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War-Torn Home Becomes Studio for Children’s Stories

3rd January 2024

Battered by war, an old family home in Lebanon seemed destined for dereliction. But now, the apartment has been stunningly renovated into a beautiful studio space for sharing children’s stories of redemption and transformation. The story of Hagar, a Kurdish refugee from Syria, was filmed there and broadcast on SAT-7 KIDS.

Belonging to the grandmother of Marianne Awaraji, who is SAT‑7 ARABIC’s Audience Relations Manager, the apartment was ravaged by conflict and filled with traumatic memories of the Lebanese civil war.

“When the war ended, [my family] returned to their village to find their house in ruins,” Marianne explains. “It was a burned shell of what it had once been. It had been stripped bare, with even the tiniest objects stolen. Despite the government’s limited assistance, [my family] gathered the courage to rebuild, as much as they could.” In an act of redemption earlier this year – 33 years after the Lebanese civil war came to an end – the apartment was completely restored. Marianne’s husband, Rawad, and brother, Mark, led an enthusiastic team in renovating the family home. They created a beautiful studio space within its walls, and the apartment is now being used to tell children’s personal stories of transformation.

“We had no idea that the once war-torn house, reduced to ashes, would be transformed into a vessel to bring glory to God and comfort to those who had suffered the ravages of war,” Marianne reflects. “In an unexpected turn of events, the ruins of destruction were transformed into beauty, a free studio for SAT-7 KIDS, where they would capture heartwarming stories of children who had experienced trauma too.”

Hagar’s Redemption

Hagar, which tells the true story of a young Kurdish refugee’s journey towards peace and redemption, was filmed in the apartment. The story is acted out by Hagar herself, bringing a high level of authenticity to each scene; she was able to channel her real memories and emotions as she relived her story, which begins in pain and suffering but concludes in hope and faith.

The short film shows Hagar in the apartment as she recalls scenes from the Syrian civil war, missing her friends and family that she left behind in the village of Afrin, and reminiscing about her previously peaceful childhood that was lost.

Her faith forms a crucial part of her story, which ends with a moving prayer:

“Dear Jesus, You protected me and will continue to protect my family. Please safeguard Syria, my cherished homeland and all my dear friends who I love in Afrin. I believe that even though I’m far away, You’ll never leave me alone. You have always looked after me… With You, Jesus, I always feel safe.”

Hagar was shown on the SAT-7 KIDS live program Behind the Door on December 7 in a special episode to mark the 16th anniversary of the channel. Hagar herself also appeared on the show as a guest.

The Lord’s Safety

Hagar’s journey, like those of so many girls in the Middle East and North Africa, is one in search of safety and security.

Andrea El-Mounayer, SAT-7 KIDS Channel Manager, explains how the film aligns with the channel’s new campaign, “With You, Lord, Safety Abides.” “Hagar’s journey becomes a testament to the security found in a deep relationship with our Lord,” she says. “It reassures us that, with the Lord, safety truly abides. This safety isn’t just physical; it encompasses moral, emotional, and spiritual aspects, allowing faith to guide us as we trust in God’s plans.”

Andrea added that both the apartment’s transformation and Hagar’s story “encapsulate the remarkable strength of the human spirit,” and that even in the face of destruction, both walls and worlds can be rebuilt.

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