More than 100 km from the capital Tunis, specifically in the Haouaria region, known for its picturesque landscapes that combine the mountain with the sea and the forest, the village of Borj Al-Salihi or the village of silence - as many like to call it - is located because most of its residents are deaf and dumb and have invented their own sign language.
As soon as you enter the place, you feel a kind of familiarity despite the staring silence, except from the sound of the waves or the sounds of the seagulls and the windwheels surrounding it that do not stop working just like the residents of the village, and the only difference is that they make a sound while they work in silence, as it is a coastal village that most of its residents depend on Fishing is an essential livelihood.
Mawlid (right) and Hatem are preparing for work (Al Jazeera)
The sea is their only refuge
Mauldi Salehi and his friend wander between fishing nets and boats, checking the equipment before sailing, which they have been doing for years. Their small village does not have the lowest living facilities. Salehi tells Al Jazeera Net in sign language, "I am from a family of 7 members, all of whom are deaf and dumb. I learned carpentry and several other professions. But I did not find a job and resorted to fishing in order to provide for my family, as I am married and have a child.”
Mauldy and Hatem prepare the nets for fishing (Al-Jazeera)
Most of the villagers work in fishing with simple equipment of their own making. They say that the fishing profession hardly fills their lives, but the options for them are limited, as there are no factories, companies, facilities, or even services.
Mauldi tells Al Jazeera Net how he learned carpentry, but he suffered from unemployment for a long time, as no one occupied him because he was dumb, but despair did not know a way to his heart, and he dreamed of forming a family, so he met a girl from his village, he says that he waited 3 years to be able to build a house and marry her, and he He is happy with her and with his little girl, who said that the reason for his continuous work at sea was to provide her with milk and clothes.
The cruelty of geography and the injustice of history
Maulidi and his deaf and mute friends complain about the injustice of the successive authorities to them by not employing them despite their training in several fields, and they say that they are isolated between the sea and the mountains, and there is no answer to their repeated demands to improve their living conditions.
Naim al-Salihi, a civil society activist, expresses the suffering of the residents of his village with a sigh of relief, saying, "We have been oppressed by geography and history together. Our village is isolated between the sea and the mountains, and no one has paid attention to us despite successive governments. rights, bearing in mind that most families have members who have a disability, if not an entire family of deaf and mute people.”
Hatem and Mouldi fishing with simple equipment (Al-Jazeera)
The residents refuse to leave their small village that they are familiar with. They live as one family. Even the sign language that they invented is their own, and no one outside the village can understand it or decipher it. “We created our own language and we have several competencies in all fields, but our youth are marginalized and suffer from The unemployment".
Hatem (right) and Mouldi resting after a tiring day (Al Jazeera)
The secret of hearing loss and speech
The widespread loss of hearing and speech in the village of Burj al-Salihi is due to the consanguineous marriage that the residents practiced here years ago, according to civil society activist Omar al-Salihi, who said that they have reduced it in recent years to limit the birth of children who are deaf and dumb or have birth defects.
The residents of Burj Al-Salihi did not succumb to the harsh conditions, as they are like the rocks of their village or more resilient in the face of the harsh health and difficult economic conditions they have lived in for decades. However, they appeal to the concerned authorities to pay attention to families with low incomes, to employ the unemployed and to provide the most basic living facilities in the village.