us to the same destination. They seemed to be from the Nazheen. Latifi offered them some money. They were startled as if bitten by a serpent. They would not take it. One woman started sobbing all the way to the shop. She thanked us through a curtain of tears. It is so hard to put one's self in their shoes. The moment I did I started crying with Laifi too.
With every dawn we get more and more Nazheen. Many of them are living it for the second time in few weeks. They have left their villages in the south and sought shelter with their relatives in Chayyah and Haret Hreik. Few days ago this area was bombarded. Pure residential area. 52 people were killed under the rubble of two buildings hit by Israeli bombs. The next day while the funeral was passing in the street leading to the cemetery, the funeral itself was bombarded, resulting in 15 more deadand 35 wounded. Your media won't let you see this. What you are told is the tip of the iceberg. However we start all over again, more homeless families that need rooms, mattresses, sheets, food, clothes, water, shoes…name it.
Lebanon has become one family. One of the great advantages of this war is that finally the sunni, drouz, christian from all factions, and the sheites are looking each other in the face and embracing...Even shop keepers from whatever their sect is when they know that we are buying for the Nazheen they reduce the prices as much as they can and substantially, knowing that they will not be able to replace their goods easily with this harsh Israeli seige. "We want to do our share too," one guy tells me. He is a student at AUB at the moment. He works in summer running a shoe store in Aley to pay part of his tuition the next semester. People forgot about the two Israeili captives. Everybody realizes now that it was only a trap to start a prepared plan, set since a long time to create a new Middle East at the expense of the Lebanese. This is clearly lobbying the majority of the people behind Nasrallah, something no one imagined would happen. The latest joke I heard yesterday says that Olmert called Fairouz, who sings a song that mentions a fictitious bridge called the bridge of Lawziyyeh. He asks her, "Could you be kind to tell us where is that bridge? We have destroyed all of them and we could not find this one on any map!!"
Tomorrow I am going to The school one last time ( hopefully unless they manage to add more Nazheen from the newly hurt areas). I have to give Amal her new pair of shoes. Her size for some reason was not available in three shops. Her left shoe was so torn that the front half of her foot was bare, touching the floor every time she walks...Finally I found her a pair. I feel so happy, restlessly waiting for the morning to come to see the smile on her face. I remembered a feeling of joy i thought was gone forever, the joy of finally possessing a new pair of shoes I would get on the occasion of the main holiday when I was a little girl. My sister and I would put our brand new shoes in front of our eyes on the pillows the night before the Eid. Right now, I am living the joy of Amal before I hand her the feeling tomorrow.
As I write to you Papa called me from downstairs where he is watching the news to tell me that the rescue convoy of 1000 cars that started from Marjoyoun, a Christian village , a few hours ago was hit by Israeli planes killing and wounding at least 18. What kind of peace are the Lebanese promised with this barbarism. Note that the convoy started only after they got permission from the Israeli Army!!! There is no presence whatsoever for any Hizbulla guerillas there, as it is a Christian village. They don't want to be caught in the cross fire so they decided to leave to Becca Plain accompanied by Lebanese police. Well there goes the joy I felt for a moment!!
Love you the world.