The Laisoon Sisters
Rasha and her sister Majd are 2 of 6 Laisoon sisters. They are from an old village that is known in the Bible as Ephron, but known these days as Taybeh. They took me to the tunnel in their old stone streets and alleyways through which it was written Jesus had passed. The hills of Palestine have this nostalgic beauty that is hard to explain. No matter what your religion or lack thereof, it is a historical area to say the very least. And it is a strange and kind of magical feeling to stand there on a precipice and look out over ancient olive groves that have seen the tracks of so many generations of different peoples.
Rasha was amazing and drove me all around Ramallah and out to her village, bringing me to meet and photograph women, telling me interesting tales of Palestine. Sharing with me what her life was like, a woman of my age living in this place called Palestine that has such a complicated existence.
The 3 eldest Laisoon girls are married and out of the house, and the 3 youngest live at their family home in Taybeh where I went one day. Their home has two parts: the old domed plaster building where they all once slept together as a family, and the new modern kitchen, salon, and formal living room. Rasha and her sisters lounging around the couches of the family room is a very familiar sight to me, and probably you, but just to your left is the door that leads to their more traditional house, and also the memories of their childhood.
Those memories include their Father who has passed away. They spoke of him fondly, as a great and loving man, a man who had to go off and work in other countries to support their family. As it is normally the case that the husband is the breadwinner and the wife tends to the kids, the family was left without an income when their father passed.
Rasha and her sisters have all attended the beautiful Birzeit University outside of Ramallah where they have received degrees and now work in professional fields locally. Their youngest sister has just graduated from her studies to become a lawyer. They have done the hard and honourable work of supporting the family after the loss of their father. They funded the remodeling of their home and are an impressive group of women who have kept their family going despite the lack of any male support whatever.
The Laisoon family is one of the Christian families in Palestine, of which there really are many, and especially in the Christian village of Taybeh. There is even a beer brewery there! The brewer is a woman to boot.
I went to their church with them, and also to an old home of their family's from generations before which is now a local museum. As an American who often feels that my only cultural heritage is McDonald's, it was a bit mind-bending to photograph Majd standing in front of belongings of her predecessors that look like they were found in an archaeology dig. There is a lot of history here. And Rasha, Majd and family, who look like they could have been plucked out of my hometown, are a part of that history here in Palestine. And, like most Palestinians, they love their homeland very much.