"Live the joy of the community!” These words describe perfectly what volunteers live every monday at the monastery of Qara, which brothers and sisters are key actors of humanitarian aid in Syria. Immersed in the daily lives of the religious people of the community of Antioch, they share their meals, working time and religious offices. Let's follow Marie, a volunteer in Homs.
"Every week, I look forward to Monday. Around 8am, we leave our house in Homs for Qara. The landscapes change completely. The Monastery is located on the border of Lebanon, close to the mountains while Homs is one of the largest cities in Syria."
When the great portal of the monastery opens, she rediscovers this peaceful, flowery and miraculously spared from the terrorists threat that weighed on them less than two kilometers.
"Upon arrival in the refectory for breakfast, about twenty smiling faces turn to us manifesting their joy to see us. Those are the one of the sisters of the community, brother Jean, Father Daniel. It is also those of the volunteers who come to help the monastery and children who mostly come to boarding school, except Firas, a little abandoned boy, of a dozen years old, who was taken in during the war by the community. At the end of the meal, we are assigned to the task of the day by the mother superior."
Marie, and the other three volunteers are today sent to the orchard to help the community in the harvest of fruits: cherries, apricots, blackberries. Once picked up, they will be sold on the market to make the community live.
"I particularly remember the harvest of blackberries. I've never seen such juicy fruits. All our clothes were stained in red. If a person had walked in front of us, he could have accused us of murder by looking at our hands.”
The volunteers are called by Sister Marie Mag, responsible for donations. In the great shed of the monastery, they help her sort and prepare the orders of the shoes, which will be sent all over Syria.
Time flies so fast at the monastery. The bells ring, the mass begins, on a violin tune played by Louis-Alban. Volunteers are praying for Christians in the world and for peace. After years of war, of living in fear, hiding Christians, sometimes lacking of food, peace is a word that resonates like a grace in the hearts of the sisters and brothers of Qara.
"All good things come to an end. It's time for us to go back to Sadad where a family of martyr is waiting for us. I leave the monastery with the same smile as that of the sisters when they saw us arrived," Mary entrusts us while closing the great portal of the monastery of the community of Antioch.