Maalula! This small Syrian village, where the SOS Chrétiens d’Orient adventure began, beloved by all who know it, because of its purely Syrian soul: in the street, inhabitants chat above the humming of motorcycles, when it is not the Angelus prayer that falls from the shining heights on the numerous churches’ cupolas in the village, long ago a step on the road to Jerusalem. The wind from the desert carries the perfumes of grapes, sumac and apricot, all grown by everyone here.
Telling you our love of Maalula is a thing, describing the concrete actions is another, as much important as the first. We could talk about the Vineyard project, set for five years and launched three years ago. But let us examinate a smaller project, developed by Patrick, head of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient in Maalula. A project that will soon have its first prototype…
The first thing you need to know is that apricot jam is a Maalula specialty. And it is by observing the local way of producing it that Patrick had an idea.
Indeed, Maalulians are proceeding as follows: they take the too damaged for sell apricots, smash them, spread it on wooden planks, and let the sun dry it. As simple as that.
In Maalula, access to electricity is random, but the sun is always here to help! So Patrick’s project consists in the designing and building of a Maalulian fruit Solar Dryer, both hygienic and useful.
Patrick’s dryer is personal, easily transportable, and made of five stacked planks, on which products are spread with sun heated air drying it before being evacuated through a small chimney. Curiously enough, all the influential people in Maalula had a positive opinion on the project, supporting it and thinking about future. We say « curiously » because, if SOS Volunteers have watches and schedules, Maalulians have Time. It is a true patience school! Incidentally, our volunteers, like true Maalulians, happen to use words like « Inch’Allah » (To God’s Grace), « Bukran » (tomorrow, or later), or « Baden » (later, in the wider meaning), all master words of the Maalulian life philosophy.
That way of life does certainly not allows to follow planned schedules like we do in Europe, but permits fruitful contacts and long tea (or coffee) times, a social link which is part of our volunteers action here. That shows concretely that we support our Christian brothers in their daily lives, and let them know that other Christians think about them and pray for them.
Far from drying hearts, this Solar Dryer will bring them closer, Inch’Allah.
You too, please help the Maalulians and all our Christian brothers to improve their daily life: make a donation!