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The Forgotten part of my homeland
By Attiya Gamri

By visiting a lot of parts of Bethnahrin and not Lebanon would be for us ( Bahro Production) a big misser. The Assyrian-Suryoye in Lebanon showed us from the first day the love they have for Lebanon and that this land is the most beautiful part of our homeland".

Lebanon, the country of war and peace, a country of beauty and ruins, country of sea and mountains. Lebanon, where the Suryoye -Maronuyo (Maronites) have a long history and build this country to the most developed country in the Middle-East. In Lebanon we have 1.5 millions Maronites and half millions Assyrian-Suryoye from the other denominations like Chaldeans, Church of the East Assyrians, Melkites, Syrian Orthodox, Syriac-Catholic etc...

In Beirut where the Christians have their churches and the Muslims their mosques and live their daily life together, they build up Lebanon after the long war. The word Lebanon has its meaning in Syriac: Leb= heart, (a)non= God" the heart of God". That the word Lebanon is a Syriac word , was new for us and not only this word but many names of villages and citys have there origin in Syriac. Not only in the language we have evidences, also on the cuneiform writings of the early Assyrian-Suryoyo kings on stones in the area of the " Amoro" sea (=Meditteranean sea).

"The organizations in Europe and the USA often forget that Lebanon is also their homeland" said an Assyrian-Suryoyo student at the University in Beirut to us. Not only this student, many persons we met did also. '' This is also your homeland '' said Dr. Imad Chamoun to us. "Come and support us to build Lebanon for all of us'' said bishop Theofilos George Saliba the most important leader of the Syrian-Orthodox Community in Lebanon.

> The Syrian-Orthodox community has an active social and cultural life in Lebanon. The most active among the organizations are the churches. The three bishops Mor Theofilos George Saliba, bishop Afram and bishop Mata are leading the community. The big "Mor Gabriel-Project" is not finished but it will be a very huge project where the Syrian-Orthodox community can meet, work and pray together. To finish it soon they need support from the west. Besides the churches we have the Syriac Universal Alliance (S.U.A) which is active in Lebanon. Its president Habib Afram showed us the need and necessity of the contact with the Assyrian-Suryoye organizations ( From all the church denominations!) around the globe. ' Let's work together without making the name issue a problem' said Habib Afram.

The Maronite community in Lebanon has a long and interesting history. The Maronite church with its head His Holiness the Patriarch Mar Betrous Safer has a lot of influence on the politics in Lebanon. The history of the Suryoye-Marunoye church started in the 7th century. When the Saint Mor Maron decided to leave north Bethnahrin and settle in Lebanon together with a number of followers from the Assyrian-Suryoye churches. From that day they call themselves Maronoye. Until the end of the 17th century the West-Syriac language was the spoken language in the church.

After the 17th century they changed it into arabic. But still there are some prayers in Syriac. But the Maronoye in general do not know that they are Assyrian-Suryoye and they even do not know that some prayers are in Syriac. When we asked a woman, age of 27, who was studying at the university, about those particular prayers of the Maronite Church, she answered us: "I think that it is Hebrew". This answer showed that the biggest group of the Suryoye-Marunoye do not know their own history. On this matter Dr. Imad Chamoun and his organization "Syriac Cultural Front Lebanon" are working to change this. They set up educational activities for the Maronoye to make them aware about their own history." For this we need support and full understanding form the Assyrian-Suryoye political organizations' said Dr. Imad Chamoun. We believe that in the word "Suryoyo" lies the Unity. All the groups can use the Suryoye name because this is the oldest since Christianity and therefore the most logical word that will make this nation one. We do not need to all the names we simply could put it for example: "Suryoye-Assyrians, Suryoye-Maronoye, Suryoye-Chaldoye,..."

The social and cultural life of the Suryoye-Marunoye is developing. In the Assyrian Cultural Association where we met Mr. Shoukri Mourad, they meet every Sunday and discuss all kind of topics. Every Sunday almost 50 young boys and girls visit this Assyrian Cultural Association. This association is one of the oldest in Lebanon.

Mar Yakuob Church has the music and dance group "Rama" ( = "Romo" = High). Every evening the group is practising. In the group of Rama we have young people from Maalula and call themselves Aramiac, others call themselves Malkoye, others Assyrian, Suryoye and soon the group will have the first Maronoyo. The teacher Abud Sehdo-Gallo:'' Unity is not by talking but by working together and not in the politics but in the daily life like dancing and making music together. In this group there is no difference and discrimination, we dance on our cultural music and songs. All of us like it and feel that it is ours."

The Kneshto d' Rohmay Leshono Suryoyo ( Syriac Cultural Front ), Robert Gabriel welcome us in Syriac in their new building. They will try to give Syriac language lessons every year for students from Lebanon and around the world. Robert Gabriel: "We will start to ask every person that says that he/she loves this language to come for 2 months and get intensive courses in Syriac and she/he will leave Lebanon again but now he/she will speak and write Syriac " . Nobody can say that she/he can not write or speak Syriac anymore, it only costs you 2 months of your life said priest Elyas. With his words he means that even we should come and learn to read and write this language. The Kneshto d'Rohmay Leshono Suryoyo is busy to make a dictionary Syriac-English. Soon we can order it from them.

By the school "Taw-Meem-Simkat" ( The Assyrian Orphanage and National School), recently celebrated its 100th anniversary(!!!) in Beirut we have seen how difficult it is to keep the school teaching the Assyrian-Suryoye children because of the financial problems. One if its famous members is the Great Malfono Naoum Faik! There are many parents who can not pay the school. The school still teaches these children because they are Assyrian-Suryoye. In the morning we went to the school and visit a class, the children stand up and said; ''Brigh Safro'' to us. The Syriac teacher Gabriel Aydin told us that these children are practising the syriac they learn in their every day life. Gabriel Aydin: "We start by simple words like ; ''shlomo ''. In most of the houses they do not speak Syriac anymore. This is very painful". Even the school "Taw-Meem-Simkat" needs financial support from the USA and EU according Mr. Shabo Sawma, the president. " For every Suryoye-Assyrian it is not difficult to pay monthly 20$ to give an Assyrian-Suryoye a good education in Lebanon, by this we hope that people are prepared to do some donations , said mr. Shabo Sawma.

The economical situation in Lebanon is bad. The country is trying to build everything by itself, this is one of the reasons why everything is very expensive. They pay in dollars but they receive in Lebanese lira. To help this country we need to open economical relations with Lebanon. There are a lot of possibilities. The Assyrian-Suryoye schools, churches and cultural associations have somehow economical problems but still they do support the people and organize a lot of activities. The youth is trying to learn Syriac and they try to learn the history. I think there is much work to be done in Lebanon and the responsibility of the Assyrians-Suryoye-Maronoye in the diaspora is big. If we do not start to do something a big number of our population will leave Lebanon and this we have to prefend!!!

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Lebnaan Lebnaane - Lebanon is Lebanese - Le Liban est Libanais - لبنان لبناني
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