Don’t Forget the People of Lebanon
Today is a bad day for me. I just learned that one of our wonderful staff members in Beirut is leaving us. She has gotten her visa to immigrate to Canada, so she has a chance at a better life. What can I say, but to wish her the best? Who can blame her for pursuing the opportunity to grow and have a bright future?
This is one of the things that worries me the most. Lebanon is losing many of its smartest and most talented people. And, for what?
The people of this country are caught in the middle of man-made calamity. We are rich in resources, both natural and human. We have everything we need to be a great and prospering country with a beautiful future. Bad governance and corruption, however, have brought us to an untenable state.
We always have had a big gulf between the haves and have-nots in Lebanon. But things have gotten worse. If you have access to dollars, you are one of the ‘haves’ and you are not subject to the freefall of the lira. You can still pay for things at the old prices. But if you rely on lira, the money is basically useless.
To give an example: one kilo (2.2 lbs) of meat is equal to 125,000 lira. A normal wage for someone just entering the labor market is around 1 million lira. So one kilo of meat is more than 10% of a person’s monthly salary!
And everyone in the country is feeling the pain of petrol and medicine shortages.
Access to electricity has gotten so bad that, if you don’t have a generator, you only have two hours of electricity a day. People are clamoring for petrol, but the lines to get it are incredibly long. Most people just have to make do with little to no electricity and have to get around on foot, since we don’t have a public transportation system.
As for medicines and the healthcare system, the situation is very sad. We used to brag in Lebanon about our healthcare system, saying it is the best in the Middle East. We had great doctors and nurses, state-of-the-art facilities, and access to medicines. Now, the medical professionals are leaving for better opportunities abroad and medicines we used to take for granted are hard to find.
A family member of mine has a virulent form of breast cancer. She had her surgeries here, but for fear that her long-term chemo will not be available, she decided to continue her treatment in Egypt. So she has to go to Egypt for that. At least she has that option available to her. The majority of people here do not.
My job and Anera’s mission keep me going and fill me with pride.
Anera, and many other organizations, have stepped up to support those who are doing their best to make ends meet. We are working with UNICEF and UNOCHA to provide cash and food assistance to refugees and other vulnerable communities. Our programs are not only helping those on the receiving end of our aid, but also young people in the communities we serve. We employ them to help us make food and deliver other forms of humanitarian assistance. They give back to their neighbors, earn a wage, and build skills. This is just one of the many impactful programs we are delivering here.
I write this to remind you, Anera’s community, that the people of this wonderful country are still living in an acutely terrible – but also chronic – situation. I believe that change will come, but in the meantime it’s our responsibility to keep people going and offer a glimpse of hope for the future.
Don’t forget the people of Lebanon. They deserve to be helped during their most difficult times.
Last year, with support from @UNICEFLebanon, Anera established an accelerated vocational agriculture course for young people in Akkar, Lebanon’s most impoverished governorate. The course covers the basics of agriculture. pic.twitter.com/4p4oAIvTSt— Anera (@AneraOrg) April 21, 2021
100 of Anera’s youth volunteers set out on a mountain hike in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley to clean trails and learn more about ecology.
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According to the World Bank, Lebanon currently faces one of the worst economic and financial crises anywhere on the planet. Beginning in 2019, the Lebanese pound’s (LBP) value decreased by 90%. Lebanon’s GDP contracted 6.7% in 2019 and 20.3% in…