“Shady!”. Hush. “Shaady!”. We shout again; silence again.
Then suddenly he appears, with the phone on one side and with a pack of towels and blankets under his other arm. His name is Shady Shair, 29, the handyman at Guesthouse Sabastiya. We are in Samaria, in the place where there is the tomb of John the Baptist.
“Coming” he says while rushing in a room. We hear him argue on the phone for a few minutes before he appears again. Then he comes towards us smiling and greets us warmly. Shady is always smiling, he never complains.
After that he disappears again and comes back with Arabic coffee and some wonderful pistachio cookies prepared by the women in the town. Finally he sits. It’s not easy to sit with Shady Shair for more than five minutes: he is always in a hurry. “This is my home,” he says, “I treat this place like my house, trying to keep everything as tidier as possible and to welcome everyone in the best way … But I usually say that this is my home, mainly because I spend more time here than at home: between 9 and 12 hours! ”
Shady here really takes care of everything: he cleans the rooms, he works in the Guesthouse shop, keeps reservations, cleans the garden,welcomes visitors and organizes their stay in Sabastiya. “I must always be available. When someone comes to visit, I am the first contact … Then I call the restaurant, I organize the visits …”. In short, Shady is in charge of everything. But he never complains.
“I started working with the Mosaic Centre and the Association pro Terra Sancta in 2011” he explains “since then I remained because this job was a unique opportunity for me.” Thanks to this work, in fact Shady speaks good English, he learned how to run a guesthouse and has the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.
“Very few knew about the existence of this town until a few years ago. To learn a method of work in a place like Sabastiya is a unique opportunity. I have to thank people like Osama [director of the Mosaic Centre ed ] or Carla, ATS pro Terra Sancta that gave me this opportunity … ” For this reason Shady is happy to participate to this project. This is why he runs here and there coordinating everything. “I hope that the whole town will soon become as nice and clean as this Guesthouse … A lot of locals already come to visit this place,because it’s beautiful!“.
After fifteen minutes our time is up. In fact, the phone rings again. He answers immediately: “Hello? Yes, it’s me, Shady. A room for three? Sure, and for the lunch? … “. He gets up, quickly cleans up the table and then disappears again, running. He runs to build that corner of beauty, in a place where no one expected it anymore.
The Sabastiya Guesthouse is an initiative by the Mosaic Centre Jericho and the Association pro Terra Sancta, and part of a wider project Sabastiya, hospitality and tourism. The project aims at creating a local sustainable economy in the small town through the involvement of young people, women and disables. The project is supported by FAI – Fondation Assistance Internationale of Lugano.