and living in the Syrian
1997 until the beginning of 2002 I lived in
was during one of these trips that our research assistant
the first visit, Robert, my husband who is hydrogeologist,
and me spent a lot of our time out in Little Waterfall. We developed a friendly
relationship with the villagers and in the weekends we liked to go out of the
busy city of
Mohammed Khayr checking out the tunnel The village from above Our trophy, a Byzantine oillamp !
The project of cleaning the water tunnel of Little Waterfall was developed whenMohammed Khayr, main character of the film, pointed out to me that he and hisfamily wanted to clean out the tunnel. But they did not have the financialmeans. His father was the one that first showed us the blocked airshafts.Afterwards we made a trans-sect through the tunnel and saw the problems thatwere evident.
After several meetings with the village elders and preparing the plan for cleaning, we translated their workplan in language that was suitable for international donors. And together with ICARDA, we managed to raise enough funds to actually help Mohammed Khayr andhis family to start up the renovation. When it was secured, the villagers appointed Mohammed Khayr to be the team leader.
we started to do the development work in the
The house itself was made of mudbrick and located next to a sheep bin, I had sometimes nice company ofsheepnoses peeking through the small airholes. The house was an old house, inLittle Waterfall when someone leaves or dies, people do not re-use the housebut leave it empty until the winds and rains take the mud and the house iseroded.
in this villagewithout electricity, running water or sanitation facilities it
meant going backto basics. My house was located on the slopes of the hills and
a bit far thewater outlet of the tunnel. This meant that every morning and
evening I had
Another issue was going tothe toilet. The villagers usually walk up in the valley or women go and sitwith the sheep in their bin. Sometimes, old houses are designated areas. So oneof my first tasks when I arrived was building a toilet for myself in an abandonedmudbrick house.
Having solved the basics, itwas a wonderful experience to have been able to share the daily lives of these families for so long. We usuallyshared morning and evening meals with neighbours and I learned a lot on how tomilk sheep, prepare butter, make bread in a traditional oven and simply sitwith the women and talk about life. Basically, the villagers became sort offamily and we will hopefully keep in touch for many more years.
making of Tunnel Vision took several years from the cleaning in the summer of
2000, through to thenational survey of these tunnels in