Filmmaker: Dima al-Joundi

"When I first opened my eyes we were running from bombs, going from house to house in Beirut," recalls Dima al-Joundi, who was born in Lebanon during the civil war. Her memories of school are synonymous with the sounds of explosions. At 18, al-Joundi went to study cinema in Belgium. There, she says, she discovered the true meaning of exile, alienation, and loneliness.

I remember having a hard time raising my girls... Life was so expensive too. I did various jobs. I sold corn cones near my house. I also opened a bakery and baked, like a man. I played the role of man and woman. It's true that the man is the woman's partner - but if he dies she has to rely on herself. She has to make sacrifices and take his place. If she isn't strong, the children will be lost.

Mariam al-Sakka

Some years later, as a professional filmmaker, she has drawn on that experience as she gives a voice to four women refugees in Beirut.

The "mother refugees", as she calls them and to whom she became very close, taught her the real meaning of exile.

One of them is Mariam al-Sakka, who fled Palestine when she was two months old soon after the Israeli occupation in 1948. Despite having now lived in Lebanon for 65 years, al-Sakka says as a Palestinian she has limited rights. She cannot work in state institutions or open a store - and her life is constantly surveilled.

Nahla Kolazar is Assyrian, her family originally Christian refugees from what is now northern Iraq. She came from Syria to Lebanon two years ago.

Torkia Omar Bakr and her family came from Iraq and she and her family now try to help the recent refugees from Syria. "We feel for them because we've been through the same thing," she says.

Kholoud al-Zahraa is one of the recent arrivals from Douma in Syria; she came to Lebanon nine months ago.

This film follows the personal stories of the "mother refugees" and shows how - despite the severe hardship of being long-term refugees and living in temporary shelters - these four women have fought to raise their families and provide for their children by farming, taking on different jobs - and watching movies rather than dwelling on the past.

We see how these four women have made Lebanon home for themselves and for their families, but yet still yearn, one day to return to the countries of their birth.

Source: Al Jazeera