children won’t work as farmers. That’s why I say the near future looks grim.” The fear Mr. Akasheh expresses is common among the elders, who want their children to remain nearby. “In some years, their parents will pass away. And then what will happen here? The young will remain in the city.” Mjalle Bawalsah, a 55-year-old who still works as an English teacher, says the villagers’ Christian faith helps support them in these troubled times, but they also need practical help.
“If we were not believers, we wouldn’t stay here. We are proud to have a village with all Christians, one of the last in the south. Although we are frustrated, we are proud to be Christians in this desert land, far from civilization and everything,” Mr. Bawalsah adds. “We suffer like saints,” he says, perhaps a reference to the Desert Saints of the early church. “But we want to keep our village,” he adds. “We want to see more people live here, to build homes and lives. That would be so much better for us.”
Retired bank employee Jamal Massadeh, 58, says no businesses are setting up shop in the region: “There’s no chance to be employed.” When asked to describe their daily life, he and his friends laugh. “There is nothing to do — no projects, no business, no future. If there were opportunities and projects then we, others and our families could actually work,” says Mr. Massadeh. Often, the elderly of the villages while away their hours sitting outside, weather permitting, and chatting or watching television.
The official publication of Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA)