The first mission in Lebanon after the start of COVID and after the explosion at the port of Beirut. We know that the situation we will find in Lebanon is difficult. The World Bank estimates that Lebanon is in the top 3 of the worst economic crises since 1850. Since 2018, the country has experienced a recession that has wiped out 40% of per capita income. Inflation stands at 90% and food prices have risen by over 220%: 50% of Lebanese live in poverty and the health system is in collapse. There is no fuel and this means contingent electricity.
During the 20 days that we will spend in Lebanon visiting people in various refugee camps and monasteries, we will be witnesses of the difficulties that the population is experiencing. We will deal with the lack of petrol and the shortage of electricity; some evenings we will have dinner in the dark and we will visit patients in the light of mobile phones that we will recharge with extreme difficulty.
Our mission begins with a visit to Saadnayel, alMarj, and Rahma Camp in Bekaaaa Zahle.
The morning is dedicated to the children in the schools annexed to the refugee camps (almost all Syrian); in the afternoon we dedicate ourselves mainly to the Lebanese families who come in large numbers to the Jasu el Fadi monastery.
On 19 September we move to the Biblos area and in Annayah we will visit as a team with the colleague of the “La Sapienza” University, who arrived in Lebanon for the screening of the cervical field. As a last step, the Akkar region awaits us, where the situation of poverty is even more marked. We will visit mainly Syrians in refugee camps, but also Lebanese, preparing our future intervention also among the Lebanese population. Here we will touch the impossibility of finding drugs despite having the money for the purchase because pharmacies do not have them. We visit in precarious conditions, with a scorching heat: the masks that torment us protecting us from COVID, also shelter us from the numerous flies. We visit poorly fed and pale children with growth deficiency, cough and fever. They often approach us with boxes of drugs they need; sometimes, rummaging, we find similar but, for the most part, the frustration in having to deny life-saving products is high.
Those were hard days both physically and emotionally. The news, which arrived a few days ago, has repaid us that a patient suffering from a serious pathology was hospitalized and then discharged thanks to our interest and now enjoys apparent good health. A special thanks goes to Father Marun, and to his association “Together”, who endured and supported us throughout the journey, to Father Michel of the Lebanese Caritas who, with his collaborators, allowed us to deal with more serious cases and to Father Tannous who hosted us in his convent and made us feel at home. Last, but not least, to our driver Firaz who patiently, despite the lack of fuel, accompanied us safely, always present with his protective eye on us.