Andrew McConnell

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

Ahmad Al Jassem, 102, outside his family's shelter at a tented settlement in the Bekaa Valley.

'They say that if God loves you, He will let you live a long life. But I wish that He loved me a little less,' says Ahmad, who is 102. 'I wish that I didn’t live long enough to see my country in ruins.'
Ahmad fled Syria for his health: the war had made it impossible for him to get the prostate surgery that he needed so he came with his family to Lebanon. He got the surgery but now he can no longer go home. 'Syria is my home, my country, and I worship its soil. Now, the only place I can call home is this small tent.'
He and his family live in a plastic shelter his son built on a remote hillside in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
The war in Syria, he says 'makes me sad … to see my country destroyed and to know that all of these people are dying for no reason.' But he finds he gains some strength from his memories and from his family. When he was younger, he recalls: 'my favorite thing to do was to ride horses. I started to ride when I was around 15 years old and kept riding until people started driving cars and I started walking. I used to walk everywhere, I never had a car, never drove one.' Today he has 11 children and more grandchildren and great grandchildren than he can recall. 'I surely can’t remember all their names,' he says, laughing.

Object Name
Andrew McConnell
Bekaa Valley
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