In Maalula, volunteers perpetuated an age-old tradition

EN - Thursday, 25 July 2019

In the little village of Maaloula, the sun is burning... And on the land we have been given there is not a single shady placed to rest. This morning, while walking to the monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, nobody knew what would happen: perpetuating an age-old tradition.

Father Abdallah, the rector of the monastery, takes us about two hundred meters away from the monastery and explains our mission: clearing a field from all the useless hay in order to later plant vegetables; that will allow the monastery to be self-sufficient. Whereas we are sitting in the shadow of the cloister, drinking the traditional tea, temperature is already 39°C. With our caps, armed with the appropriate tools, we are heading to our work, ready for surprises. 

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There, a guy from the village teaches us the traditional way of the burn farming, that he himself received from his father. You have to pile the hay up in small heaps, ignite them while watching the blaze: the slightest spark escaping from the fire shall be extinguished right away!

The heat of the fire added to the outside temperature makes us think about prophet Daniel and his three fellows. In the midst of the flames, they sang the glories of God. Here too, music is in the air. In the Foyer de la Joie (Home of Joy), a few hundreds meters away, children are singing and dancing on traditional Syrian folk songs.

But there is no time for daydreaming: an ember has just popped out. With the cool breeze rising, we must be cautious, the slightest error is fatal. We are beneath some grottos and enjoying them for freshness. While we are drinking tea, Abu Ahmad comes and brings apricots just harvested for us. Ripe and sweet, they melt in the mouth, releasing a pleasant scent. The pungent smell of the fire is already forgotten.


After the work, Father Abdallah asks a little shepherd to bring his flock of karakuls to finish the brushing. The field is now completely transformed and has nothing to do with the wasteland it was before.

To allow age-old traditions to be passed down from father to son, and Maaloula farmers to provide vegetable supply for their village, make a donation.sos chretiens orient syrie maaloula volontaires feu champ