Summer 2001

 Summer 2001

Visiting Shweir after 30 years...    
Intro.:  August 2001 Overview

Sunrise in Shweir 

Aug 13   Children's Day  and Shweir .com Foundation Meeting  
Aug 14  Computer Workshop & Meeting Shweir Mayor  
Aug 14  Architects Shakeeb & Ziad Shaya
               New photos of Hotel Dhour Choueir   
Aug 16   Computer and family tree workshop  
Aug 17   Breakfast at Salwa Mirhej Home... 
Aug 19   Breakfast at the family of columnist Hilda Touma Sawaya
               Luncheon - Christening of M/M George Roustom's grandson at Alsad
Aug 21  Presentation by at Nun's Auditorium   
              Adel Abdel Ahad Family... 
Aug 22  Subhiyeh at Ain Al Sarfed
              Computer Workshop #3   
             Last meeting of in summer 2001 
            Samaha, Khneisser, Matar... Family gathering at Alsad Restaurant 
             Late Party at Matar family 
 Aug 23  Breakfast at family of Adel Khneisser     
              Antara, then and now   
              Em Atef and Abou Faris   
              Luncheon at Naoufa Khneisser family 
              Early evening gathering at Hotel Central and last pivtures in Shweir...   

Visiting Shweir after 30 years... by Anwar Kenicer

Overview:  In one year between May 2000 to May 2001, I met more Shweirieh via than I met in the previous 30 years... that experience has re-awakened my connection to family, friends, school, village and prompted me to visit Shweir after such a long absence.  When I was planning my trip, some people cautioned that spending a week to 10 days in Shweir would be plenty.  Well, I scheduled to spend three weeks... and towards the end of that time, I felt that I could spend at least one or two more weeks and I tried my best to extend my stay there by giving up the week I planned to spend in Paris... yes, giving up a week in Paris to stay in Shweir!... unfortunately, all flights to Paris were fully booked and oversold the last week of August - end of summer vacations and before school starts -.  As such, I had to leave as scheduled and feel that I did not get a chance to visit all family and friends and places of interest that I had hoped to do.  To those of you that I did not get chance to visit or spend as much time as I hoped, I offer my apologies and say... Inshallah next year.  To those of you who hosted us and invited us to your homes or to other places, I say: thank you very much for your big hearts and Shweiry hospitality.  

I was very happy to see so many of my cousins, friends and neighbors that I knew so long ago and to meet the new generation.  Yes, I was quite impressed with our young Shweirieh... they are smart, creative, resourceful, intelligent and fun loving.   

On the other hand, I was sad to see some economic decline (closed shops, little Msayfeen), scars of war (some buildings bombed or stripped of their interiors).  Many of the older folks are disenchanted with lots of empty promises.  It was also disappointing to note that there was a lack of united or unifying leadership.  Such divisiveness is possibly due to outside influences and differing political and/or religious affiliation. 

Getting to Beirut:  I left San Francisco on August 2, 2001 via United Airlines to Paris.  Earlier that day, my brother Sami Andre arrived from Paris and, since he works for United, facilitated my check in and an upgrade to Business Class.  Wow, those seats are so comfortable especially on long flights and the service was just great... Thanks brother... within two plus hours of arriving in Paris, I transferred and got on an Air France 747 to Beirut.  The flight was fully booked.  It was a nice smooth flight to Beirut arriving there about 10 p.m.  

At Beirut Airport:  My previous impressions were of an airport that you had to disembark on the tarmac and had to put up with nosy custom agents and pushy multiple baggage handlers with outstretched demanding open hands...    what a pleasant surprise... we exited via a jet way into a modern airport that rivals American big city airports.  Custom agents were pleasant and welcoming.  Baggage carts were plenty and they were free... that even beats many top airports in America... No pushy baggage handlers...  what a great welcome feeling... While waiting in line to show passport, a lady behind me asked me on the proper way to fill the entry form since she had been in Canada for 20 years...  after some small talk...  her husband is from the Moujaes family, if my memory serves me correctly of the Mikhael Yousef Moujaes, , from Bhamdoone...   with connection to the Moujaes of Shweir of course... small world isn't it.  

Meeting Family:  As soon as we finished customs, I exited the one way doors to a sea of people across a one meter high barrier that gave us some maneuverability of our luggage carts into the "Welcoming Hall".  I saw first my cousin Therez, she was right up front, then her sister,  Laila and my aunt Mary.  After big hellos and kisses, we maneuvered the baggage to outside where it was a big traffic jam of cars double and triple parking attempting to find a spot to pick up arrivals... after about 20 minutes, we loaded the baggage into (Therez's husband) Elie Debbas Range Rover, said hello to my cousin Jack Khneisser who was in his car and took off to the Debbas' home at an area overlooking Beirut.  At their home we spent a couple of hours enjoying the view from their balcony and a light snack while visiting with everyone.  

Show and tell:  The easiest way I have found to post so much information is to do it in chronological order by day.  I have received some reports on certain events of the Festival, thank you to those who prepared them, please bear with me until that day comes to post the info and photos.  I may not be able to describe or give caption to each photo at this time... 

 Intro.: August 2001 has become a major turning point for many Mughtaribeen including webmaster Anwar Kenicer, Elie Boukheir Family, Nabil Matar and George Matar, our Al Mukhtar bil Mahjar , the New Zealand contingency led by no other than Helena Corban Ataya and our young star Lama Katoul coming all the way from Abu Dhabi.  

We also believe that August 2001 has become a turning point for many Shweirieh as well... that is when Eid Al Mughtaribeen with festivities and celebrations with varied themes take place over a three weeks period.  The agenda is full with songs and dances, a village night, a nite to crown Miss Mughtaribeen and another to crown Miss Teenager, an afternoon for kids entertainment, a nite that combines Saif oo Terse, country songs and folklore dances.  

As we report these events, please keep in mind that we may misspell someone's name or write something that may contain errors, we welcome your comments and invite you to help us correct any errors you may find.

In the three weeks that we visited Shweir, we took over 1001 photos and met just as many beautiful faces.  It will take a while to sort the notes and match names to faces in pictures.  We know many of you are anxious to see the pictures... as such...   First I will post the digital photos with relevant reports that were submitted,  then I will post scanned photos from prints.... then I will add the names, editorials and captions where I can, so... here we go... 


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What a majestic setting... 


Friday  morning Elie Debbas took aunt Mary and  me to Harissa on the Way to Shweir...   

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<<Inside of side chapel

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towards Jounieh & Mediterranean

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looking from above 
P8020021.jpg (102140 bytes) He stopped to fill up with petrol and I spotted a near by vines overhead... We took scenic back roads and came to Shweir from Ain al Hanoote.  I made one stop at Yazbek store and said hello to him and his wife.  And another stop at Elie Bou Kheir's home...  It was great to see Elie, his father and his family.  We started talking and could not stop... Since I had my aunt and cousin, I promised Elie to see him at the Tennis courts in Dhour after I say hello to family and check in Dhour Choueir Hotel...
Click on photo below to go to the "Community" web page and read about the 
Tennis Matches organized by Elie BouKheir 
v  v  v
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< view of Al Mukhalles from Hotel Dhour Choueir
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Children practicing for the opening of the Festival

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My cousins: Shakeeb Shaya, his son Ziad and George Saadallah Samaha
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Sahar Joseph Mkahal Sawaya,
Emile Mikhael Sawaya (Ziad’s wife) 
and 2 daughters:
Vanessa & Elisa
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Nayla Khalil Rasheed Sawaya

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with my cousins at Lamise Patisserie in Dhour
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9 pm on our way to Alsad... Chalhoub family at their balcony
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would you like to join us for dinner?
They couldn't since Najib (in red) was flying next day to USA 
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Great dinner at Alsad
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11+ pm ran across Jamil Bousaab and Elie Boukheir strolling in Shweir 
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midnight near al Arzal ran into Issam Harick walking his dog
Saturday Morning with cousins Shakeeb and Amal (Khnaisser) Touma P8030042.jpg (44750 bytes) P8030043.jpg (47671 bytes)
here plus Nabil Matar in blue and Raymon Abdel Ahad on right, the hotel co-owner
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Baladieh balcony w/ Yousef Baaklini, I, Nayla, George & Nabil
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 Meeting my cousin Layal Khnaisser for the first time
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First to arrive at Alsad breakfast for the first meeting for Shweir Foundation
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What a dynamic group of young Shweirieh
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George Samaha, thank you for your hospitality and generous contribution of a delicious breakfast
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P8040058.jpg (45234 bytes)  < Haifa & Nuha Iskandar Touma Sawaya 
P8040059.jpg (41480 bytes) < Sahfik Bou Saab,
Roukoz Bou Nader (from Baskinta) 
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Aunt Mary, family & cousins
August 5, Sunday  morning after 8 a.m. Mass at Dayr Mar Youhanna, they gave grapes instead of holy bread P8040061.jpg (34552 bytes)
Cousin Elie who will be ordained Deacon soon
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with cousins Wissam & Elie Khnaisser 
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by 9:30, cousin Wissam whisked me to attend Mass at Alsaydeh, then swing by to Mar Boutros to attend the later portion of it   P8040066.jpg (55671 bytes) Mar Boutros inside  P8040068.jpg (31453 bytes)
Mar Boutros outside... they added the anater and overhang
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When I was an Altar boy, I used to sit on these benches and make sure the charcoal and incense ready
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George Ruostom at his home near Saydeh
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with family at Jack & Laila's home
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At Baladieh Balcony with cousins Rose & Layal Khnaisser
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Lama Katoul, Mary Sawaya, Yousef Halabi, Jamil Eid Khonaisser & I

To see the Festival Performance for Sunday Evening, 

Then on to Monday Morning, it was Eid al Raab.  
We managed to visit two out of three churches in Dhour...
No, I am not trying to impress how religious we are... At times I may not go to church for a long while, but here in Shweir, we wanted to show equal respect and support to all the churches and it was one of the best ways to meet as many of our relatives and friends.  

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and then I decided to walk to Shweir ... or considering how many places I planned to visit that afternoon, I thought that I could save some time by hitching a ride along my path... 

First car that passed stopped.  It was Mary Moujaes, Waleed's mom, whom I just met at the church earlier.  Not only did I get a ride but an invitation to visit and have some coffee and Shraab al Toot. I met Mary's daughter Nissrine, they showed me the many art collection that Nissrine and her father Shehadeh produced.

What a gifted & talented family...  

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by Shehadeh Moujaes
sorry for the reflection
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A painting of Shweir 
by Shehadeh Moujaes 

More info and photos on the way. 


After visiting the home of four cousins and took a picture of Mar Jeryes, I went to Dhour where I ran into George and Nabil... they were going to visit George Moujaes...  P8060121.jpg (35276 bytes) 
Mar Geryes in late afternoon
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George Moujaes produced pictures when he visited me in  San Francisco around 1972 including one in a convertible while  driving on Golden Gate Bridge.

While I was taking this picture of the guys above, my cousin George Samaha stepped aside to take a call from a friend of his in Saudi Arabia who attended SSS in the 50's and was giving him the identity of the male students in one of the pictures on the Memories web page of  Nabil Matar who provided us with the picture months earlier could mostly remember the names of the females in that picture.  I ended up talking with him and writing the missing names.  What a coincidence!

That evening I spent with my cousin George Samaha, his wife Mirna, his children Eliza, Salwa and Naseeb.  


Sunrise in Shweir

"So", George Matar (GM) asked me a couple of days after we arrived, "is there something you've been wanting to do now that you are in Shweir?"  
"Of course", I said.  "For one, I would like to take pictures of Shweir with the first rays of Sunrise".  
GM:  "You mean it would be okay with you if I wake you up tomorrow 45 minutes before sunrise so that we can be in position ready to take pictures at sunrise from Tallet Imad?" 
"Yes", I said.  Little did I know that I would not get to sleep till after 2:00 a.m. the night before.   But a promise between George and I is a promise... So, three hours later, George wakes me up and off we go...  we were unsuccessful in hitching a ride from Saha towards Kassouff Hotel that early in the morning, so with a brisk walk and a tote bag carrying several cameras and plenty of film we made it just in time to a good vantage point bellow Tallet Imad and here are some of the photos:  

Sunrise peaking from behind Sanneen inspired this treck
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View from Hotel Dhour Choueir
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The following three photos will give you larger pictures with more details... so it will take a few more seconds to download.  P8060140.jpg (136591 bytes) P8060141.jpg (228011 bytes) P8060142.jpg (182350 bytes)

And, what would you do in early morning when you finished taking as many pictures as you can from Tallet Imad? ...  

Lets walk to Ain Sindyani and take pictures of the churches and explore the neighborhood... 

Click on photo below to go to Ain Sindyani

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From Ain Sindyani, we stopped at Alsad and took some pictures... Click here to see Alsad 

Then off to check on the grapevine next to our old and empty house. 

 P8070021.JPG (83138 bytes) And to visit family, neighbors and friends 2001 18.JPG (19475 bytes)  << Salwa & Mansour Katoul

>> Here the Abou Nakhle Family

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children are Rouba & Riad Beshara
Adults: L-R:  Joseph Matar, Beshara,  his parents Evelyn & Jeryes & sister Randa Bou Nakhle
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Painting of Shweir at Bou Nakhle's residence
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Lunch at Alsad
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Meeting Naamat Al Sabbagh & Family.  

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What a wonderful family... with impressive and gifted talents in the arts and music.   We watched some video clips and listened to some audio of plays and music that they created and produced. (Mostly performed in Shweir and performed by Shweirieh).  Then we loaded the computer with data and Family Tree program.  Within 15 minutes, they began to create their family tree which prompted them to call a family elder and learn for the first time that the name of their great grandmother was Sheherazad Khneisser.   That is the beauty about starting the family tree ASAP (As Soon As Possible).  it prompt family members to get important information from their elders while they are still around and with good memory.  As soon as you complete the family tree, please send webmaster a copy via email to post it on  

Congratulation to Farid on his marriage to my cousin's daughter.  We would like a full report and some pictures... 

From here we attended that evening festivities... 
click here or on photo below go to:  August 7,  Tuesday 10:00 p.m.  Saha  

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On the morning of Wednesday, August 8, I walked to Shweir... 

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some villas 
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along the way
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coffee with my cousins 
Samira and Salwa

Then on to a meeting with Adeeb Aoun. This meeting was facilitated by Beshara Abou Nakhle  Within minutes of meeting with Adeeb Aoun and his wife, we realized the wealth and depth of information they have.   

Shortly after we began discussion, George and I felt that this is too important that we would rather video tape it. P8080048.JPG (50001 bytes) Where can we get a video on such a short notice...???  I know, the Shwerieh from  Newzealand Janice, has a state of the art digital video camera and they live 200 meters away...  Thank you for trusting your camera to us. P8080047.JPG (56104 bytes)
Miriam, Paul, Helen & Janice
Back into action... ceiling of a room near the entry P8080046.JPG (52144 bytes) P8080049.JPG (74427 bytes)
a homemade wheelbarrow 
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Wine and Arak containers of yesteryears
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Here is another look with flash
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inscriptions on the center tray are magnified top right
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old books & records

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Nibhan Moujaes (1919), Mrs. Aoun's Father
< <  When you enlarge the photo, look closely at the silhouette in the bottom right... you will see the reflection image of his daughter...  P8080058.JPG (18955 bytes)
Khalil Aoun Moujaes 
(Adib's dad)
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Deeb Aoun Moujaes
(Left) and Nimr Aoun Moujaes
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original Arzal with Najib Baik
Abou Souwan Family 
The Aoun Moujaes Family
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L 2 R Back row:
Shukrie Aoun Moujaes; Khalil Aoun Moujaes (Adib's dad);
Nassour Aoun Moujaes (abou Deeb);  Mariam Moujaes 
Front: Rashid; Amra (NZ); Milia
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The beginning of land that belong to ancestors of Dr. Klee (Our Honorary Shweirieh in Australia) 


After our meeting we went to Dhour with my cousin Beshara Bou Nakhle, we stopped for a bite to eat, and just by accident, we ran into and I met for the first time no other than Rabih Khoury, our Florida tech Guru.  Then got back to my hotel room to take a couple of afternoon pictures of the Saha and Al Mukhales. 

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Then onto the second meeting of Shweir Foundation at HOtel Dhour Choueir... 
and a walk around Saha and infront of Carnavale Restaurant... there we met some locals and some Mughtaribeen... aside from the usual suspects (to borrow a line from Casablanca), in the last picture on the right below there were Grace Zoorob, Ph.D. from New Orleans, LA, USA,  Joyce Eid, Montiverdi, Lebanon,  Issam Khneisser M.S., Shweir, Jnan BeaKhiri Khouri, Dhour and Doris K. Antoun from Bluefield, VA, USA

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Wednesday Morning... August 8, 2001

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Sunrise over Saneene
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Breakfast at the Matars... first they set it up on a large balcony on top floor with great views... but to make easy access, they moved to the garden...
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Hilda's mom & aunt with Al Mukhtaar & webmaster

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Text and more photos to come... 

After breakfast, we walked to Saha and from there we hitched a ride to Ain El Assis.  
Click here to see the new page of Ain El Assis...  

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Then from Ain El Assis, we went to Dhour, sat at Dhour Choueir Hotel and recharged our batteries at open air restaurant.  Then we met some interesting people and off we went...  

Mansour Bou Nader Moujaes, David Merhi Moujeas, GM, Elias Boutros Sawaya and his nephew, Jeremy Abraham Sawaya P8090099.JPG (67061 bytes) Jeremy told us that he is going to a Music practice at the Shweir High School in Ain el Hanoot... and off we went...  P8090099a.JPG (68202 bytes) P8090100.JPG (57745 bytes)
View of Mar Yohanna from the school
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typical classroom
bare bones
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OUTdated Library
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The Computers
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Music class 
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practicing in the parking lot 
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Shweir Music
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Front L2R
Salah Bou Saab
Aala Sawaya
Khalil Bou Kheir
Walid Zghaib
Celina Abou Saab

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Glad George is taking good notes

Mid Row L2R 
Nadin Halabi
Carla Halabi
Tony Moujaes
Samer Moujaes
Jeremey Sawaya
Bashar Sawaya

Back Row L2R
Manal Kheneisser
Darin Halabi
Diana Halabi
Wissam Sawaya
Bishara Ataya

After music rehearsal, we went to Mikhail Touma Sawaya's Home to express our condolences about the recent loss of  Rosette (Abi Kheir) Sawaya  P8090118.JPG (62372 bytes)
At Mikhail Sawaya Home

Sitting L2R
Loure Mitri Sawaya Abi kheir,
Najib Elias Matar,
Mikhail Hanna Sawaya,
George Elias Matar

Standing L2R
Raymond Mitri Sawaya,
Mansour Bou Nader Moujaes,
Ayman Jamil Abi Kheir,
Jamil Abi Kheir,
Issam Mikhail Sawaya,
Hayat Hanna Sawaya, Rayes
Elie George Moujaes
usually, I make a mess trying to pick toot...  2001 35.JPG (17771 bytes) well, with the hospitality of the Sawayas and Abi Kheirs,  this freshly picked toot dish appeared P8090119.JPG (41418 bytes)
Mulberry fruit 
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thank you!
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Joseph Nicola Samaha... 
wait does the guy in the background look familiar?...
P8090122.JPG (49267 bytes) <<  Remember when you used to hear "Laaassteeek"  Yousef Al Kindarji... He looks the same

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My cousin, Emile Tabsharani, "Al Harrook"
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Can you tell from their expression who won and who lost...?
P8090126.JPG (48470 bytes) Also Al Harrook looks as young as I saw him last, here with his grandson John ibn Waleed Tabsharani Ya Harrook, I hoped to see you and your family again & see uncle Wadih, but could not extend my stay... Next year, Inshallah P8090127.JPG (45813 bytes)  
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George Rostoum & Shakeeb Shaya
Aug 2001 15.JPG (51594 bytes) Al Mukhtar with friends enjoying a plateful of Karabeej      




Then off to another Eid al Mughtaribeen Nite Click on photo to see more

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August 10th,  Started the day with some nice Fatayer be Spanegh and mankooshe... 

P8090151.JPG (50225 bytes) << Elias Toufic Elias Hawi with Ahmad Halabi on R and Khalil Sawan on L P8100154.JPG (71095 bytes)   P8100155.JPG (73577 bytes)


From here my cousin George Saadallah Samaha took me to see the recently discovered church below the existing Dayr Mar Elias.  
To see those pictures, click on the photo below v v v 

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After the Dayr, we went to Alsad Restaurant...

P8100180.JPG (50611 bytes) The George & Mirna Saadallah Samaha Family P8100182.JPG (36997 bytes)
With Nassib, Eliza & Salwa
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+ Samir Bou Rizk


At dusk, off to Dhour to attend two events... 
6:00 - 8:00+ p.m.: Village Night and at 
8:30 p.m. to after midnight:  Video presentation and Hafli bil Saha
Click on the Karket al Arak to go to these events 

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August 11, Saturday

this section under construction...  P8100207.JPG (42509 bytes)   P8100208.JPG (31360 bytes) Souad, wife of Moujaes Moujaes and bint Fares Nameh from Ain Sindyaneh
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The trunk of a very old & sad Mulberry tree near Saha...
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View of Al Mukhaless and Sanneen from my Hotel room
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P8110011.JPG (38233 bytes) Then we went to Hotel Central for Miss Mughtaribeen Beauty Pageant 
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With my cousins Wissam & Rose Khnaisser and Nadia (Abou Samra) Abou Rahal
P8110113.JPG (45085 bytes)At the end of the Beauty Pageant, below, I saw Ghanem for a few minutes and took this picture...It is possibly one of the last pictures before his untimely death... 
Allah Yurhamoh.


And then onto a very special Saturday Night Event...

Miss Immigrants Beauty Pageant

To see this great event you need to go to 
Hotel Central by clicking on the 
photo below v v v

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Sunday, August 12

Under construction P8110114.JPG (51266 bytes) P8120115.JPG (58473 bytes) P8120116.JPG (37924 bytes) P8120117.JPG (58860 bytes)
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I had promised to come for lunch at the home of my cousin Nicola & Samira Shaya Khnaisser
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Nicola could not make it since he was still in the Abu Dhabi... I missed seeing him 
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Steve ibn Mony & Salma Mallah
Patricia & Paul kids of Suzie & Habib Mallah
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Above Paul
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Steve Mallah
P8120134.JPG (54890 bytes)Rose, top left with her sisters and the Mallah family... Mony (top) and L 2 R Salma, Suzie and Habib   P8120135.JPG (49535 bytes)
Street front of land that we are told belongs to Klee's ancestors.
Saydeh Church in background


From here, I went with my cousin Zeina Shaya/Nasr Khnaisser and Mary Nasr Khnaisser to Yanabeeh... 
Click here and below on picture to go to the eCommerce page and pictures of Yanabeeh v v v  

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Aug. 12,  Sunday  7:00 p.m. Ain Al Assis
Celebration in remembrance of the Author and Educator Girges Nijm Hammam.

Honoring the Teacher JERJES HAMMAM 
Organized by Women’s Renaissance Gathering – Shweir
amo3 al Nahda al Nisa’ia )  

To see this event, you need to go to Ain Al Assis by clicking on the photo below ... v v v

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Aug. 13,  Monday  

Stopped by the Baladieh... saw Wajih Nasr 

P8130188.JPG (34280 bytes) Aug 2001 12.JPG (16073 bytes)   P8130189.JPG (42661 bytes) W/ Maddool Tabsharani, Wajih Nasr and Aline Abou Saab


5:00 p.m. 
Children's Day:  Mini Studio, Dr. Miki, and lots of fun games and sing along...  

Although we attended the very beginning of this program, we had to leave about 5:30 to prepare for the Shweir Foundation Second meeting in Shweir... so we were only able to take a few  pictures of the young audience...  

To see more pictures you need to go to "Eid Mughtaribeen" 
web page by clicking on the photo below 
v v v

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Meanwhile at Hotel Dhour Choueir... 
Second Meeting of Shweir Foundation...

What a great looking, intelligent and ambitious group... P8130197.JPG (43409 bytes) P8130196.JPG (39970 bytes) P8130198.JPG (37147 bytes) Speak louder, I can't hear you... 
It sounds like the youngsters in Saha know how to have a heck of a party, and we could hear them via speakers real well... too well in fact that we had to move to a quieter place... the Tantra Room... P8130199.JPG (47478 bytes) P8130200.JPG (55427 bytes) P8130201.JPG (27690 bytes)
P8130202.JPG (22178 bytes)Tantra Room is set up as a disco -bar - dance partly underground... (much quieter)  it is nicely appointed with cozy booths and decor... whoever chose that name chose well... in case you are curious, Tantra is a form of yoga practiced for centuries in the far east and has recently become popular in Hawaii, parts of U.S. and Europe.  It helps bring those in a relationship to a higher level of communication & intimacy... enough about Tantra... Now, where are the minutes of that meeting?  
OK, if you are also curious, I assure you that no Tantra was practiced during the meeting because many of us were without significant others.  Besides, we were under the watchful eye of Helen Ataya and her support team...  


Tuesday August 14

Our First Computer workshop... was held at Toufic Moujaes computer center.  It is two doors to the left of the drugstore "Saydalieh".  The name above the entry says "Sat & Cell" but Toufic had another name in mind... He had a set of 10 computers connected on a local area network with 17" monitors... by the end of August he added a CD burner... 

Attended by Jeremy Sawaya, Janice, Helen & Mirriam Ataya, Nancy Korban, Issam Sawaya, Samer Moujaes, Najib Khnaisser and Lama Katoul.

P8130206.JPG (41475 bytes) Lama Katoul demonstrated posting entries on Bulletin Board P8130203.JPG (33129 bytes) P8130205.JPG (29361 bytes) P8130204.JPG (68171 bytes)
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Practicing on individual computers
And Anwar giving instructions on building your family tree P8140208.JPG (42376 bytes) The owner, Toufic Moujaes is a smoker.  He placed this sign >>> on the wall. 

Shortly before the workshop ended, Issam informed us that he arranged for our first meeting with Mayor Shawki Sawaya right after the computer session ended, so we took a brisk walk to the Baladieh (town hall)... youngest and oldest active members... P8140212.JPG (44168 bytes) with Mayor Shawki Sawaya and webmaster P8140211.JPG (43648 bytes) The Newzealand contingency with the Mayor
P8140213.JPG (42775 bytes) Helen Ataya with the guys...
Mayor Shawki Sawaya and the Matar Brothers 
P8140210.JPG (44430 bytes) With Mayor's blessings, Lama was assigned to design a banner for P8140221.JPG (29765 bytes)
4 hours later, this banner 5m x 1m was  displayed...

P8140214.JPG (57708 bytes)Then walking from Baladieh to the Dhour Choueir Hotel, the candidates for MissP8140215.JPG (47378 bytes) Teenage Beauty Pageant were doing a rehearsal.  Imagine for a moment this setting:  the road connecting the upper part of Dhour with Saha was closed, construction of the runway or catwalk was in full swing in the middle of the closed road, a road construction crew were doing asphalt repair work close by.  Yes, with all the distraction taking place around them, these young ladies were focused on doing their part right.  At times, they danced not to music, but someone calling the melody out loud... ta da tada daaa..., tee ta dee daaaa... That was the fisrt and only time they practiced on the actual setting, because it did not exist before then.  And what a great production and performance that event was... as you will see later.

By mid afternoon, I got a call from George Matar... "I would like you to meet some people, Can you join at in about 15 minutes?  take the covered stairs from the Saha till you get to the upper road ... and found my way to George Bou Rizk's home... P8140216.JPG (39459 bytes) P8140220.JPG (50551 bytes)

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Note on this 1925 Diploma above the seal..: "Town of Beirut, Syria"


Aug. 14, Tuesday  9:30 p.m.  Hotel Dhour Choueir 

To see Miss Teenage Beauty Contest you need to go to 
"Meet Our Youth" web page by clicking
 on the photo below 
v v v

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Al Saydeh Maronite Church in Dhour

Priest is Abouna Charbel El Hajj

P8150274.JPG (58719 bytes) P8140266.JPG (50579 bytes) >  A reminder of the civil war... 

Even the church was not spared

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My cousin Shakeeb Shaya with his son  Ziad, both top architects.  Ziad graduated #1 in Lebanon  and won many distinguished awards some displayed in photo P8150270.JPG (40941 bytes) Ziad was also a lead coordinator and producer of Eid al Mughtaribeen Festival Here Ziad Shaya infront of some of his projects

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Sneak preview of major upgrade nr Saha- to pie shaped land between road to Shweir & Mtull.
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Two large posters in his office caught my eye... old Shweir from 1800's that was enhanced and produced by Chadi Sawaya

and an aerial view.  I remember that Lara Shweiry sent us a similar picture, but I could not help take a picture of it.  

Lunch at my cousins Lulu & Riad Khneisser with the Matars and Hayat Halabi


On the table was only the appetizers... and the food kept on coming... P8150273.JPG (71553 bytes)


After Lunch, I took some pictures of the lobby of Hotel Dhour Choueir to see them click on the photo below... 

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Aug. 15, Wednesday 10:00  Shweiry Hafli - Saha 
Music of Shweir in Rihbaniyat, Saif oo Terse with the Master Jamil Eid Khonaisser with Foad Halim Sawaya with George Shallita and Emile Eid Khonaisser and co.  Dance by Shweiry young ladies.  

As you may have surmised by now, since we have more than a thousand pictures that we took in August 2001, it would take a very long time to feature them on one web page, as such, we have been re-assigning photos for certain events to other related web pages that do not have much photos... It is also an indirect way to introduce you to other web pages that you may not otherwise visit. 

This evening we are going to take you to a new web page called "Photos - People".  
Click on Bashar Sawaya photo below to go there...

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Morning of Thursday, August 16  Computer workshop

P8160301.JPG (38325 bytes) Our attendees included Omar Khneisser, Samer Moujaes, Walid Kablan Dahdouh, Lama Katoul and Phillip Rizk Baraket and his daughters, Grace & Pascale... P8160302.JPG (44915 bytes)


Aug. 16, Thursday  9:00 p.m.  Dayr Mar Elias 
Poetry night led by the poet Shawki Amar with his gifted poets 

To see Poetry and Song, you need to go to Dayr Mar Elias on the "Churches" web page by clicking on photo below v v v 

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August 17, Friday Morning:   

We were invited for breakfast at Salwa Mirhej Home..


If you have a vegetable or fruit garden and you are invited to someone's home for a meal, you usually bring some of that fruits &/or vegeeis...  P8160041.JPG (61288 bytes)
here George Moujaes, Nabil  & Saad Mirhej.  Nabil brought delicious tomatoes to gain clear passage...
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George & Janice Matar at Mirhej's balcony... 
if you look behind them on the top left side and you see a yellow awning in the distance... that is the Matar's building... P8170052.JPG (55800 bytes) Next morning stopped by the Dahdouh Home to take a picture of an old picture... P8170058.JPG (54386 bytes)


August 18, Saturday Morning... 

A breakfast gathering sponsored by Shweir Women's Society...

 To view photos you need to go to Alsad Restaurant which is on the eCommerce web page by clicking on the photo below... 

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Aug. 18, Saturday 9:00 p.m.  Saha
A Play:  Al Shakhess By Rahbany Brothers performed by Bshammoun Club of National Artists

To see this Hafli, you need to go to the "Photos People" web page by clicking on the photo below... v v v 

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August 19, Sunday  

Breakfast at the family of columnist Hilda Touma Sawaya Shurbaji 
If you wonder about that round brown thing in the middle of the table, that is the tastiest Kanafeh be Jiben...  

P8180050.JPG (61117 bytes) P8180051.JPG (69694 bytes) P8180052.JPG (62732 bytes) The view from that vantage point is spectacular... You can see Aley, Bhamdoun...  all the way to the airport & Mediterranean Sea
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 Hilda's mom Oly gave us a detailed narrative tour of every large and small town you can see... George took a look at the view and the valley or mountain of pine trees and what a fantastic potential for hiking trail... he got excited that he started to map it out in his mind... George.... George... focus, focus... 

And we looked at pictures of some of the Mughtaribeen... HIlda Sally & Sami.JPG (31574 bytes) Hilda 2.JPG (8411 bytes) HIlda.JPG (31947 bytes)

Time to go to Al Mukhalles Church in Saha to attend my cousin Elie Khnaisser ordination as deacon... 

You are all invited.  To attend this unique Ordination, you need to go to the "Churches" web clicking on Elie's picture below v v v 

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By Sunday afternoon, I promised George and Georgette Roustom to attend the celebration of their grandson's baptism at Alsad Restaurant.  Congratulations, what a wonderful party... 

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and then to rush to Saha since I promised Ziad Shaya to be there before 6 p.m. to be one the judges for the last event of the Eid Al Mughtaribeen Festival... 


Aug. 19, Sunday 6:00 p.m.  Saha  
Classic & New Car Show & Competition.  
Symbolic and artistic dances and performances 

To see the last event of the Festival, you need to go to the "People News" web page by clicking on the photo below  v  v  v 

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Excerpts from Bulletin Board:

Author Topic:   Hello From Shweir
posted 08-20-2001 04:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Webmaster      Reply w/Quote
Hello everyone... yes we miss you and miss logging on to the web.

We have been so busy during the festival and meeting with many people and organizations that we did not have much time to do as many of the things that we would like to do. full reports will follow later but for now... in short... I am so impressed by the talent and resourcefulness of our people in Dhour Shweir, The events of the Festival were great considering the limited resources they had to work with. it is amazing how they produce such programs, music, art etc...

I was so happy to see so many old friends, cousin and distant relatives... yet sad to see the economic decline of the town.
The Baladieh has adoppted they had signs spanning the street near Saha and big sign in front the stage for final event of the festival. Tomorrow, Tuesday a.m. we will go to pick up the 10 wheelchairs with the three organizations.
In the p.m., we will give a presentation to the town people at the nun's school auditorium about, internet and family trees.

Wednesday a.m. will give a demonstration to navigate and Family Tree programs at the internet cafe in Dhour... at p.m. we will hold last executive meeting for Shweir Foundation before we go back to our respective countries. at 9:00 p.m. Nabil and George Matar will host a fun party at their home.

Hilda, yesterday we had a great breakfast at your mom's and met your family.

We all send our love from Shweir.


IP: Logged

posted 08-20-2001 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Klee      Reply w/Quote
Isn't this historic. from Shweir...Anwar speaks to us transmitted via the website he created on a host computer at his home in another country on the other side of the world! are making history!
What great news...all of it: the banners the events the wheelchairs the opportunities that are opening up. It's just great. We're all there in spirit Congratulations.
Author Topic:   Your favourite places in or around Shweir
posted 08-20-2001 02:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Klee      Reply w/Quote
Where are your favourite places in or around Shweir?
Habeeb gave a beautiful description of scenery recently. Others have mentioned the activity of the Saha, or memories of their favourite family churches. Or just sitting under the trees, and EATING .
Where is YOUR favourite place?
What places should be listed in a "Shweir -Places to Visit" list, if there was one?

IP: Logged

posted 08-20-2001 04:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Webmaster      Reply w/Quote
Hello Dr. Klee,
How wonderful of you to keep the ball rolling for
Many great places... Here are some that I am aware of...
To stay... there is the new first class HOtel Dhour Choueir right at the Saha... very convenient with all the amenities... great restuarant, meeting rooms and large ball room with great views of Saha and mount Sanneen.
Hotel Central started in 1905, that is where they held Ms. Mughtaribeen Pageant and staying there has that feel of nostalgia of old Shweir. Will post more info and photos on the web soon.
Restuarants: Four popular ones... Alsad, Al Yanabeeh, Al Sarfed and Carnavale... also, more photos and info to follow within the next month.
There is so much to tell about our trip and so little time, especially during the festival...



August 20,  Monday afternoon... 

My cousin Bishara Bou Nakhle took me to Baalbeck... if you would like to see these pictures, you need to go to the "Travels" web page by clicking on the photo below v  v  v

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August 21, Tuesday 

Early Morning...  I went to the Baladieh trying to pick up Shweir banner to take with us to Beirut where the Lebanese American Association and Wheelchair Foundation are distributing but discovered this beautiful art show that was not well publicized... 

To see the Art Show, you need to go to "Baladieh" web page by clicking on photo of paintings below v v v 

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Then we went to Ekadat al Atibbaa, (Association of Doctors) building in Beirut where the distribution of Wheelchairs was attended by Fouad Malouf, founder of the Lebanese American Association, (LAA) and Nasser Abou Khalil, LAA  president, and Dr Fouad Freiha, prominent heart surgeon, distribution was coordinated by May Ofeish. The guest of Honor,  Mrs. Lahoud, the First Lady of Lebanon.    

The wheelchair distribution was a great success... to see the photos, you need to go to the "Community" web page by clicking on the photo below  v  v  v

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August 21 ...  Lunch at my cousin Amal Touma in Beirut... P8210192.JPG (45445 bytes)

And at 7:00 p.m., we made a presentation at the Nun's Auditorium... Before it began, many helped us pin or tape sample web pages and sample Family Trees to the side walls... 

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George & Nabil Matar and I gave an overview of how came about, what are our objectives, Mission Statement, achievements and short and long term goals... we encouraged the town's people to log on and spread the word... Lama Katoul gave a speech that she wrote...

The following is a speech written and delivered by Lama Katoul during Open Meeting for the people of Shweir held at the Nun's School Auditorium:  

One year ago, a handful of men had a dream; they longed for their roots.  They longed for what we know as home.  Disregarding time and distance, they wanted to reach those whom they left behind. 

George Matar, Nabil Matar, Elie Bou Kheir, Alfred Moujaes and Anwar Kenicer dream was to bring the Shweirieh together.

If not in person then by spirit.  What better way to do that than through what we all know now as World Wide Web.  With a lot of commitment and a big heart, became a reality.

A year ago it was just an idea, today it is a fact.  
A year ago it was few men, today it is a big family.  
Today we ask you all to join us so we can reach Shweiriehs everywhere.  
Today we ask you to join us in our journey to bring all the loved ones together.

We expect Shweir to grow and keep growing.

NO, we are sure that will grow bigger and bigger because what brings us together is our beloved hometown which time and distance can never erase from our hearts.     Thank you.  

Lama Katoul

Thank you Lama.  Your speech was and is an inspiration to young and old alike. 

After the presentation, we cleared up a miscommunication about which evening that we were supposed to visit Adel Abdel Ahad family... as such, we decided to visit them that evening on short notice since we had conflict with other times... 

Here Adel, and Elham with their children: Fadi, Hanadi,  Joanna, Nadine, Darine and the handsome young one Omar please (did I miss anybody or mispelled a name?) give them all our regards and thank you for your hospitality, That was a very nice evening we spent at your home.

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Click on the blue underlined subject to read about it...
Hanadi's report about Poetry and song at Dayr Mar Elias 
Hanadi's Guestbook Intro which was copied to "Meet Our Youth" web page 
Fadi's report on Miss Lebanon visiting Shweir  



Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Subhiyeh at Ain Al Sarfed... 

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I had to cut my visit to Ain Al Sarfed short since I had a 10:00 Computer workshop #3 in Dhour and I wanted to be there early enough to set up the network and software... so, my cousin took me there just in time...  those in attendance included Lama Katoul who was gracious to come again and demonstrate surfing and posting on the web site... Al Mukhtar joined us briefly since he had another commitment, my cousin Rose Khnaisser, Elias Samaha from Jouwaar (Elias is brother to Cynthia Samaha, a rising star... see a nite of poetry and song) and the family of Faris Khnaisser, yes, son of Abou Faris... I did not know that at the time who they were until later... otherwise I would have asked how come Faris was not there...  and where was he?   

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A note from George Matar:  

Here are the people in your Digital picture # 93 @ the computer Lab

L 2 R: Back Row: Fouad Khneisser;  Lama Khneisser; Elias Samaha Clara Sawaya; Samira Khneisser

Middle Row:  Aala Sawaya;  Rose Khneisser; Husam Kadura

Center: Anwar


That afternoon I promised Alexa Kiameh to meet her and take some pictures of  Hotel Central ... so if you want to see more about Hotel Central... say hello to Alexa by clicking on the photo below v v v

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Near Hotel Central, I spotted this beautiful villa which belongs to Elias Nasr Khonaisser family.  It has fantastic views of Shwier, the valley and all the way to Sanneen...  

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Then onto Dhour Choueir Hotel for the last meeting of Foundation in summer 2001  

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Shweir Champions

After this meeting, we rushed to Alsad Restaurant to attend a family gathering hosted by George & Mirna Samaha.  Attendees included George's sisters Labibeh and Najla and their respective families, George Matar, Antoinette & Jack Khnaisser and extended families...

Thank you George & Mirna for your wonderful hospitality.  

And then onto a late party hosted by the Matar Family... 

The setting on the terrace was under grape vines... P8220246.JPG (58403 bytes) And the "L" table was just as long to the right...  P8220247.JPG (46856 bytes) Does it look that they were having fun or what...?



Thursday August 23, 2001

Walked by Saha early morning and saw the Banner proudly displayed above Carnaval Restaurant

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Turned around, took a few steps and took this picture of Dhour Choueir Hotel

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I met the Matars in Saha and headed to Shweir for breakfast at the home of Adel Khneisser and family... 

Adel pointed out an adjacent home  where my family lived while we were building our home.   P8220250.JPG (61495 bytes) These fruits were just picked from the garden that morning...  P8220251.JPG (38451 bytes) Fruits are so tempting... 
Guess whose hand that is? 

Thank you for your great hospitality... 


< Then & Now >

George & Nabil re-enacting the old scene >>

Em Atef & Abou Faris >>>

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Take a closer look at the Antara, do you notice something peculiar???...  like a fig tree growing out of that vertical wall two stones above the a3ed??? or that is my imagination? 

P8230256.JPG (48575 bytes)   Em Atef & Abou Faris...

All my life I knew him as Abou Faris.   I did not know his real name until I was doing the family tree... his name is Fouad Khneisser

Abou Faris is like Mr. Shweir. Everyone in town knows Abou Faris, if there was an emergency, Shweir folks called on him.  He was someone you can count on... for several decades, he had the biggest, best and only selection of bicycles in town... That's where I learned to ride.  Ground floor Aa3ed
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we walked across the Antara to the home of Zeina Nadim Nasr Khneisser who had some home made tempting mhallabieh... 

I made a quick visit to my uncle Gibran Halabi... He was such a wonderful man and looked after me and my family with open heart... I am glad I visited him before he passed away... Allah yurhamoh. 

Lunch at Naoufa Khneisser Family

P8230258.JPG (23707 bytes)Then I hitched a ride with Zeina, the producer and director of Ya Raab Urham, the first movie made in Shweir with all Shweiry actors... What a talented lady... she gave me a ride to Naoufa Khneisser family house where they had lunch for P8230257.JPG (46356 bytes)us... my mom Antoinette and my Aunt Mary were there... it was nice to see my good friends and neighbors when I was growing up... Phillipe, Simone, Bahjat, Asteer and their respective families... unfortunately, Ghanem was unable to make it... Although I tried, I am sorry that I did not have an opportunity to visit with him... Allah Yurhamoh... we talked about family tree and compared info about computers. 

That afternoon, I found out that it was not possible to extend my stay since all flights the end of August were oversold... Thanks for all the effort made by Toni & Elie Korban, Mary Ofeish and by chance via this effort met over the phone my class mate Johnny Dagher from Mrouj who works for MEA and also tried... what a small world... 

By late afternoon, I met some of my friends at Hotel Central for an early evening get together... and took the last pictures in Shweir for this summer... 

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Next morning, my cousin Bishara Abou Nakhle picked me up to go to the airport... he was right on time and so calm and thoughtful... and a great help... and as soon as we loaded the car and started to drive, he asked me if I had my passport with me?... Oh, my passport... it is still at the front desk at the hotel... His question was so my rush to take care of administrative and last minute things, the hotel forgot to give it back to me and I forgot to check...  Thanks cousin... 

At the airport, they were oversold by 50 to 90 people, depending on who you talked to... even with confirmed reservation, I could not get on the morning flight and had to wait for the afternoon flight to Paris... 


Although I left, my mother, Antoinette stayed for an extra two weeks... here are some pictures she promised her friends to post... 

Introducing Christopher Henry Fouad Abou Saab

Fouad & Wajiha Abou Saab.JPG (51464 bytes) Hello everyone... My name is Christopher.  On left, I am with my proud grandparents Fouad & Wajiha Abou Saab and on right I am with my uncle Jack Abou Saab.  Daddy Henry and Mommy Rita were not here because they went to buy diapers... what are diapers??? Jack Abou Saab.JPG (42401 bytes)




Please excuse the dust... 

Under Construction... 

More to come... 






The following will be inserted in the chronological order... when we get to that date...





-----Original Message-----
From: Matar, George []
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2001 1:18 PM
Subject: 3 weeks is not enough

 I posted this message on the Web page but this morning I was asked to email it to my extensive list since many of you don't check the web page regularly...I hope that will change soon since we are doing so many exciting things.
Between Anwar and Myself we took more than 1200 pictures that, we will post some selective ones for your enjoyment over the next few months... That should be a good reason to keep checking the page, and if you have not signed the guestbook,  This is really a good time to do it.  And if you have not tried the BB, what are you waiting for?

Let me make Three quick announcements before I post the message:

*       Congratulations to Tony Khalil Moujaes on the birth of his beautiful Daughter Gabriella last month,  Tony please send me all the good information so I can officially send it out
*       Gaby Mirei Moujaes is recovering from a minor operation that took place last week.  He is doing fine.
*       I personally want to apologize to Elias Sawaya for being unable to plan a get together for a bite or two....  Also I am sure I promised others and just could not make it Sorry, catch you next year.... 
*       For the record I gained 12 pounds on this vacation.  So you see I do have a good excuse for missing food invitations... Everywhere The food was so delicious

Like the the "Love Story" them song says: "Where do I begin..."
So much to tell you, Although Habib, Klee, Ghassan and the rest of you described so well/ You where so accurate, but imagining eating a mankooshi and actually sinking your teeth into one are two completely different events. 
Jet lag is on right now, I am still sleepy, but I will give you a super saturated summary for all the good stuff that will be coming your way over the next few months with lots and lots of pictures.
1.      The sky is not falling in Shweir
2.      The generation that was born and raised during the war in Shweir is terrific. My hat's off to the parents and teachers.
3.      The environmental in our Village is making a come back
4.      The residential sector, (buildings) is "MOSTLY" good+
5.      The commercial, except for very few exceptions is super poor
6.      Dhour Shweir IS still beautiful where ever you are, except.... The
Main roads, The ex Farris Mushriq Blvd (was renamed) definitely requires a major and I mean a MAJOR Face lift.  We should have some big debates on this one.
7.      The Infrastructure (water, electricity,etc...) is Poor, for sure.
8.      The Ex SSS has never looked so beautiful, Mrs. Kassab and her Staff are doing a super job renovating the old school..We will have some mutual events next year.
9.      The never changing Sarfad, as good as ever
10.     Our Family of has brought a new sense of optimism to the village, stick around some wonderful things will be happening.
11.     The Wheelchairs arrived and already are being utilized by the three Charity organizations.
12.     The Beit al Shaykhokha project broke ground.
13.     The Mughtaribeen did participate in the Eid
14.     Everybody's sweetheart Helena Ataya (90+ years), from New Zealand was the Cinderela of the Festival
15.     Lama Katul (13 years) our youngest popular writer makes an impact.
16.     The Class of 1962 adopted the Mukhtar (Thanks Guys). They will be celebrating their 40th reunion next year in Shweir.
17.     Eid al Mughtaribeen will be celebrating it's official 40th anniversary next year, it is going to be real big, preparations are already on their way.....It will not be big with out you. I will be pressing you hard on this...Mark you Calendars for next year (Do it now, and start budgeting for it).
18.     Volunteers from the Scouts and Isaaf will be doing a house to house census to build a "World Wide" directory of ALL the Shweirieh... more to come on this.  Habeeb J. Moujaes and Adel Y. Halabi will be Championing this project
19.     We have Many local Shwierieh that will be Championing several on going projects, more to come on this.
I am getting sleepy now, the last thing on my mind right now is what Isis said in one of the posting....."I will be in Shweir next year" I think you should too

Your Mukhtar bil Mahjar (Who's freshly back from Shweir)
Aamo George