News

The Center of Literature and Cultural Activities in Qaa Reopened

EN - Friday, 31 July 2020

Per day, the mission of a volunteer costs 33€ to the association. Support the action of a volunteer in Lebanon, make a donation.

 

donate button

 


In Qaa, the last Christian village of the Shia Bekaa, only a few years after violent Islamic attacks, the children of the village gather at the Center of Literature and Cultural Activities (CLAC) to share their many smiley faces. Coming from different religious and social backgrounds, the children of Qaa share both personal stories and a troubled past.

During the month of July, SOS Chrétiens d'Orient reopened the CLAC and re-launched the activities. A reopening allowing them to live together again in spite of everything that separates them.

We are only a few kilometres from the Syrian border, in the heart of this predominantly Shia region, and the Christians of Qaa are subject to isolation and were attacked by the past.

In 2016, eight terrorists blew themselves up in the heart of the village, in front of the Church St. Elias. This is just one of many attacks. The inhabitants of Qaa remain subject to painful memories and the fear of new power strikes. Many are leaving this region. Staying here requires courage and hope.

These are the qualities of those we have met, who have chosen to be extraordinarily courageous: to have the courage to raise their children in a quieter village and doing everything possible to offer them a joyful childhood, far from the worries that are still so present.

 

SOS Chrétiens Orient Liban enfants Bekaa volontaires

From then on, the inhabitants, united, are determined to find a peaceful life again. Olga, in charge of the CLAC, wanted to do her utmost for the children of the village. Thus, the CLAC of Qaa is a fundamental part of their lives. It is the one that allows them to forget this dark past by focusing on new activities. It is the one where young people and children, associations and parents meet. It is the one that offers the possibility of enjoying the equipment and facilities to learn and have fun, discovering through games and by looking towards a brighter future.

With the lockdown imposed by the coronavirus and the harsh economic and social crisis that now strikes Lebanon, this space of happiness had remained closed. The children, who no longer attend classes, were waiting eagerly to return to their common home. This is what the volunteers of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient came to offer them at the beginning of July. When they arrived on the spot, the association was welcomed with enthusiasm and great relief. The joy of the little ones was palpable.

The reopening took place successfully on July 14, around a great playful olympic games, on the theme of France. About sixty children ran, pull the rope, danced and had fun all together, visibly very happy to be back with the SOS team, an association that is now more than familiar to them. Explanations about the illustrious characters of French history, graduation ceremonies for the winning teams and distribution of sweets crowned this first day of reunion.

“It's a bit of a rush. The children would like to be sure that they can participate at all the activities of the day. I am walking under the bright sun, wandering between the volunteers and the children. The excitement is at its peak. I'm waiting for the beginning of the game. And when it all starts, when everything shakes around, it's a “tide of smiles” and joyful cheers that I see and hear. The tug-of-war  doesn't stop, they put all their heart into it, and it's impossible to tell which of the two teams that are facing each other is about to win. I am also attracted by other enthusiastic exclamations: it is the children's pyramids that let their imaginations run wild.

SOS Chrétiens Orient Liban enfants tir corde

I am quite surprised by so many faces that have no limits other than their childish madness, which already takes me away.

Coming from afar, a famous French music makes me look away. It's the musical chair that sees young and old running and laughing at the same time, on the freshly cut lawn of the CLAC garden.

It all smells like summer. But there's also a "chamboule-tout" or even an original relay with water and sweets. It's incredible, the children never stop. You can hear the birds and they come to take part in this crazy dance.

 

One last event that I hadn't noted on the program of the day: hugs and warm thanks from the youngest and oldest. Brown heads, laughing eyes and outstretched hands jostle each other”, testifies Anne Elen, volunteer in Lebanon.


Since the reopening, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the volunteers animate the activities of the CLAC. The children come to paint, draw, colour, create and have fun. Above all, they speak French and benefit from the presence of the volunteers to progress in the language, especially with the theatre activity.

"The theatre has helped me to improve my French."

 

SOS Chétiens Orient Liban enfant fille Bekaa

Sibelle, 14, plays the role of Queen Jezebel in a play entirely designed by the volunteers of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient. The play tells the story of Saint Elijah, one of the patron saints of the village. Sibelle, her sister and other friends enjoy it very much. They love the theatre and the opportunity to perform in front of their parents. Above all, it is an opportunity for them to "discover new words".

For Caline, a young Kurdish refugee from the village, it's a great way to integrate the culture, improve her French and play with new friends.

Here, therefore, the theatre set up at the CLAC is an unmissable and much-awaited event. The children appreciate and establish a relationship of trust and closeness with the volunteers, who are always happy to help and entertain them.

Through the theatre, SOS Chrétiens d'Orient unites all the children of the village behind the story of their patron saint, whose statue decorates the heart of Qaa, and whose feast is celebrated this July. With the CLAC, the volunteers bring smiles back to the children of this last Christian village, assailed by threats and fears.

They are now eager to play their three acts, relating the life of Saint Elijah, on July 31, around a modest buffet composed of what the inhabitants will want to prepare and bring. The mayor will take part in it and will have the joy of seeing the inhabitants get together.

Around games, sports, drawings, a real dialogue and a beautiful proximity, all take pleasure in making the heart beat of this establishment essential to the development of children.

Soon, other projects should enable the children to become more aware of waste sorting and cleanliness. For a long time to come, the volunteers should help the children of Qaa to smile a little more and have fun while improving their knowledge of French.

To continue to maintain this oasis of happiness in the heart of the Bekaa, we need your support.

Per day, the mission of a volunteer costs 33€ to the association. Support the action of a volunteer in Lebanon, make a donation.

 

donate button

 

Nathan and Anne Elen, volunteers in Lebanon.