Based in Beirut, Lebanon
In the northeast corner of Lebanon is the predominately Christian village of Qaa. It shares a border with Syria and is located just about 5 km away from Hermel; a town that is feeling the repercussions of the neighboring war in Syria. After a four-hour ride in a small ten-person van, I arrived at night in the small town of Qaa with two of my friends. Our friend, Fernando who is a seasoned freelance photographer greeted us with open harms as we stepped out of the van and into the cool, crisp air. The sky was lit up by stars and in the distance a thick fog casted a white cloud over buildings and the mountains. Once out of the car, we headed to Fernando’s friend Abuna’s house. In Arabic, Abuna means father. His real name is Elian Nasrallah. He is a Greek Orthodox priest who lives with his family next to the church. He welcomes us and we have a dinner filled with labneh, bread, vegetables and chai. He is one of two priests in the town. Following dinner, we gather in the room heated by a gas burner and Turkish coffee. The conversation is mostly spoken in Arabic with the exception of my friends translating for me in English. The disadvantage of not speaking Arabic is a barrier I’m constantly working to overcome.
|On left: Church and Abuna's house right next to it. Photo taken by Kaylyn Hlavaty|