Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Character notes for "Watching The Water Department"

These are the character notes for "Watching The Water Department."


Barnum Hamoud -- He has tinted skin, dark brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. His heritage is Syrian. He is learning Arabic and French. He is 1 year old. He is the son of Rafiqa. She grew up in Aleppo, where her mother worked as a maid for rich families. When Rafiqa got old enough, she began to help her mother and also work as a babysitter, learning French from listening to the rich people speak it. At 14, she developed a crush on her employer, Gamal Mostafa, and they had a mutually enjoyable affair. Rafiqa was also friends with his wife Qamar, who no longer desired sex. When Rafiqa got pregnant, Gamal offered to smuggle her out of the country. Eventually Rafiqa and her son Barnum arrived in America where they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Now Barnum attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff there. He is chubby and cheerful. He eats everything in sight, though, because food hasn't always been available consistently.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cheerful
Poor (-2) Always Hungry

Rafiqa Hamoud -- She has tinted skin, honey brown eyes, and long straight brown hair. Her heritage is Syrian. She speaks Arabic and French. She is 16 years old. She is the mother of Barnum. Rafiqa grew up in Aleppo, where her mother worked as a maid for rich families. When Rafiqa got old enough, she began to help her mother and also work as a babysitter, learning French from listening to the rich people speak it. At 14, she developed a crush on her employer, Gamal Mostafa, and they had a mutually enjoyable affair. Rafiqa was also friends with his wife Qamar, who no longer desired sex. When Rafiqa got pregnant, Gamal offered to smuggle her out of the country. Eventually Rafiqa and her son Barnum arrived in America where they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Kind and gentle, she makes a good mother, and hopes to find work in childcare or housekeeping again. However, a life of frequent deprivation has made her impulsive in terms of grabbing whatever she can get while it's available, without thinking about the consequences.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gentle, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Kindness, Good (+2) Maid, Good (+2) Mother
Poor (-2) Impulsive

French and English are used in educated Syrian circles, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus. Of the two, English is more popular.

In Syria the minimum standard age for marriage is 18 for males and 17 for females. If underage, they can petition for marriage if their parents consent and they are at least 15 (males) and 13 (females). A judge can also approve marriage for a girl under 13 if she is pregnant and that is customarily granted.
A man owes a dowry to the woman he marries. This typically divides into an immediate dowry to be paid with the wedding contract, and a delayed dowry to be paid in case of divorce or the husband's death.
Islamic law permits a man to have up to four wives. While rare in local-Syria before the war, polygamy has become much more common in recent years due to a shortage of men. It was fairly common in Terramagne-Syria even before the war.
So Gamal and Rafiqa could have simply gotten married, and had even begun to discuss the possibility, but the war made everything awful and complicated. Then Rafiqa got pregnant, making their situation even more complicated. Qamar wouldn't leave Aleppo, and Gamal wouldn't leave Qamar. So instead he offered to pay for Rafiqa's escape, which worked. That also related to a husband's obligation to support his wife in Islamic law, which is more or less how Gamal saw Rafiqa despite the lack of appropriate paperwork. She resents the fact that everyone assumes she was raped just because that happened to so many other Syrian women.


Farid Samaan -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. His heritage is Syrian. He speaks Arabic and French. He is 30 years old. He is the father of Pari. Farid used to work as a translator in Aleppo. His family fled the Syrian war, but he and Pari are the only survivors. His wife and sons all died in the escape; his parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews had died even before that. Farid has a knack for slipping away unnoticed, which helped keep him and his daughter alive as they escaped. They made it to America and settled in Rutledge, Vermont.
Qualities: Good (+2) Elusive, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Father, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Translator
Poor (-2) Traumatic Grief

French and English are used in educated Syrian circles, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus. Of the two, English is more popular.


Pari Samaan -- She has dark peach skin, gray-green eyes with a distinct tilt, and long curly brown hair that rusts in the sun. She is tiny and slender with a heart-shaped face and ears that almost come to a point. She is Syrian by birth, but she is clearly of mixed heritage. She speaks Arabic and French. She is 7 years old. Pari is the daughter of Farid. Their family fled the Syrian war, but she and her father are the only survivors. Her mother and brothers all died in the escape; her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins had died even before that. They made it to America and settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Now Pari attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff there.
Qualities: Good (+2) Fey, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Family Losses


Tariq Al Numan -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. His heritage is Syrian. He speaks Arabic and French. He is 40 years old. His first wife, Euphémie, was a French journalist. They had six children, of whom three daughters remain: Aliénor (9), Barbe (8), and Francine (6). Tariq remarried to a woman, Hasina, with one surviving son, Hassan (5). Hasina is pregnant again. The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. After losing so many people, Tariq is desperately needy and craves attention from his family. He used to work as a French teacher in Aleppo. He would like to teach again in America, but doesn't feel that he can spend so much time away from his family.
Qualities: Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Family Man, Good (+2) French Teacher, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Survival
Poor (-2) Needs Attention

Francine Al Numan -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long curly red hair. She is 6 years old. Her heritage is French and Syrian. She speaks Arabic and French. She is the daughter of Tariq and his first wife Euphémie. She has two surviving sisters, Aliénor (9) and Barbe (8). Her father remarried, giving Francine a stepmother, Hasina, and a stepbrother, Hassan (5). The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. Shy and quiet, Francine doesn't make trouble. However, her experiences have left her passive, used to obeying adults for survival and unable to believe that her choices can make a difference. Her parents encourage this because it makes life safer and easier. Currently she attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Quiet
Poor (-2) Passive

Hassan Al Numan -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He is 5 years old. His heritage is Syrian. He speaks Arabic and French. Hassan is the son of Abitayeh and Hasina, the only survivor of their children. After losing most of her first family, Hasina remarried, so now Hassan has a stepfather, Tariq; and three stepsisters: Aliénor (9), Barbe (8), and Francine (6). The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. Hassan's experiences have left him resistant to touch in a family where everyone else is clinging to each other for comfort, so he tends to scrunch into himself. Other times he skitters away from people. This makes his parents frantic. Hassan likes art. Currently he attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Artist, Good (+2) Intrapersonal Intelligence
Poor (-2) Touch Aversion

Aliénor Al Numan -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy red hair. Her heritage is French and Syrian. She speaks Arabic and French. She is 9 years old. Aliénor is the daughter of Tariq and his first wife Euphémie. She has two surviving sisters, Barbe (8) and Francine (6). Her father remarried, giving Aliénor a stepmother, Hasina, and a stepbrother, Hassan (5). The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. Helpful and peaceful by nature, Aliénor detests conflict and just wants people to get along. She has little grasp of childhood and tends to mother her younger siblings -- a habit that her parents encourage because maturity aids survival. Currently she attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Helpful, Good (+2) Peacemaker
Poor (-2) Adultification

Barbe Al Numan -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy red hair. Her heritage is French and Syrian. She speaks Arabic and French. She is 8 years old. Barbe is the daughter of Tariq and his first wife Euphémie. She has two surviving sisters, Aliénor (9) and Francine (6). Her father remarried, giving Barbe a stepmother, Hasina, and a stepbrother, Hassan (5). The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. Losing so much of her family has left Barbe clingy and desperate for affection -- a habit her parents encourage because it complements their damage. Currently she attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Loving
Poor (-2) Clingy

Hasina Al Numan -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy brown hair. Her heritage is Syrian. She speaks English and French. She is 30 years old. Hasina provided childcare for Francophone families in Aleppo. After losing her first husband Abitayeh and all but one of their children in a bombing, she became hypervigilant, rarely letting Hassan out of her sight. She remarried to Tariq and gained three stepdaughters: Aliénor (9), Barbe (8), and Francine (6). She is pregnant again. The new family left Syria and eventually wound up in Rutledge, Vermont. Hasina expects that she can easily find work in childcare there ... if she can take her eyes off her own children long enough to watch someone else's. She likes gardening, although the plants are totally different in Vermont.
Qualities: Good (+2) Childcare, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Gardener, Good (+2) Patience
Poor (-2) Hypervigilant

Avrachan Olikara -- He has ruddy skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair with a mustache and beard. He is tall and slim. He wears glasses. His heritage is Syrian and Greek. He speaks Arabic and French. Avrachan is 30 years old. He is the husband of Rahelamma, father of Raca and Itty. They belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. When the Battle of Aleppo broke out in 2012, Avrachan used his political connections to evacuate his family to safety in Greece. His parents and brothers chose to stay there, while Avrachan and his immediate family moved on to America. Eventually they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. In Aleppo, Avrachan worked as a diplomat. He has since given up on that career and hopes to find a new one in America. He feels discouraged by all the conflict, and struggles to find motivation.
Qualities: Good (+2) Christian, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Negotiation, Good (+2) Peacemaker, Good (+2) Tall
Poor (-2) Discouraged

Renewed fighting (June–October 2012)
Main articles: Timeline of the Syrian Civil War (May–August 2012), Timeline of the Syrian Civil War (May–August 2012), and Timeline of the Syrian Civil War (September–December 2012)
Further information: Battle of Damascus (2012), Battle of Aleppo (2012–present), and Rif Dimashq offensive (August–October 2012)


Avraham "Itty" Olikara -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He is 3 years old. He is the son of Avrachan and Rahelamma, younger brother of Raca. They belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. When the Battle of Aleppo broke out in 2012, Avrachan used his diplomatic connections to evacuate his family to safety in Greece. His parents and brothers chose to stay there, while Avrachan and his immediate family moved on to America. Eventually they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Itty can happily play by himself for hours, but has difficulty relating to other people. Currently he attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Occupying Himself
Poor (-2) Withdrawn

Rahelamma Olikara -- She has pinkish-fair skin, dark blue eyes, and long curly chestnut hair. She speaks Arabic, French, Koine Greek, and Latin. She is 27 years old. She is the wife of Avrachan, mother of Itty and Raca. They belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. When the Battle of Aleppo broke out in 2012, Avrachan used his diplomatic connections to evacuate his family to safety in Greece. His parents and brothers chose to stay there, while Avrachan and his immediate family moved on to America. Eventually they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Rahelamma is a historian, previously focused on French and Syrian history. Now she is fascinated with Vermont and American history, wanting to learn all about them. She is studying English just as avidly, not at all discouraged by being terrible at it. Her experiences have left her reckless and hyper, using constant activity to avoid thinking about painful topics.
Qualities: Good (+2) Christian, Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Historian, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Understanding People
Poor (-2) Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!

Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
Language Koine Greek, Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish


Raca Olikara -- She has pale skin, brown eyes, and short curly auburn hair. She is 5 years old. She is the daughter of Avrachan and Rahelamma, older sister of Itty. They belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. When the Battle of Aleppo broke out in 2012, Avrachan used his diplomatic connections to evacuate his family to safety in Greece. His parents and brothers chose to stay there, while Avrachan and his immediate family moved on to America. Eventually they settled in Rutledge, Vermont. Raca is outgoing and energetic, happy to meet new people. She has trouble calming down, though, and constantly fidgets with her hands. Currently she attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Outgoing
Poor (-2) Restless

Daud Ismail -- He has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. His ears stick out from his head. His heritage is Syrian. He speaks Arabic and French. He is 17 years old. He is the son of Gamar and Yaminah, older brother of Bassam. His 15-year-old sister Maana was kidnapped by terrorists and nobody knows what happened to her. After that, the family decided to flee Syria. When their ship capsized, the parents and the two oldest sons survived, but the youngest four children all drowned. Eventually they made their way to Rutledge, Vermont. Despite everything, Daud remains hopeful about the future, and of his family, he is the most determined to find Maana again. He misses her desperately, and sometimes it distracts him from the present. He has an easier time letting go of the ones who died. Currently he attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Existential Intelligence, Good (+2) Hopeful, Good (+2) Tall
Poor (-2) Misses Maana

Yaminah Ismail -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy brown hair. Her heritage is Syrian. She speaks Arabic, Aramaic, French, Greek, Kurdish, Latin, and Turkish. She is 42 years old. She is the wife of Gamar, mother of Daud and Bassam. Her 15-year-old daughter Maana was kidnapped by terrorists and nobody knows what happened to her. After that, the family decided to flee Syria. When their ship capsized, the parents and the two oldest sons survived, but the youngest four children all drowned. Eventually they made their way to Rutledge, Vermont. In Aleppo, Yaminah worked as a translator of old or illegible manuscripts. She hopes to find similar employment in America. She excels at detailed work, but does poorly on a larger scale. She can easily make friends with other intellectuals.
Qualities: Good (+2) Attention to Detail, Good (+2) Intellectual Friends, Good (+2) Linguistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Translator, Good (+2) Vision
Poor (-2) Can't See the Forest for the Trees

Gamar Ismail -- He has tinted skin and brown eyes. His short brown hair is almost gone on top, still dark in the mustache but starting to gray in the beard. He is 48 years old. He is the husband of Yaminah, father of Daud and Bassam. His 15-year-old daughter Maana was kidnapped by terrorists and nobody knows what happened to her. After that, the family decided to flee Syria. When their ship capsized, the parents and the two oldest sons survived, but the youngest four children all drowned. Eventually they made their way to Rutledge, Vermont. In Aleppo, Gamar worked as a lawyer. He doesn't like the idea of spending many years in law school to resume in America, so he's exploring other possibilities in related work. His job has also left him with a win-lose perspective on everything, unable to compromise or collaborate effectively.
Qualities: Good (+2) Affectionate, Good (+2) Father, Good (+2) Lawyer, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Win-Lose Perspective

Bassam Ismail -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He is 13 years old. He is the son of Gamar and Yaminah, older brother of Bassam. His 15-year-old sister Maana was kidnapped by terrorists and nobody knows what happened to her. After that, the family decided to flee Syria. When their ship capsized, the parents and the two oldest sons survived, but the youngest four children all drowned. Eventually they made their way to Rutledge, Vermont. Cheerful and energetic, Bassam loves sports. He does badly in school due to all the disruptions and his inability to sit still. Currently he attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Cheerful
Poor (-2) Academics

Abductions are common in war-torn Syria, with at least 2,000-3,000 people missing between March 2011-September 2012.


Heloise Quevillon -- She has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight hair of light brown that bleaches blonde in the sun. She is short and chunky. She is 7 years old. Heloise is the daughter of Yann and Margot, older sister of Alaire, Jolie, and Frery. They speak English and New England French. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Heloise is sturdy but slow. She enjoys art. She attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff with her siblings.
Qualities: Good (+2) Artist, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Sturdy
Poor (-2) Slow

Alaire Quevillon -- He has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and short straight brown hair. He is 6 years old. He is the son of Yann and Margot, younger brother of Heloise, older brother of Jolie and Frery. They speak English and New England French. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Alaire is funny and cheerful. He tends to be flighty, though, and has trouble taking anything seriously. He attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff with his siblings.
Qualities: Good (+2) Sense of Humor
Poor (-2) Frivolous

Frery Quevillon -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short straight brown hair. He is 2 years old. He is the son of Yann and Margot, younger brother of Heloise, Alaire, and Jolie. They speak English and New England French. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Frery loves attention. He is happy and sweet, until someone puts him down, and then he screams his head off. He attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff with his siblings.
Qualities: Good (+2) Loves Attention
Poor (-2) Screams When Alone

Jolie Quevillon -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long curly hair of light brown that bleaches blonde in the sun. She is 4 years old. Jolie is the daughter of Yann and Margot, younger sister of Heloise and Alaire, older sister of. They speak English and New England French. They live in Rutledge, Vermont. Jolie is so excited to be a big sister, and she adores her baby brother Frery. Fiercely independent, she wants to do everything herself, but isn't old enough to do it very well yet. She attends Reflétant l’école Cécile de Brunhoff with her siblings.
Qualities: Good (+2) Big Sister, Good (+2) Generous
Poor (-2) I'll Do It Myself!

Amadou Joof -- He has sorrel skin, black eyes, and nappy black hair buzzed short. He is slender with a broad nose and thick lips. He is 17 years old. Amadou Joof is a Senegalese character on The Water Department television show who speaks Français populaire africain ("Popular African French"). He is concerned with racial equality, African culture and wildlife, college preparation, and African varieties of French. He is played by Senegalese actor Babacar Diop.

Patrice LaPoint -- She has fair skin, hazel eyes, and long straight brown hair usually pulled back in a bun. She is 36 years old. Patrice LaPoint is a character on The Water Department who speaks New England French. She works for the Alliance Française of the Lake Champlain Region. She is played by Darcie Gaudette, an actress from Burlington, Vermont.


The Alliance Française of the Lake Champlain Region (AFLCR) is based in Burlington, Vermont and raises awareness of Francophone culture.

Middlebury College Department of French and Francophone Studies
The French Department offers a wide range of courses in French and francophone language and literature, contemporary France, cinema, and more. All courses are taught entirely in French.
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