Kamal Hakim’s first visit to Aassoun Tower was in September 2016, a collective shelter in the mountains of Minieh-Denieh hosting 58 Syrian families.

A one-hour drive from Tripoli city, the “tower” was initially intended as a luxury hotel, with a panoramic view on all the Northern coast of Lebanon and a 360° restaurant set on a rotating roof-top terrace. It was an ambitious project launched in a region known for a shortage of tourists. For the past four years, the tower owner has found it preferable to halt the construction and rent the uncompleted building to Syrian families for a monthly fee of 50,000 each LBP (30 euros). As it stood, the tower was a cement structure without doors, windows, electricity or water.

SOLIDARITES INTERNATIONAL intervened at this location in 2013 by providing assistance at all levels: apartments have been rehabilitated by adding doors, windows and partitions to ensure privacy for each family; the water network and sanitation system have been connected to the municipal network, and electricity has been connected, and mattress, blankets, hygiene kits have been distributed.

During that first visit, Kamal met some emblematic individuals, such as the members of the WaSH committee who handle the water related issues in the tower. Among them, Oum Sleiman (names have been changed), a fifty year- old woman, with a strong personality and considered the “mother” of the tower; Ahmad, young, nervous and dynamic; Abu Mustafa, the wise, former international lawyer; Mariam and Nour, women members of the committee, smiling and energetic; and Jamila, a teenager who wants to become a doctor.
Discussions came one after another as everyone shared a piece of his/her journey to Lebanon, with their daily struggles, frustrations and, melancholy; but funny stories too about the bonds of family and happiness. Through the mixture of laughter and tears, Kamal paints the encounter with   58 refugee families with a bold brush worthy of their stories.