Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aicha Chamelly. Below is a guest post from the family of Aicha Chamelly setting up a fund to support children’s programs for refugee children in her loving memory.
“The most beautiful word on the lips of humankind is the word ‘Mother,’ and the most beautiful call is the call of ‘My mother.’ It is a word full of hope and love, a sweet and kind word coming from the depths of the heart. The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness. She is the source of love, mercy, sympathy, and forgiveness….”
In Loving Memory: Tata Aicha
Aicha Chamelly transitioned from her earthly life in the early hours of May 11, 2020, surrounded by her family. Aicha, known as Tata to family and community across the world, will be remembered for the depths and purity of her heart.
Tata was the matriarch of the Chamelly family, and the beloved heart and soul of her community. She was a kind, wise, devoted friend, loving and popular with everyone, and adored by all who knew her.
This fund will honor Tata’s memory by supporting children’s programs for refugees in the Middle East.
Click Here to Honor Tata Aicha
Aicha was born on June 10, 1928, in Syria, in reef al-Shaam. She migrated to the United States by sea with her husband and settled in Michigan. They built a home and worked tirelessly to create a meaningful and loving community to raise their three children, Camelia Odeh, Kameel Chamelly, and Mary Chamelly.
She practiced traditions that brought people together and helped many newly arrived to the country who found her home as their first home. Aicha was the type of person who was awake before sunrise every day of the year, always eager to start her day, from preparing breakfast, going to work, lending a helping hand or tending to her beloved rose bushes and garden.
Aicha embodied cultural wisdom, shahameh—generosity of spirit and pride in her people, her homeland and her roots; her home was widely known as a sanctuary for all.
Aicha lived and died with the strength and resilience of all Arab mothers and grandmothers.
She exemplified the struggle of our people in the diaspora, and raised a beautiful family with a deep commitment to education and social justice.
Aicha’s deepest pride and joy were her seven grandchildren, the Noor of her life, Leena, Ferris, Ilana, Alexandria, Michael, Jenna, and William. Through them she developed her second most precious role as Tata. Aicha expressed love to her grandchildren by teaching them the importance of education, family, community, to carry themselves with dignity and take pride in who they are and where they’re from. She made each of her grandchildren feel as if they were the center of her world.
Aicha always served a colorful sofra, her infamous kitchen table a space for communion and fellowship for all, where stories, songs, and delectable waraq dawali and kubbeh were shared. She went to every community event and march, never missed a birthday or graduation, called each loved one every single day, she was present for every moment––big and little. She consistently lent a tender-hearted ear, an understanding shoulder, and sage advice.
Aicha’s family and community carry her spirit forward with pride and gratitude, and in awe of her courage and resilience.
Our Tatas are our original cultural institutions. Through them we learn what it means to be in the world and give to the world.
We hope that through the In Loving Memory of Tata Aicha Fund we can simultaneously uplift the spirit of our elders—our original teachers—and the institutions that carry out their values.