Showing 21 - 40 from 98 entries
> Under, through, over the Wall
> Onder, door, over de Muur
> Trails and maps
> Bussen en bewegingsvrijheid
> Buses and freedom of movement
> The permit issue revisited: toward the Easter...
> De schoolbus
> Liberation seeds
> Impressions of Gaza
> The Mad Permit Game
> Verdwijntruc: landeigenaars in Betlehem
> Vanishing Act: Land owners in Bethlehem
> The Crow Cries - Bethlehem 2006
> Sylvana Giacaman
> Odette El-Sleiby
> Sandra Nasser
> Malvina Jawal Awad
> Fayza Al Ayan
Journey of Suffering and Hope
The misfortune and suffering in my life started when I was two and a half year old. At that age I lost my dear Lebanese mother. I became deprived of good cloths, food, love and tenderness. My father Michel newly married when I was six years old. I felt the agony and pain of being an orphan and especially the existence of a double standard in treatment.
I was at that time living among my sisters and stepsisters in Bethlehem: two other sisters from my mother and three other sisters from my stepmother.
While working with my father at his candle factory in a grotto I studied at St. Joseph School and did household tasks, without complaining and talking.
I used to be patient, steadfast and obedient while carrying out these hard duties, as otherwise family war would break out at our home.
The days passed by and the 1967 war broke out. It was a very hard experience for all, especially for me. Those days were full of fears, concerns, nightmares.
The family ties with my two sisters were to a certain extent comforting to me, but they became less close over time. My eldest sister Suzy, 19 years old, married to a Bethlehemite neighbor, a young man coming from Honduras in Latin America, and within two weeks she left the country.
During this period, I felt the pain of being an orphan for the second time. My youngest sister was unhappy at home because my late stepmother did not like her. I used to take care of her and became the family scapegoat. I patiently endured all the insults, humiliation, discrimination and prejudice. My father was always the “husband of the lady” as people used to call him. He did not dare to treat us justly and properly because my stepmother had a strong influence on him.
I was very beautiful and popular among my classmates and it happened that my teacher, Fuad Giacaman, fell in love with me. He angered my father and when he asked my hand through the good offices of a St. Joseph nun, my father refused him. Another stage in my journey of suffering started.
I insisted on getting married to my teacher and rejected all sorts of temptations and justifications from both family circles and friends. I began a series of hunger strikes and my health deteriorated. After so many setbacks and frustrations I continued to stay sumud (steadfastness) and remained struggling until my parents gave up and agreed to my marriage. At the age of 16, a turning point in my new life began.
Fuad worked hard to have a happy family life together. Fuad decided to continue his university education while still teaching at St. Joseph and the Ecole des Freres School. He was lovely and friendly. I started with him a new journey during his education.
I helped him providing space, time, hospitality and friendliness to his classmates (male and female) during the six-year study period.
His university graduation was a moment of joy and happiness with tears of both pleasure and relief. We together completed a period of sacrifice, suffering and hard work, but the joy of the work ended in real success as Fuad received a B.A with honors. At the graduation ceremony he said in front of all attendees: “This B.A is for my Sylvana.” I accompanied him and his friends during the study years.
I became pregnant but the baby girl - Mirvette- was born dead. Another station of suffering began but the Almighty God gave me again the strength to overcome my pain. I was able to continue my successful struggle with my stepmother who did not allow my father to visit me.
After some years, my young sister got married to a Palestinian man from Venezuela. A speedy, short and simple wedding ceremony was organized by my father and stepmother for my beloved sister and shortly afterwards she left abroad. I felt lonely and frustrated, not only because of my mother's loss but also the emigration of my two dear sisters. I had no close friends but my beloved husband was like a father in spite of the presence of a living father who was however very far from me. God strengthened my faith, sumud and hope.
Together with my husband I continued my struggle in a rented house sharing the kitchen and bathroom with an elderly woman. I used to treat her and serve her in a very nice and friendly way in spite of the difficult financial and psychological circumstances we faced.
My husband used to work as a teacher in three schools to provide us with a living. Fuad has been my whole family and my whole life too. Later Teddy – our only son – was born and I was really very happy. I used to work hard in needlework and in some heritage and handicrafts so as to sell items to souvenir shops and help my husband.
Ghada, Rania and Mira – my three very beautiful daughters – were born and my happiness grew to replace some of my past sufferings and pain. Fuad and I continued to raise up our four children and we all were like brothers and friends. They were at the bosom of our hearts.
During the first intifada at the end of the 1980s I was six month pregnant of a baby boy and I was very happy to have another baby boy together with Teddy.
On Sunday during this popular uprising, while leaving the Sunday Church service with my husband, there were some confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian stone throwers.
My car was stuck and trapped between the two sides. An Israeli soldier threw a tear gas grenade at the youths and the grenade entered my car. I fainted and lost conscience for quite some time. I was admitted to the hospital. After the doctor’s examination, I was told that the oxygen supply was cut off from the embryo and as a result the baby boy had died.
I became frustrated, depressed and even very violent. I lost my inner peace and tenderness. I started to hate all Israelis and wanted to take revenge on all of them. Later on, I joined many national activities such as sit–inns and demonstrations. I was indignant.
I lost hope and started to ask myself and God, “Why am I like that - moving from one station of suffering to another?” I lost my faith and hope and my hatred grew.
One day, after the tragic incident of my baby boy who died, I climbed an electric stair after a doctor’s check up in Jerusalem. Something happened. I saw a Jewish family and a baby in a ****** behind. I was behind that family. The baby was about to fall down and die. In just a few seconds, an inner conflict started. What to do - to leave the baby and let it fall and die the way the Israeli soldiers had killed my baby, or save it? All of a sudden my faith and forgiveness came back. I jumped foreword to save the child from death. I screamed and wept and the family rushed to thank me. What happened that moment is really difficult to imagine and describe.
After this touchy incident, I came to know and understand that I can only be myself: Sylvana, the steadfast woman, the samid – the patient and the one willing to sacrifice in spite of all the misfortunes that befell me.
I decided to go ahead and renew my faith and sumud together with my husband, son, and three daughters.
My daughters and son all got married and live a happy life.
However, the middle one, Rania, faced after years of happy life and having three children a tragic incident.
Her husband ‘Adel Murra, a contractor, was knocked down and killed in a car accident together with another engineer. Three other youths became physically handicapped. The incident happened due to the absence of the rule of law at that time (2001).
The suffering, pain and agony came back to me and to my dear Rania. I accompanied her most of the time and slept on daily basis in her house to take care of her children until they recovered from the difficult conditions.
A new stage began for me, for her, and for all members of the family.
After some time, a ray of hope penetrated our life. A decision was taken by Rania, my husband and me, with the encouragement and blessing of some relatives and friends, to join Bethlehem University. Rania struggled hard, studied harder and carried out her mother’s duties in raising her children and doing the household tasks successfully although with concerns and difficulties. After a four–year university education Rania, with my encouragement, support and sumud, got her B.A in English and started to work.
Now when I see my beloved children loving each other and working hard to educate their children in the love of God, country and humanity, I feel a bit relaxed, relieved and happy.
My son opened a small business located in front of the Palestinian National Authority headquarters – a mini market. He gained a good name by his respect and good service to customers. During the second Intifada, while my son was working in his shop at 6 pm, the Israeli military F16 planes hit the P.A – headquarters in Bethlehem. During this air raid, my son’s shop was also hit and transformed into rubble and debris.
My husband and I were at home and all neighbors went out of their houses and ran to look for Teddy under the debris of the destroyed shop.
Providence interfered and a miracle happened. People found my son safe but shocked and with some bruises and injuries. He was completely wet as a result of the beverage bottles that broke and emptied over his whole body.
Thus, another loss accompanied by a miraculous incident came into my life. My son’s return to his three children, wife, father and mother gave me new strength, sumud and hope to continue my struggle in life. I am now 55 year old and grandmother of 12 grandchildren living happily with my husband and son and his family.
I am still a very active woman. I work at my son’s mini–market and I also have a small clothing boutique shop. I am still very active in social work, women’s empowerment, education and peace building and especially Christian-Muslim living together.
I am also a member in many educational, social and women’s institutions such as the Arab Educational Institute, the Antoniana Charitable Society, and the Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union.
I still continue to learn in all fields of education. I also do voluntary work to serve and help needy people. I continue to be a successful housewife, mother and grandmother, a business woman and a volunteer in social work - in spite of all the setbacks, suffering and pain.
These in fact have been stages that helped me to grow in steadfastness or sumud. The trials gave me great strength on my journey from suffering to hope and success.