The volunteers in Syria took a break for a weekend in the north west of the country, located near Tartous. In a different landscape, far from the noise of the great cities where we used to work, each one was able to recharge, to walk on the seaside, hair in the wind, lost in thought, breathing the sea air. These few days have allowed new and former volunteers and heads of mission to get to know each other and to work better together.
On Saturday morning, we head off in the direction of the fortress of Masyaf, one of the jewels of the Syrian heritage, located in the province of Hama in the heart of the Orontes Valley. A guide explains to us about these imposing ruins overlooking the city. Built during the Byzantine era, this fortress is full of historic wealth. By its strategic position the castle was taken by the crusaders, then by the sect of assassins led by Rachid ad-Dil, which is called "the old on the mountain". This branch of the Ismailism, has perpetrated many political assassinations to destabilize the power of the Seljuq. It was never taken by Saladin, but was conquered by the Mongols, and then lived under Ottoman domination from 1516 until the arrival of the French in 1920.
By walking through the many galleries, cellars, vaulted pieces, we perceive the history of this castle through its architecture, which is particularly marked by the different eras. As a return to the past, we live the story of this place at every step.
After this cultural break, we meet at Osep’s house, a friend of the association, who lives in a village close to Kessab, at the Turkish border. Osep and his family warmly receive us as members of their family. Yet a lot of volunteers had never met them before. We are all impressed by the way these Christians live, with so little and yet a lot. While the bonfire crackles the tree branches, some enjoy a walk by the seaside and others play frisbee with the daughter of our host. Others prefer sitting quietly admiring the wonderful sunset. To close this magical day, we find ourselves around a barbecue. It's a simple and rewarding evening.
"I will never thank you enough for everything you do. You are at home here, you are like a family for us." Osep moves us by his encouraging and sincere words.
With a rested spirit filled with memories and the hope and desire that every volunteer has, we return to the towns of our missions to continue our work: to serve the Christians of the Orient.
Join the volunteers in Syria to discover the Syrian cultural heritage. Send your application !