Months after Lweibdeh tragedy, a mother fulfills her children’s dream

Dana - Alweibdeh Twitter
The storefront of ‘Khansa Luweibdeh’, a new shop in Jabal Luweibdeh owned by Abeer Rasheed. (Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — A new shop in Jabal Al-Lweibdeh welcomed in customers for the first time on Friday. As cold temperatures prevail across the Kingdom, the fashion boutique’s offerings — stylish sweaters and scarves—will help to keep the people of the hilltop community and its visitors warm. اضافة اعلان

But behind the cheery shop window displaying brightly colored knitwear and neat rows of soft fabric apparel lies a story of loss and pain —and of a bereaved mother’s courage to keep on.

Abeer Rasheed, 37, is the mother of three children: Mohammad, Ameera, and Malak. Sometimes, as she works in her new establishment, Abeer said she could almost hear the voices of her children.

But Rasheed’s children are no longer with her. On September 13 in Lweibdeh, a four-story residential building collapsed, trapping several people under tonnes of concrete.

Rescue teams worked round-the-clock for 84 hours in response to the event, with crews shifting heaps of rubble to unearth the injured and victims of the collapse. Sadly for Rasheed, her children were among the 14 victims who lost their lives in the tragedy.

A fitting titleTo honor the mother and her three children, people in the community began to call Rasheed Khansa Lweibdeh or "the Khansa of Lweibdeh”, a reference to a powerful poetess of early Islamic times.

Al-Khansa, a seventh-century tribeswoman living in the Arabian Peninsula, was also a woman acquainted with loss. She began composing elegiac poetry in honor of her two brothers who were killed in tribal skirmishes before the birth of Islam.

Later, as Islam began to spread, the poetess converted, and eventually lost four of her six children in the Battle of Qadisiyah during the Muslim conquest of Persia in 636 AD. Her short, poignant elegies for the dead garnered her great acclaim.
To honor the mother and her three children, people in the community began to call Rasheed Khansa  Lweibdeh  or "the Khansa of  Lweibdeh ”, a reference to a powerful poetess of early Islamic times.
The title was fitting for Rasheed as a person already familiar with great loss — a year and a half before the Lweibdeh tragedy, her husband, 47, was diagnosed with cancer and died suddenly.

Rasheed and her children had discussed opening a shop after her husband passed away. “My 16-year-old son Mohammad used to say to me, ‘Mama, you can open an online store that will ease your financial burdens,’” she said.

So, with the help of social media activists who spread calls for support, Rasheed began to work on realizing her son’s dream in a brick-and-mortar shop, which also came to be known as “Khansa Lweibdeh”.

Today, the storefront is located only a short distance from the location of the building collapse.

“The location of the shop was a source of anxiety for me, as (those helping me open the store)wanted it to be in the Lweibdeh area,” Rasheed explained. “But eventually I realized that the pain inside me would not go away, even if I moved away.”

‘A strong, patient mother’“Many people have supported me in an unbelievable way,” the shop owner said. She explained that community members used to bring her food as she prepared to open her business.

“Some of them used to stay by my side for long hours,” she said, adding that this type of solidarity “is not new to the Jordanian people, especially the people of Lweibdeh”.
“Eventually I realized that the pain inside me would not go away, even if I moved away.”
Ali Sarsour, a social activist who lives in the Lweibdeh area, said that Rasheed is “an example of a strong, patient mother”.

“She used to prepare and sell Kunafa in the bazaars, and she would deliver students to schools in order to support her children,” he recalled. “Her life before the tragedy was very difficult, but today it is even more difficult and complicated, as the feelings of pain and hope conflict.”

From time to time, Sarsour has seen the mother stop at the site of the building collapse where her former home once stood, “remembering her days with her children.”

Currently, Rasheed lives with her mother in the Qweismeh area.

“I have no choice but to face life and continue,” she said. “I only think about the present moment.”

For Rasheed, the opening of the new shop comes with mixed feelings. While she is thankful to honor her children by realizing their shared dream, she misses their presence. “On my first day in the shop,” she said on Friday, “I feel that my sons Malak, Ameera, and Mohammad are around me, working with me.”

“I can almost hear their breath.”

Read more Features

Jordan News