The current situation in Lebanon...
Article by Sr Micheline Lattouf,
Province of Lebanon/Syria.
For years, Lebanon has been in crisis at all levels. However, since the explosion of August 4, 2020, the socio-economic situation has been in catastrophic decline. Everyone hoped that the revolution would path the way for positive change; yet, unfortunately, the situation is only going from bad to worse: garbage is piling up, power cuts last for 22 hours a day, service stations have long queues, "hundreds" of healthcare products are unavailable, hospitals have shut entire wings for lack of medical products and can no longer receive patients, and hundreds of doctors have fled the country to work elsewhere.
Lebanon is undergoing an unprecedented crisis with long queues in front of service stations.
The education system has been equally affected. At the end of an academic year taught online, schools are unsure if they will be able to open next year, given they can no longer pay their teachers. In turn, the teachers follow the doctors to countries where they are welcome, where their dignity is respected, and their abilities are valued.
Yes, the country is experiencing an unprecedented crisis: fuel prices have exploded, more than 30% on average, an increase expected to plunge the people even further into poverty, injustice, and endless humiliation. According to the World Bank, this is one of the worst economic crises in the world since 1850. Is famine next? Everyone is afraid of this, and those who can organize themselves come to the aid of their fellow citizens.
Amid this tragedy and in solidarity with all people of goodwill, could we not light a candle of hope? How can we witness so much suffering without somehow helping and serving those slaughtered like sheep without a shepherd? How can we fail to hear the voice of a tender and merciful God calling us to accompany our sisters and brothers to alleviate their suffering? This is the way of the Good Shepherd, who guides us and shows us the path to follow: "I have seen the misery of my people… I know how much they are suffering! Now go, I am sending you…" (Exodus 3).
God comes close to us and accompanies us on the path where he sends us. He precedes us, and through us, he joins his people. Therefore, full of hope, we embarked on multiple projects to be in solidarity with those who are marginalized: humanitarian aid, health care, reconstruction of houses destroyed by the explosion, medical assistance, not to mention all the human and psychological support offered during our visits which we carried out with the laity who accompanied us.
Here we share the testimony of a young woman who accompanied us in one of the projects:
"I was a non-believer until August 4, when everything changed for me. I began to take to the streets of Beirut to help clean up the city, to offer temporary accommodation in tents to homeless families, and later visit them in their rubbled surroundings. I began to discover the gravity of the human misery into which families had been plunged long before the explosion. I realized that the explosion "stripped bare" those who had been hiding with dignity in their misery. During the visits, I saw the despair in which the families welcomed us with grieving eyes brimming with sadness. Yet, after our visit and the human concern we showed them, something was transformed. A glimmer of life began to germinate. I realized that the most important thing is to restore the person's trust in themself and in God. I learned to let go of my prejudices and look at the depth of the person and not just how they appear. I met the Lord in every person I visited, and it's a great grace in my life. I feel deeply touched because I saw how each encounter was an encounter with God; I touched him. This gives me great inner hope and joy".