LEBANON ON THE BRINK: HELP DESTITUTE CHRISTIANS TODAY
“We are facing an unprecedented crisis in our history, and the worst is coming!” wrote a Lebanese church leader to Barnabas Fund on Friday (24th July). He begged Barnabas Fund to help the most vulnerable – ordinary Christians like Tony and Zozo.
Two ordinary Lebanese Christian families … facing disaster
Tony’s parents focus their lives on caring for their disabled teenage son. Tony loves going with his parents to their local church, high up on Mount Lebanon, where his parents are very involved. It is among the loving faithful church community that Tony finds peace and acceptance. Tony’s father, the family breadwinner, lost his job due to the collapsing economy and the Covid-19 lockdown. Now the family doesn’t know how to pay for rent, electricity or even food, let alone Tony’s medicine, therapy or special schooling.
Zozo lives down on the coast, in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, with her three brothers. Now in her sixties, her main aim in life is to support her family – somehow. One of her brothers is diabetic and would die without insulin, while Zozo herself needs medical treatment for kidney failure. Two of her brothers have lost their jobs due to the economic crisis. So far Zozo has managed to continue working at a Christian school, where she cleans and helps in the kitchen. But what are her wages now worth?
Lebanon in meltdown
Lebanon is plunged in an economic catastrophe, made even worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. The middle classes have become poor, and the poor have become destitute. The Lebanese pound has lost 80% of its value since October, driving up prices in a country dependent on imports.
On 30 June the government reduced the subsidies it normally provides for bread, the staple food of Lebanon. Bread prices shot up immediately by more than 30%, and certain bakers stopped producing anything rather than sell bread at a loss. With traditional Lebanese protein sources such as chickpeas, beans and lentils now unaffordable for many, what will people do if they cannot even buy bread?
A land of darkness and hunger
In this context of hyperinflation, some people have given up using money. Instead they barter goods online. One mother offered a dress in exchange for baby milk and nappies. Another asked for something to eat, offering in return some of her five-year-old daughter’s clothes. A third mother offered decorative trays to anyone who could give a physiotherapy session to her friend’s child with cerebral palsy. Some mothers are feeding their babies with sugar dissolved in water, instead of milk, or making nappies out of rags and plastic bags.
Electricity is cut off for up to 20 hours out of 24, even in the capital, and some smaller places are in complete darkness, without even private generators functioning.
As desperation grows, and children cry with hunger, there is growing social unrest and crime. “We have many social problems and collapse of family lives … and of despair dominating and that hits the faithful community,” wrote the Lebanese church leader. Sectarian parties are taking law and order into their own homes, as in the dark and dreadful days of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
Will you come to the aid our brothers and sisters in Lebanon?
Just £20 ($25; €22) would help a family with food to survive another month.
Please give now.