Zoumorrod Jarboue, 49, was born and raised in Syria in a family of six children. Then, when she was 11 years old, her mother died.
“I love my father, and he took great care of me. When he remarried, his new wife was also very fond of me.”
Zoumorrod left Syria when she was 20 years old and lived with her husband in Libya. They have four children – two girls and two boys – who were all born in Libya. Then, when her eldest daughter married and came to live in Malta, Zoumorrod – a name which in Syrian means ‘precious stones from the sea’ – joined her. Her other children all attended the Libyan school in Ta’ Giorni.
Zoumorrod, who is now a grandmother, has been living in Malta since 2000.
“Communicating was rather difficult at first,” says Zoumorrod, who since then has learned to understand Maltese and tries to speak it as much as possible. “But my daughters and my friend Sanaa helped me a lot.”
Sanaa El-Nahhal, a Palestinian woman who has been living in Malta for more than two decades, is Zoumorrod’s closest friend.
“We are like sisters,” says Sanaa, who teaches Arabic and is also President of the Arabic Culture Information Society.
“Zoumorrod has something in her which makes people love her – we first met 11 years ago, and the moment I met her, I loved her. We’re always together – even when I was consulting for the film World War Z on Arabic costumes and culture, Zoumorrod was with me and worked as an extra on the film. She even met Brad Pitt.
“When Zoumorrod first came to Malta, people couldn’t understand her – they didn’t even know where Syria was. I went through the same situation and would have to explain to people where Palestine is. But Zoumorrod’s eldest daughter, who was already living in Malta, helped her a lot and nowadays, Zoumorrod feels at home and has a lot of Maltese friends.”
Syrian salad – Cold comfort for a hot day.
Ingredients: Tomatoes; Onion; Parsley; Cucumber; Lemon; Peppers; Oil; Salt and pepper to taste; Bread, toasted.
Method: Start off by chopping the parsley, cucumber, tomato, peppers and onion. Mix everything together. Then add a squeeze of lemon, salt, pepper and oil. Finally, add the toasted bread, mix well and serve.
Falafel – A quick, tasty snack.
Ingredients: Chickpeas; Onion; Parsley; Garlic; Black pepper; Hararat; Cumin; Salt; Bicarbonate of soda.
Method: Mince everything together. Add the spices and form the mix into patties. Deep-fry the patties.
This interview was included in the publication Interact - a portrait of third-country nationals in Malta, published as part of the media interact project (If 2010 02) and distributed with The Times. They are based on the tv programme Minn Lenti Interkulturali, produced/presented by Maria Muscat (PBS), and directed/edited by Godfrey Smith (PBS) and broadcast on Education22/Tvm2 and Tvm between January and March, 2012 and on Tvm between april and june, 2012. The project is co-financed through the European fund for the integration of third-country nationals. The project is led by SOS malta, in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Services and the Institute of Maltese Journalists.