By Heather Finnecy
Nazimeh Chammar has lived in this house in Mar Mikhael, Beirut for over 60 years. She took up residence here after her arranged marriage in 1948, a happy marriage that saw the birth of six girls and three boys. All were raised in this home, and all return with their own kids now.
A Muslim couple in a Christian district, she and her husband Ibrahim sent all their children to Christian schools to give them a broad education and make them part of local community life. Ibrahim, who passed away just two years ago, pushed all his daughters to get an education and to work so that they would have choice in marriage.
He wanted to ensure that none of them would have to be dependent on their husbands, but rather that all would first have lives of their own which would inform their decision. Neither he nor Nazimeh were highly educated, but Ibrahim could read and write, and Sundays in their home featured mandatory Arabic and French dictation and essay writing.
The family remained in their home through all the wars of the last decades. A bomb fell on the roof of the kitchen in 1980 with two of Nazimeh’s daughters inside. The kitchen was destroyed, but the girls survived. Now the grandmother of a very large family that has spread to other countries, Nazimeh and her home are still a hub for family time.