NNA – In a tour around Bhairi in Zgherta district, you will feel the magnitude of works that have transformed this town into an ever evolving workshop that has gradually changed its familiar landscape to become one of the most distinctive towns, thanks to the relentless efforts of its residents who seek to promote it among the region’s major towns.
It has begun taking steps on a path that aims to shake off the dust of the past within a strategic plan, and a series of projects and ideas to be carried out by its mayor, Charbel Gibran, along with the support of the municipal council.
Bhairi is a summer town par excellence, rising about 1050 meters above sea level. Its people leave in winter, and return every summer, as well as on every occasion. It is one of the smaller towns in the district of Zgharta, as its area does not exceed one square kilometer. It lies below the valley overlooking Miziara town, about 15 km from the town of Zgharta, the center of the district, and is located between the towns of Tula, Aslot, Mazraat al Tuffah, and Miziara. The town can be reached through several entry points and roads from Miziara, or through Ejbeh - Basloukit, or from Mazraat Al Toufah town. The town has a population of about 3,000 people, of which only 1,100 are on registry lists. It has a widespread diaspora in most countries of the world, mainly in Australia and Brazil.
“Since my assumption of the presidency of the Municipal Council, I have been determined to advance the town in all respects. The Council and I have set an agenda for everything we will do according to the necessary priorities,” says the mayor. “We started a huge workshop, and we finished building the support walls that we accented with white rock stone, which bestowed upon the town a beautiful splendor. We also built channels to drain rainwater and irrigation. In addition, we opened new roads, connected neighborhoods to one another, expanded some internal roads and paved them with asphalt,” he added.
"We have worked from the beginning on expanding the entrance to the town so that the road reaches seven meters, with all it requires from supporting walls and waterways. All these works are carried out with the absolute support of MP Tony Suleiman Franjieh and the Ministry of Works. What remains is removing the electricity and telephone poles and moving them outside the road,” the mayor stated.
“We renewed generators, surveillance cameras, and prepared modern maps of new roads to expand the urban range of Bhairi. The town drinks from the Ghabsh spring, and a study is being conducted to establish a new reservoir and to secure future water access to homes through the gravity flow water system. It is worth mentioning that Ghabsh turned into a destination for every person seeking rest and recreation,” he said.
The town has a historic church, Mar Maroun Church, which is served by Padre Chahid Daaboul, a social association called the “Sacred Heart of Jesus”, and a sports club under the name of "Bhairi Youth Cultural Sports Club".
"The history of Mar Maroun Church in the town is not yet precisely known. The documents we are trying to gather in this regard indicate that it is about 100 years old, and our spiritual and ecclesiastical work in the parish is for the gates of heaven to be open in the parish of Saint Maroun El Bhairi,” Priest Daaboul revealed. He mentioned that the church was recently expanded and heated to welcome the faithful during winter. As for the near parish house, office, and hall, they were rehabilitated and inaugurated in the presence of His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, and Archdiocese Bishop Georges Bou Jaoudeh during the Patriarch's last visit to the town in October 2013.
"The town is now preparing to welcome Christmas and New Year through a series of celebrations sponsored by the municipality. From lighting the Christmas tree, to St. Barbara holiday, and the traditional celebration held by children on this occasion with the trick-or-treat tour, as well as the Christmas mass in which participate most of the town’s people, followed by distributing gifts to kids. This is not to mention epiphany eve and beatification. As for the biggest religious feast, it is the patron saint day, as an art evening is organized for the occasion, gathering all parishioners,” he added.
The priest further said that the town, despite its modest financial means, is trying as much as possible to revive recreational programs in cooperation with the municipality. Kermes is an annual occasion in which all the town's residents participate, and for which children and adults eagerly wait from year to year. It gathers the parishioners in the church yard, where they enjoy the finest food and the challenge games, which provide a nice family atmosphere, all of which is under the direct supervision and presence of the parish priest. In addition to the annual camps that the town receives and makes the parish directly active, there’s also the pastoral teams that work for two months, especially with the Vanguard groups and children, through weekly spiritual, social, and recreational activities.
President of the "Youth of the Heart of Jesus Association," Jean-Joseph Ghabash, pointed out that the association was founded in 1949 and was active in the town. “It is carrying out the tasks of the municipality before its establishment."
"Despite the modest resources, we are trying to revive cultural and social programs in cooperation with the municipality. The center of the association is a two-story building. We have finished preparing the first floor and put it in service. In addition, there is a theater where we host plays and cultural and social activities. As for the upper floor, it is still under construction and we are relying heavily on financial assistance and what we save from annual concerts, in addition to the money provided by the town’s expatriates,” he said.
Ghabash pointed out that there is a medical clinic in town, which is active in the summer due to the presence of most of the people in town, attended by a public health doctor and a dentist. However, this clinic lacks support and funding to develop its services. "We are very much counting on twinning with a health institution that can support it," he said.
As for the town’s mukhtar, Badawi Bustani, besides his work accomplishing the register processes of the town’s people without delay, he is on good terms with the municipality. In this regard, he said, “We are cooperating in a brotherly, permanent, and continuous manner with the municipality for the good of the people of the town and its development. We seek to make our town an annual destination for visitors.”
Also in the town is the Bhairi Youth Sports Cultural Club, which seeks to restructure its administration. It is active on the athletic, social, and cultural levels; the annual dinner it attends every summer stands proof to it, as well as the summer sports tournaments, such as football, basketball, chess and backgammon, which attract clubs from the district of Zgharta and the neighborhood, turning the town into a beehive swarming with visitors and nights that know no end.