In the last six months, Lebanon has faced several shocks.
In October, protests over the deteriorating economic situation gripped the country. Later, the Lebanese banks imposed controls on access to US dollars and the Lebanese Pounds lost value against the US Dollar. Now, Lebanon faces COVID-19; the unwelcome global guest.
Hana and her family
Hana’s husband left her and their three children two years ago. He married another woman and sorted out a new life. Sixteen-year-old Jamal*, Hana’s oldest son, lives and studies for free at an orphanage school, visiting his family every three weeks. He wants to study so he can help his mother and siblings live a better life. Ali*, 9, couldn’t join Jamal at school since he missed years out of school and couldn’t learn to read and write. Rama*, the youngest, is now two years old.
“Thank God,” Hana said as she talks to me, “We are a sheltered family, we still have our house, some food and water, and the peace deep in the heart that God sees us and looks after us.”
Hana earns some extra money by helping her neighbours clean their houses. It’s enough to buy the essentials like bread and rice.
Hana checking what’s inside the kit
Getting ready to face a new challenge: COVID-19
“When people started talking about COVID in March, I asked Jamal to come back home, immediately. I went to the market, and with the little money I had, I was able to buy two main things, a detergent bottle and soap. I got back home, cleaned the house and closed the door. It was so confusing; what’s next? I asked myself, what is going to happen?” She says. “We heard a lot about COVID-19 and what matters most was to stay at home, and so we did.”
“Usually, there are several lovely faces that I meet from day to day. Some bring in food and groceries, milk and diapers for Rama and some bring clothes for the kids. Do you know what I enjoy most when I see them? it is not the food – even though we really need it – it is the feeling that someone really cares, someone comes to talk to us and leave some hope.”
Medair volunteer workers move the hygiene kits from the warehouse to the trucks
Why we need to be there
“Look at you guys. You chose to leave your houses. Put on these masks and gloves. Travel all the way to meet us, talk to us, and help us understand what this virus is. Believe me, it is not the soap that you bring that matters the most, it is you, your presence.”
“My kids may not grow in an optimal family, but when they see you, when they see caring hearts and souls, they will grow to mirror this kindness.”
Hana’s family was one of the 200 families that met our teams last week. Medair partnered with the Lebanese Organisation for Studies and Training, to raise awareness on COVID and distribute hygiene supplies. This activity was possible thanks to the financial assistance of the European union through the European Union Regional Trust Fund ‘MADAD’.
Our work with the European Union helped show solidarity and bring support to thousands of families who are going through a very difficult time.
*Names have been changed.