When exiting towards the poorer southern districts of the city, it’s a world away from the affluence of downtown Beirut. Checkpoints are more frequent and the surroundings become more impoverished. The urban landscape consists of disorganized heavy concrete buildings, masses of people and chaotic bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Bourj el-Barajneh, meaning the Tower of Towers, is a municipality located in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The municipality lies between Beirut International Airport and the town of Haret Hreik. Its local population is mainly Lebanese Shia Muslims but due to its cheap housing and hospitable locals, it has acquired a sizable Lebanese Sunni Muslims as well as refugee populations like Kurds, Iraqis (including Iraqi Assyrians) and other refugee populations like recently arrived Syrian refugees that reside mainly in and around the local Palestinian refugee camp. The narrow alleys of Bourj el-Barajneh run between numerous old, new, mostly unfinished or poorly maintained buildings. The streets are narrow and the electricity wires and water hoses are bound together and hang above the streets.
I find that names of places and people carry a certain spirit of their identity. That neighborhood, true to its name, is the tower of towers. Towers are half-built castles made from weathered and broken stones. Their foundations are not solid and the rain pours so easily through their roof. Towers stand there carrying the weight of the past and yet always tall and proud and happy to prove they still stand regardless of everything they’ve gone through. Towers are built by many people’s labors, by their physical and moral strengths, their love for life, their family, and their neighbors. They are built one stone at a time, one level at a time, stretching their efforts towards the skies maybe searching for hope, for some kind of divine intervention. Towers are places where one feels safe, where one flees in terms of natural disasters to keep safe, and that’s exactly what Bourj el Barajne is to a lot of people.
Bourj el Barajne, one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods (Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian, Kurdish, Palestinian), stands united through Faith with a connection greater than any tongue can offer. A connection that is bound by threads of sharing lives that is built on loving thy neighbor, of helping, of caring, of being united against all external evil, of building and rebuilding. It’s in a constant state of struggle yet people live and they find joy. It’s a tower of Love built by the people for the people.
Because this tower of ours used to be built with strength from concrete love and unyielding trust, but the cracks in our foundation have grown quite long,
and after what happened we all agree repairs are a must, I #livelovelebanon and I will #fighton
May they rest in peace:
Shawki Droubi, Khodr Aleddine, Hussein Mostapha and his wife Leila Taleb, Samer, Hussein, Alaa Awada, Rawan Awad, Hanady Jomaa, Bilal Hammoud, Ahmad Awwada, Rawan Atwi, Mohamad Mezher, Sami, Hussein Hojeij, Hussein, Leyla Mazloum, Abdalla Atwi, and last but not least Adel Termos and his daughter…
One thought on “The Tower of Towers”
What a beautiful way with words!