South America


Visiting Brazil - August 2006 

Brazil was beautiful indeed... Not only the country, but its people too. 
The great majority were so kind, considerate, caring and gentle.

What made Brazil so special was that we met some fantastic Lebanese people.

And what made it so unforgettable was that we were reunited with dozens of long lost cousins. 

Sao Paulo, Brazil, is home to 18 Million people... that is 25 times the population of San Francisco and 4.5 the population of Lebanon...

Upon my arrival, Iskandar Riachy, a dear colleague was waiting and ushered me to another wing of the airport where many top Lebanese business men and community leaders were facilitating the welcome a few dozens of mostly women and children Lebanese refugees, many lost their homes and loved ones due to that senseless war in July 2006.  It made me very proud to watch for most of the day the humanitarian effort of those fine volunteers help their fellow countrymen.  This long and arduous trip has taken those refugees 5-7 days of waiting in makeshift shelters and dodging bombs in Lebanon, traveling on busses, ships and planes making several connections in different countries before reaching Sao Paulo. 

Sao Paulo, Brazil
Population:  18 Million
Largest Lebanese community
outside of Lebanon
Above:  ^  Helping Lebanese refugees ^ V  Roman Orthodox church  V
founded by Syrian and Lebanese
V Roster of
Club Homs founders
^ Catholic Church  and Bishop  Faris Maakaroon w/ Iskandar ^ Iskandar Riachi

Food wise, Brazil is known for its fine meat. 

They have specialty restaurants where they bring variety of tender and freshly cooked varieties of beef, lamb, pork and poultry on huge skewers and they cut it right at your table. 

The Lebanese food is so prevalent in most restaurants, even fast food, that visitors think it is Brazilian food. 

< <  Most popular Brazillian restaurants are called Churrascaria.  They include salad bars with savory mélange of Brazilian, Japanese (Sushi) and Lebanese (Tabouleh, baba ghannouge, hommus, kibbeh and sfiha).  Then the variety of meat, lamb, beef, pork and poultry brought to your table on huge skewers and carved at your table.  They continue to bring meat until all had enough... > >

w/Riachy Family

Walking thru the old stores in Sao Paulo reminded so much of the old souks of Beirut or Damascus.

Oh, best natural
drink in Brazil is...
chilled coconut milk

Maksoud Hotel
Tempting delicatessen
w/uncle John &
world famous Lebanese
singer Samir Hanna

Shweir connection:  

After Sunday church, we met with Alain Moujaes from Shweir and before long, we were walking to visit his parents, Nadia and Joseph at their home.  Nadia used to have her clothes tailored or altered by my mom.  a couple of days later, we visited Joseph brother, Pierre Moujaes at his restaurant and met with Rosalie Sawaya first at the Hotel and then we visited her at a fund raising luncheon where she made some home made Shweiry style mamoul in both crushed walnuts and another with dates.  It was held at the Hasbaya Club Du Brasil. a beautiful converted old Palace.  The five kids you see below are quintuplets born to a Mid Easter family.  shortly after their birth, the family was without father's support.  So, the the organization that Rosalie is a member of sponsored them and provide basic necessities and education for the family.

My cousin Dr. Fouad Tabsharani who lives in Berkeley, CA, about half an hour drive from me, told me that he recently met one of his long lost cousin who lives in Brazil, Sami Tabsharani.  He told me that if I go to Brazil to make sure to contact him.  Well, I did. 

What a coincidence... Sami and Fouad for decades were looking for one another... A few years ago, when Sami found out that Rosalie was from Shweir, he asked her to check if there was any contact info for his uncle Wadeeh Deeb Tabsharani... and yes, thru her family, she provided contact info... she also told Sami about for which he posted info and made contact with Fouad and later visited Shweir and also visited Fouad in California.

We scheduled an evening to meet and go out to dinner with Sami and his family, and with long lost cousins on my mother's side from the Merhege (Merege) family and Rosalie's and her family.    Unfortunately Rosalie could not make it that evening.  In the course of our discussion about the family relationship, and how Sami and Fouad were related, I learned that Maddool was his grandmother... I was so pleasantly surprised to come face to face with a long lost cousin...  Sami's grandma Maddool and my grandma Amelia, on my father's side, were sisters. 

To see grandma's family tree on my father's side and learn more about that side of the family click here to visit the bottom of the Family Tree web page and click on the Family tree to view the Saadallah Samaha family chart.  after you expand the chart, you will note in green boxes, Amelia is # 32 and Maddoul is #33. 

Also, Sami, if you would like to know more about your Great Grandma, (Maddoul and Amelia's mom), Grandma Mary, and how she came to America and brought the female contingency of the family with her click here to read about Grandma Mary, a true pioneer.     

Amazing the parallels... on my father's side, it was the women who emigrated to N America and the men stayed in Shweir.

On my mother's side, the men emigrated to S America and the women stayed behind.

OK, enough background... back to Sao Paulo.

Anwar, John and Beatriz, Sami & Fred Tabsharani
W/Sami & Beatriz and Col. Miguel Merege Ramires and  his niece Tais Merege Ramires

Precious Moment to meet long lost cousins on my mom's side and get a bonus surprise to meet cousins on my father's side at same time...

^  With Lebanese Brazilian Senator who was dining w/his family at next table - Friend of Isakandar
  Visiting air force base where cousin Miguel is stationed and new discovered cousin Beatriz, uncle John and Iskandar
Sfiha & Kibbeh

And at the Tabsharani's home, a wonderful gathering with family and friends...
In left picture above, Beatriz showing Rosalie and her daughter Soumaya, a rock they brought from Shweir

  A rock from Shweir is treasured in a beautiful case at the
home of Sami and Beatriz Tabsharani in Sao Paulo, Brazil

  Happy Birthday Sami

Thank you Rosalie, cousins Sami & Beatriz, Miguel and respective families
 and friends for your welcome and warm hospitality.

With much love


I came across a link to the Tabsharani - Yafet/Jafet - Chedid family website:

Hope it would help link as many of the descendants of these families





From Rozalie Sawaya Khoury,

A poem honoring all mothers and especially her late mother Najibeh: 


From: Elias Khouri [mailto: eliaskhouri  (at) uol dot com dot brazil      
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2005 7:13 AM
Subject: Homage
My name is Elias Georges EL Khouri, and I am son of Rosalie Adib Touma Sawaya El Khouri.
She asked me to send this letter as a homage to mother´s day. Thank you!
Best regards, Elias Khouri
 Rosalie Sawaya:  rosaliesawaya  (at) uol dot com dot brazil 


Sao Paulo                         Click on photos to enlarge

Meet Rosalie (bint Adib Touma Sawaya) and Georges El Khouri

 from left to right up side ) Edgard ( son ), Georges, Rosalie, Elias ( son ), ( from left to right down ) Simone and Sumaia ( daughters)

( from left to right up side ) Elias ( son ), Rosalie ( on my lap Gabriel Simone's son ), Georges, Sumaia ( daughter ) ( from left to right down ) Felipe ( Elias's son ), Juliana (Edgard's daughter ), Fernanda ( Elias's daughter ) and Simone (daughter )

Check out the oldest photos of Shweir (1921) sent to us courtesy of Rosalie. Also, check out some of the contributions to the "Take Five" web page sent by Elias Georges El Khouri.

From Shweir Guest Book
Rosalie Adib Touma Sawaya El Khouri
Location: Sao Paulo, SP BRAZIL
Date: Monday, July 31, 2000 at 21:01:56

Hi everybody ! I'm very very glad to know about your site! I don't have words  now to express my satisfaction! It's very important to know that Shweirieh people like you made this great and lovely work! Congratulations!!! If somebody wants to contact me, feel free to send a mail. In Brazil we have a lot of Shweirieh people living. I intend to make a page and send it to publish soon. I know some of the story and if I have some good pictures, I'll send it. Best Reagards from a Brazilian Shweirieh, Rosalie Sawaya 

Excerpts from Emails of George Matar and Rosalie:

Sabah il Kheir Ya Rosalie

You don't know how much we appreciate having someone like you in the Southern hemisphere. The material you are sending us are priceless. I had so many people tell me lately about the pictures you send (1921) specially the one on the Sarfad.  Also the tribute you wrote about your family, was very , very touchy. We are finding so many fine Shweirieh around the world through this site and in due time we hope we will find them all. It is so Ironic that you mentioned the direction of your energy. I just want to tell you my Sister Nora is doiong the same. her daughter sent her a computer and she's learning how to use it. You probably read her article in "Memories" also she sent a beautiful poem written in Arabic, also featured in the same section. She just sent another one, written during the war, and will be featured shortly. 

I hope there will be so many others like you two to do the same.  Rosalie I left Shweir in 1972, and have been in Texas ever since. I went to Shweir in 1983, & 1995. The family is planning to go back next year hopefully for eid al Moughtaribeen. I hope you and your family will meet us there. After the new year I am planning on organizing, through the web site, A mega group to join us all in Shweir on the same dates.. This I am hoping will be real big.   I have been married to Janice for 24 years, with two kids ( they are featured on the web site's "Community- Meet our Youth". Se if you can locate them. You can also see then on the Texas page "Shweirieh Bil Mahjar". Hilween mitl bayehun, actually Janice is the good looking one. 

Thank you for George Mitri's message translation (Below). I hope Anwar will cut and past it on the web along with the original message, how about that Anwar? I also think Rosalie's email is a good encouragement for a lot of Shweirieh to follow suit, i hope, Anwar, you will do the same with it.

Rosalie please stay in touch, we are looking forward to keep hearing from you...........One of these days I am planning to visit Brazil, and when I do, you will be the first on my list to visit.

God bless you and all your family. 

George Matar

-----Original Message-----

From: Rosalie Sawaya

Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 10:53 AM

To: George Matar                    Subject: Hello!!!!

Hi George,

I'm very happy with all of you, great Shweirieh in the world! This Website gave me new energy to direct my efforts in learning computer's operation!

Now I'm learning how to deal with all of this stuff!  I'm very proud of you all, because you are very kind and you're doing a great job with this site! You know, this project you're managing, gave us a lot of information and good feelings to all of Shweirieh people around the world! Keep going in this way, and please tell me if I can help you more! 

I read the homage to my parents and I cried a lot, because I'm always thinking about them! But, c'est la vie! Thank your for formatting the message, it's a beautiful work!  I'd like to send you more photos and pictures from Shweir, just give me a time to organize all material. How long are you in USA? Are you married?   Do you have children? I'd like to know more about you all. 

I'll send a reprint from Shweir book to you by mail soon!  Thanks for your kind and attention!

Best wishes,


P.S.: about Georges Mitri, he is my cousin's son. I gave him the web address, but he doesn't know English. Please, see bellow the translation:

I'm very happy to know that Shweir got a website. Shweir is my dad's city (Georges Mitri Sawaya ). My dad died in 1982. I've been with him to Lebanon in 1974 and stayed at my grandmother's house ( Samia Sawaya ). My name is Georges Mitri Sawaya Jr. and I live at Santos city, São Paulo state, Brazil. 

Santos is a big seaside city, 70 km ( about 40 miles ), far from São Paulo.  I saw a picture at the website that made me remember a little market place that my uncle Jamil owned that time.  I would like to keep contact with my family members. I don't know if they visited this site! 
A big huge and regards to you all 

Georges Mitri Sawaya Junior

The following is a poem that Rosalie rewrote from this rare book on Shweir.  
Rosalie, please scan some more pages from that book so we can feature them here.

Sawaya R Poem 2.JPG (64216 bytes)  This thumbnail is another poem from Rosalie  

In this one she used an thin pen and as such it was not as crisp to scan as a picture. 

It is a good example to see the difference between thin and thick pen.  the substance is 100% Shweirieh.  No question about it.  

Stay tuned when we begin to feature more excerpts from a 1921 - 1922  Shweir Guide book.  

Courtesty of Rosalie Touma Sawaya El Khoury.  Thank you Rosalie

A poem to Shweirieh sent by Rosalie Sawaya El Khouri, Sao Paolo, Brazil 

The above was a poem that Rosalie copied from an old book (1921) on Shweir.  To see a couple of  photos from that book, go the "Photos" web page.  



Thank you Rosalie and your family

We would like to hear from More Shweirieh in Brazil and living anywhere else in the world.  Thanks to all of you who connected with us.