The Mother Refugees – Al Jazeera World


The Mother Refugees – Al Jazeera World

Four women refugees in Lebanon who have spent years raising their children in camps, with resilience and resourcefulness, hope one day to return home.
“When I first opened my eyes we were running from bombs, going from house to house in Beirut,” recalls Dima al-Joundi, who was born in Lebanon during the civil war. Her memories of school are synonymous with the sounds of explosions. At 18, al-Joundi went to study cinema in Belgium. There, she says, she discovered the true meaning of exile, alienation, and loneliness.
Some years later, as a professional filmmaker, she has drawn on that experience as she gives a voice to four women refugees in Beirut.

The “mother refugees”, as she calls them and to whom she became very close, taught her the real meaning of exile.

One of them is Mariam al-Sakka, who fled Palestine when she was two months old soon after the Israeli occupation in 1948. Despite having now lived in Lebanon for 65 years, al-Sakka says as a Palestinian she has limited rights. She cannot work in state institutions or open a store – and her life is constantly surveilled.

Nahla Kolazar is Assyrian, her family originally Christian refugees from what is now northern Iraq. She came from Syria to Lebanon two years ago.

Torkia Omar Bakr and her family came from Iraq and she and her family now try to help the recent refugees from Syria. “We feel for them because we’ve been through the same thing,” she says.

Kholoud al-Zahraa is one of the recent arrivals from Douma in Syria; she came to Lebanon nine months ago.

This film follows the personal stories of the “mother refugees” and shows how – despite the severe hardship of being long-term refugees and living in temporary shelters – these four women have fought to raise their families and provide for their children by farming, taking on different jobs – and watching movies rather than dwelling on the past.

We see how these four women have made Lebanon home for themselves and for their families, but yet still yearn, one day to return to the countries of their birth.

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  1. The young mother at the 38:47 minute mark who was gently rocking her precious little baby… talking with a smile on her face, both about her plight in Lebanon and memories of her home back in Syria… holding her head high and proud, even though she was a homeless refugee who survived on supplemental food picked up from dumpsters & sheep enclosures === like partially rotten lemons, pears, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. === brought both tears and smiles to my face…. as someone myself who has experienced her exact situation in my own youth, as a refugee in Thailand, after the Vietnam War… before coming to America…

    It's such a tragedy to see millions of such a proud people like these Syrians === who had been generous to millions of Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iraqis in decades past when those people needed help === now themselves being homeless … surviving from dumpsters and rotten food left for animals…

    Us humans indeed are a strange, strange species… in how we create so much war, violence, and deaths for ourselves and each other…

    Powerful little documentary. Thank you.

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