During the 20 years that the Norwegians spent with us in the mountain village of Chebaa we were always grateful for the way that they participated in our moments of happiness (like weddings) as well as moments of sorrow (like the funeral of our moukhtar). At the same time they shared their happy occations with us. One of those was Christmas of course, and in Chebaa the soldiers had a better chance than anywhere else in the UNIFIL-area of operations to experience a white Christmas, like the one you have in Norway.
Av Ramiz Dalli
Chebaa, Lebanon 26.11.2002
Ramiz Dalli er en person mange norske FN Veteraner kjenner fra Chebaa. Ramiz jobber som frilans journalist, og har blant annet fått publisert sine bilder i verdenspressen. Ramiz vil med jevne mellomrom skrive artikler for Veterannett som vi vil publisere her. Dette er den første artikkelen fra Ramiz, og her skriver han om forholdet mellom norske FN-soldater og de lokale innbyggerne i Chebaa.
Most of you know that Chebaa is mostly a sunni-muslim village, but in Lebanon we have a long tradition of co-existence between muslims and christians, so we was not completely unaware of what Christmas meant. However the Norwegians had a slightly different way of celebrating.
In Chebaa there was no slegde and no reindeers. On December the 24th every year children and grown-ups alike waited for the noisy PPK (Pansret Personell Kjøretøy) carrying Mr. Santa Claus himself. This white-bearded, red-clothed laughing man on top of this war-wehicle was not spraying out bullets. Instead he was throwing gifts to the children that was standing by the road. He made stops at the school and other places where he knew that there where more of less kind children and gave gifts like sweets, food, school-equipment and such things. The gifts that were donated by the soldiers themselves were an important sign that the soldiers of Norbatt really cared for us.
For those that had closer relations with HQ, be-it as translators, neighbours or friends there were opportunities to taste something different. It was this lamb-meat that was more salt than we had ever tasted before, it was this fish that smelled terrible.
We used to joke with the UN-soldiers and said that since the Lebanese enjoyed the Christmas with them, they ought to enjoy fasting with us during Ramadan. Somehow it never reached that stage, though……..