I am a 24 years old Frenchman and I left Paris in August 2012 with old Renault 4L car. I already went to Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Caucasus. The purpose of this journey (40 000 km on my own – more than twenty countries – one year traveling) is to meet the Christian communities of Orient, sometimes forgotten and persecuted in this part of the world. Arrived in Azerbaijan, I need your help hand to fund the continuation and the end of the adventure.
An ongoing odyssey
August 2012: I left France with my car, a Renault 4L model. My goal is to reach Lebanon for the visit of the Pope. Lebanon is also where the adventure of the “Mille et une Foi” (One thousand and one Faith) has to start officially. A teammate should join me there by plane.
September 2012: It took me one month to reach Lebanon, crossing Europe, the Balkans countries, and Turkey. Two days after my arrival in Beirut, my teammate informed me he will no longer come. A blow hard. But I refuse to abandon the project for which I have been involving myself so much for several months. Going to Lebanon was a good test for me and for my car. The adventure will take place, but alone.
Since September 2012, onboard my small car – baptized Habibimobile – I have met Christian communities of Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Georgia, Armenia and right now Azerbaidjan. They are families, monks, priests – often minorities and sometimes persecuted in this part of the world – who live their religion according to their traditions and rituals. In Lebanon, I found a hermit, probably one of the last of the Middle East.
In southern Turkey, on the plateau of Tur Abdin – « The mountain of God’s servant » in Aramaic – I make a stop at the Monastery of Mor Gabriel where Syriac Orthodox monks continue to pray in the language of Jesus Christ, even if they are victims of lands spoliations and intimidations.
Once in Iraq, I stay in a Chaldean family force to leave his native village, as thousands of the people from their community. In addition to the dramatic fate affecting these communities, I discover also the beauty of ancestral rites. In Iraq, I have the opportunity to attend a Chaldean wedding or a funeral ceremony according to the Assyrian rite in a Kurdish village. One rarely can find photos of these events.
At the same time, “Mille et une Foi” is a total immersion in Orient. An odyssey in an old-fashion way, with a rustic and friendly car. Added to mechanical problems and tough climate (minus 20 degrees in Armenia), the way is full of unexpected encounters.
This is a just an overview of the adventure. You can follow it through the photos on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MilleEtUneFoi) and on the website of “Mille et une Foi” (http://www.milleetunefoi.blogs.usj.edu.lb).
GENESEE OF THE PROJECT
January 2012: I work in Lebanon for a humanitarian organization. There, I am fascinated by the fervor and the history of the Christian communities whose daily lives is little known in the Western world. Few people know what make the difference between Egyptian Copts, Maronites of Lebanon, Chaldeans of Iraq or Assyrians from Iran? Something must be dug there. Through the arrival of Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria, uprooted from their ancestral land, I also discovered the current difficulties that Christians are facing in this Orient where they born and from where they are disappearing. Being Christian, a little adventurer and loving to associate photography and travel, “Mille et une Foi” appears in my mind.
Its goal would be to meet the Christian communities of Middle East, to understand their specificities and to give visibility to their daily lives. This trip will be along 40,000 km and across twenty countries of Orient. One year traveling. This adventure is named Mille et une Foi (« One thousand and One Faith » A reference to the story of the Arabian Nights, One Thousand and One Nights in French). But it refers also to the beautiful diversity of the Eastern Churches: several ways to live one Christianity. I needed a mean of transport both rustic and convenient for traveling long distance while staying longer in the communities. I made my choice: a car, model Renault 4L.
March-July 2012: The project is prepared from Lebanon. A Media file is written, a website is launched, “Mille et une Foi” become an association, with its official status a bank account (HSBC). Back in France, a Renault 4L car is found and fixed. An artist, Augustin Frison-Roche, customize the Habibimobile with Christians and oriental symbols.
However, the project has to face several difficulties during its preparation. Firstly, few people took it seriously: reaching Lebanon with an old car, going to countries such as Iraq, few trusted it. Then, it is not easy to find sponsors in France when a project uses the name of « Christians », even if their situation in Middle East has nothing to do with the case of Europe. Fortunately, some organizations supported the project, but it was not enough to fund such a project: the purchase and repair of the car (3000 dollars), bail for the Carnet de Passage en Douane required in some countries (6000 dollars), bivouac equipment, gas, visas. In spite of all, the adventure goes on.
From August 2012, here is the itinerary I followed (France – Lebanon – Turkey – Iraq – Georgia – Armenia: 22000 km)
Here is where I have to go (Azerbaijan – Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan – Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – UAE – Oman – Yemen – Djibouti – Ethiopia – Sudan – Egypt – Jordan – Jerusalem):
Follow the adventure
Firstly, you can follow me on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MilleEtUneFoi) and on my website (http://www.milleetunefoi . blogs.usj.edu.lb).
I am also making a photography report that will be exhibited in France and in Lebanon.
Then, I am taking daily notes in order to publish a book at the end of the trip.
THE BOOK OF ORIENT
When you are traveling, you receive a lot: people offer you tea, hospitality and it is not always easy to give back. So I brought with me a « Book of Orient » filled with prayers and intentions and testimonies by the people met on the road, in their own language (Arabic, but also Aramaic, Turkish …). This book will then be given to the representant of the Vatican in Jerusalem, Monseigneur Fouad Twal, Holy City of the three religions of the Bible and end point of the adventure.
To continue and finish the adventure, I need 4000 euros. These 4000 euros will fund the continuation and the end of the adventure:
2000 euros for gas
1000 euros to cross the seas (Caspian Sea – Persian Gulf – Red Sea)
500 euros for visa
500 euros for multiple fees ( car reparations, insurances …)
You can make donation on the bank account of Mille et une Foi (HSBC):
Or through my raisefunding page (in french, but it explains the same thing as above: http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/en/projects/mille-et-une-foi