Tamara Lalli brings an anecdote by the Santiago del Estero-born percussionist Domingo Cura. The story goes that on Sundays the ground in the Argentine Northern province moves down because Syrian women are cooking the traditional Middle East Kibbe dish as they rhythmically pound the meat and wheat using their pestles and mortars.
But the homeland Tamara was born in and left when she was 11 years old is changing forcing thousands to flee across its borders and seek refuge in the Southern part of the world as rebel groups continue to defy the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
New immigration: The exodus
Only in the past two years Argentina has received more than 300 Syrian families most of them staying in Buenos Aires. Although visa procedures might turn “bureaucratic”, the South American country is among the few granting assistance to those swelling in the list of this 21st century exodus. “In Europe this is impossible”, Tamara affirms and adds that Arab neighboring countries have long decided to reject entry to her countrymen.
The Syrian-Lebanese community in Argentina accounts actually for around10 percent of the country’s 40-million population.
Tamara Lalli is the daughter of Toufic, a Syrian-Lebanese who married Neife, an Argentinean descendant from Syrians. She was born in Yabrud located 80 km north of the capital Damascus. She has two sisters. A non-practicing Muslim, she married an Argentine Christian and allowed her two daughters to choose their own religion. “One is a Christian, the other one is still thinking about it”, Tamara says.
Clearly, this women assimilated; and so did her daughters, one of whom has already chosen Christianity.