Reine Assad was only four years old when her father was killed in South Lebanon, another victim of the country’s vicious civil war. After his death, Reine’s mother, fearing for the safety of her two daughters, took them from their home and moved into her father’s house, where they remained for two decades.
Eventually, Lebanon’s civil war came to an end. Reine became a teacher and the only bread-winner in her family, commuting an hour every day to work at a school only a few minutes drive away from her family’s abandoned home. Reine 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 of doing so, 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, the exterior pock-marked by years of bulleting and shelling.
Through a friend, Reine heard about HFHL and realized that her dream might just be possible. She applied immediately and was soon accepted. Then, on a day in September, 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, says “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 and a home for herself and her family.