Four-year-old Reine Asaad’s father was killed during the fighting which ensued between Christians and Muslims in the villages of southern Lebanon in the early 1980s. Reine’s mother left with her two young daughters for fear of their safety and moved into her father’s house, where they remained for two decades.
Eventually, the fighting came to an end. Reine became a teacher and the only bread-winner in her family. Her job was close to the abandoned home that she and her family had fled. Reine had always dreamed of returning to her home in Lebaa with her mother and sister, to reclaim the land and lives they had lost, but she had little hope, as she could not afford to repair the war-damaged home. Its windows and doors had been removed—the interior of the house was completely gutted and filled with rubble, and the exterior was pock-marked by years of bullets and shells.
Through a friend, Reine heard about HFHL, and she realized her dream might just be possible. She applied immediately and was soon accepted. On September 18, 2005, more than 20 years after the family had left, work began on rebuilding Reine’s home. A group of local volunteers—both Muslim and Christian—worked hard to transform the house and erase its scars. HFHL’s National Director, Dani El Tayar, said, “It was reconciliation in action, both on a personal and community level.”
Reine was extremely moved by the help of the volunteers: “Today I am very happy, especially with the presence of people working with us as if it were their home… This day has changed my attitude and perspective, and I say that from the depths of my heart.” With hard work and the open arms of those around her, Reine has been able to defy her circumstances and reclaim hope for herself and her family.